The UK’s departure from the EU gives rise to substantial political and economic challenges for our society.
As political Leaders representing the majority of citizens who voted to reject Brexit, we have strongly represented the case in London, Dublin, Brussels and Washington that our peace, stability and economy cannot be jeopardised, and in particular that any harm caused to the Good Friday Agreement, in all of its parts, would be profoundly reckless.
The EU and UK negotiators agreed in full the terms of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
While we believe that there is no good Brexit, and that the Protocol is imperfect, it guarantees that, whatever the circumstances, there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and it will protect the Good Friday Agreement 1998 in all its dimensions, North-South cooperation, and the all-island economy. It further ensures that trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain remains unobstructed and protects our place in the internal UK market.
It also sets out the UK’s commitment to no diminution of rights as set out in the Good Friday Agreement 1998, and provides for the continuation of the Common Travel Area arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom. It ensures that the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation are maintained, and preserves the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland.
It is entirely unacceptable to the Northern Ireland parties that the UK Government would seek to abandon these safeguards and mitigations, which we believe would amount to a serious betrayal of an existing International Treaty.
The economic and political impact on the island of Ireland, on the United Kingdom and above all on the people whom we represent would be devastating, long-lasting. It would represent a shocking act of bad faith that would critically undermine the Good Friday Agreement political framework and peace process and the UK’s ability to secure other crucial deals to protect the Northern Ireland economy.
We therefore call upon the UK Government to honour its commitments, and to now ensure the rigorous implementation of the Protocol, prioritise peace and stability in Northern Ireland, and work to secure a future economic partnership with their EU colleagues now and in the weeks ahead.
Michelle O’Neill MLA, Sinn Féin Assembly Leader
Colum Eastwood MP, Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party
Naomi Long MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party, NI
Clare Bailey MLA, Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland