SDLP accused of undermining GFA ‘consent’

ALLIANCE has accused the SDLP of trying to undermine the Agreement, after the nationalist party said Northern Ireland elected representatives should have a postal ballot to elect representatives to the Republic’s Seanad.

Alliance Leader David Ford said: “The SDLP’s proposals for representation from Northern Ireland in the Seanad drives a coach and horses through the Principle of Consent. This Principle has been enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, entrenched by referenda North and South, and reflected in changes to the Irish Constitution.

“Alliance believes that steps can be taken to give institutional expression to the Irish nationalist identity on the island, but the primary focus should fall on further developing north-south co-operation in a manner consistent with the Agreement.”

“In its own response to the Irish Government’s consultation on the reform of the Seanad, Alliance instead proposed that some of the Taoiseach’s nominees to the Seanad should be reserved for Northern Ireland. There might, for example, be a strong encouragement to nominate two or three individuals on the basis of their understanding of the opinions of the people of Northern Ireland.

“Any steps to provide for representation from Northern Ireland in southern institutions, either by direct or indirect election, would mark a significant change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional status. If the SDLP want to change this aspect of the Agreement they should come out and say so, rather than seeking to undermine it by stealth.”

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