Belfast Telegraph

Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement felt more like a memorial, says Agnew

By Adrian Rutherford

The courage that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement only serves to highlight the failure behind the current impasse at Stormont, the leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has said.

Speaking ahead of the party's annual conference in Belfast today, North Down MLA Steven Agnew said the recent celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the Agreement felt more like a memorial.

"Twenty years ago, parties set aside their own selfish interests and put the people of Northern Ireland first. Today, two parties seek not better governance but a way of keeping power while saving face," he accused.

"As a result, Northern Ireland is left with no government and no voice when it comes to Brexit," Mr Agnew added.

The cabinet is currently split over customs arrangements and Prime Minister Theresa May has said further work is needed to find a solution that will deliver on her promise of frictionless trade without the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Agnew said the UK as a whole must remain a member of a customs union. "This is the only way to guarantee no hard border on this island or between the islands," he continued.

"The Green Party will continue to use its voice to ensure that those who voted to remain are represented and that we all get the opportunity to have our say on the final Brexit deal.

"We will continue to press for a vote on the final deal because that is true democracy."

The theme of the Green Party conference is the power of local councils to make a difference.

"With the Assembly currently not sitting, it is right that this conference focuses on the valuable work carried out by our local councils and their role in providing local democracy," Mr Agnew added.

"The message to MLAs is clear - if you do not want the power, if you do not want the responsibility, then councils are ready and willing to step up."

Belfast Telegraph

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