Belfast Telegraph

'25 years of progress could be squandered due to DUP-Tory alliance,' says Sinn Fein chair

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein chairperson Declarn Kearney has claimed that the "toxic alliance" between the DUP and Conservative party could be jeopardising Northern Ireland's peace process.

Mr Kearney made the comments ahead of a panel discussion at Yale University marking 20 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The South Antrim MLA also called on the UK and Irish governments to begin preparations for an Irish unity referendum.

Mr Kearney said that the Good Friday Agreement established a democratic option for creating a united Ireland and the time had come for it to be fully implemented.

He also criticised both the UK and Irish governments for their handling of the political situation in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Northern Ireland has been without an Executive since January 2017 when former deputy First Minister, the late Martin McGuinness resigned over the RHI scandal and equality issues.

Theresa May's government currently rely on the DUP's ten MPs to support their legislation through a confidence and supply agreement.

Mr Kearney said that Brexit had brought the issue of Irish unity into focus.

"Both the British and Irish governments have failed since 1998 in their obligations as co-guarantors of this internationally binding treaty to ensure the delivery of its vision," the Sinn Fein chair said.

"Now twenty years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement the contradictions of partition have been brought sharply into focus again as a result of the political crisis in the north, the continued denial of citizens rights by political unionism, and opposition to rights based political institutions.

"The catastrophe of Brexit has deepened these contradictions."

The South Antrim MLA said that the DUP-Tory deal risked Northern Ireland going backwards.

"The majority will of citizens in the north to remain in the European Union has been made subordinate to a wreckers charter being driven by right wing Tories and their allies in the DUP and political unionism," Mr Kearney said.

"Brexit represents the most extreme form of vandalism against the island’s economy and citizens' rights.

"There is a real risk that 25 years of progress could be squandered due to the toxic alliance between the British Tories and DUP."

Mr Kearney said it was time that both governments prepare for a unity poll as the debate and timing "have now moved centre stage".

"It is time for historic, decisive and brave leadership to be shown by the British state," he said.

"Its mismanagement of the Irish peace process in recent years must be replaced with a recognition that the transition towards Irish unity should begin.

"In parallel, the Irish government needs to begin to prepare for the constitutional, political and economic transition towards Irish unity."

The DUP has been contacted by the Belfast Telegraph in relation to Mr Kearney's comments.

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