Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Mary Lou McDonald 'reminds' PM of Good Friday Agreement obligations in phone call

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

By Eimear McGovern

The Sinn Fein leader says she has reminded the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of his obligations under the Good Friday Agreement in a phone call on Sunday.

Mary Lou McDonald said she told Mr Johnson there could be no unionist veto on protections for Ireland in a call at lunchtime on Sunday.

It's after the Irish government moved to protect a proposed compromise Brexit deal after it was attacked by Nigel Dodds on Saturday.

The former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson also suggested the deal, which would create a customs border in the Irish Sea with goods travelling from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland being subject to tariffs which Britain would collect on behalf of the EU, would “ride roughshod” over the Good Friday Agreement.

The comments were made in a Daily Telegraph article on Friday by Mr Paterson, who is a member of the ERG which supports a no-deal Brexit.

Asked about the article in Italy on Saturday, Mr Dodds said Mr Paterson was "absolutely right".

In a news report posted online by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Mr Dodds was quoted as saying Northern Ireland "must stay in a full UK customs union, full stop".

The European Union was this weekend continuing Brexit negotiations with the UK government, aimed at preventing the UK from crashing out of the EU.

Mary Lou McDonald said: "Ireland did not consent to Brexit.  The people of the north voted to remain. This afternoon I reminded the British Prime Minister of this and of his obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to ensure no hardening of the border.

"I told the Prime Minister that any deal agreed must have legal and enduring guarantees that deliver for Ireland. There can be no customs border on our island. Our livelihoods, our economy and our peace must be protected.

"I also sought confirmation that there would be no veto gifted to DUP Brexiteers on protections for Ireland - such a position would be intolerable.

"The next week will be critical. Ultimately we need a deal that delivers for Ireland. Prime Minister Johnson and I agreed to stay in contact and continue to engage on these and other important issues."

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