Belfast Telegraph

Dublin needs to mind its language, say DUP's Donaldson

By David Young

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of "playing politics" with the Good Friday Agreement.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Dublin needed to be more mindful of what it was saying about Northern Ireland.

"I think Dublin needs to consider its language very carefully, the kind of language it's been using," he claimed.

"Some of the comments I've heard, frankly, are very unhelpful in terms of using the Agreement as leverage, and talking up the threat to the Agreement."

Sir Jeffrey made his remarks in an interview in yesterday's Sunday Business Post.

Mr Varadkar recently claimed that Brexit "threatens to drive a wedge" between Britain and Ireland as well as harming North-South relations, and creating division between the two communities here.

Sir Jeffrey's comments came as Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney prepares to host a high-profile celebration of the Agreement in Belfast today, the eve of the 20th anniversary of the accord.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, Tanaiste Mr Coveney said: "Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

"This, I believe, is an important moment for everyone, whatever your perspective, to reflect and remember just how much has been achieved through the Agreement over the last 20 years.

"The horrendous, destructive violence of the Troubles was definitively ended.

"There was a new start in Northern Ireland, founded on power-sharing, equality and parity of esteem.

"Relations between North and South on this island and East-West have been transformed for the better. While there are evident challenges still, the journey on the road to genuine reconciliation has begun."

Mr Coveney called for the restoration of a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.

"It is incumbent then on all of us - the two Governments as co-guarantors of the Agreement, and the political parties - to ensure that our efforts in the period ahead live up to that democratic expression for peace, for partnership and for better prospects that the people enshrined in 1998," he added.

"The power-sharing Executive and Assembly have been absent for too long already and must urgently restart their work as the institutions at the heart of the Agreement."

Mr Coveney said this week's anniversary of the 1998 Agreement offers an appropriate moment to take stock of progress - and to chart the way forward into a new era of more progress.

"Reconciliation is the hardest and yet most essential aspect of the peace process for today and indeed for generations to come," he added.

"The genius of the Agreement is that it allows us to live together on these islands as neighbours and as friends, without in any way diminishing our identities or our cultures. Irish, British, both, or neither."

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