Belfast Telegraph

EU withdrawal tensions must not reignite Northern Ireland Troubles, warns John Kerry

Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry
Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has voiced concerns that the fall-out from Brexit could reignite the Troubles.

Mr Kerry said finding a solution to Brexit was imperative to avoid a "negative impact" on progress made in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking to the BBC Sunday Politics show, Mr Kerry said: "Under the Stormont agreement the last 20 years has been characterised by a border that people have been able to cross easily.

"The great demarcation points and infrastructure that defined the border 20 years ago have gone.

"You can drive from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland and there is a sign and that's it. If you have a Brexit with a hard border which is unacceptable to certain parties you could see great difficulties as a result of that.

"I have concerns - depending on what kind of Brexit takes place - it could have a negative impact on the progress of the last 20 years.

"It could reheat passions one way or the other or both depending on what it is so I think we have to see how this is resolved.

"The question of Northern Ireland has been a major hurdle to get over in this process and now the rightness of a specific proposal is on the table and I think it is up to you folk (UK) to think that through.

"It is imperative that it is solved in a way that does not reignite the Troubles."

Members of the five main political parties met with Mr Kerry and US Senator George Mitchell, who helped broker the Good Friday Agreement, at Yale University where a way to restore devolution was among topics discussed.

Mr Kerry continued: "They came here to have a conversation which could inform them perhaps a little bit but also us - to explore how governance can resume.

"This was an informal academic meeting where the parties came to explore their dynamics, to be able to have a candid, out of the spotlight, frank conversation with people who know something about the issue and care about the issue.

"Historically we have been privileged to be able to help, according to the wishes of the parties themselves."

The US Democrat added: "I think it is important for dialogue to begin as to how do you begin to take the steps necessary to calm things down a little bit and start to get some concrete steps forward that could get things on track again."

Belfast Telegraph


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