Belfast Telegraph

Mary Lou McDonald calls for all parties to 'recommit to Good Friday Agreement'

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald has called on all parties to "recommit to the agreements, power sharing, reconciliation and progress".

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Speaking in advance of the anniversary Ms McDonald restated Sinn Féin’s commitment to the agreement and the central role it should play in resolving the current political crisis and challenge of Brexit.

The Sinn Féin leader urged all the other parties, including the British and Irish governments, to recommit to the Agreements, power sharing, reconciliation and progress.

''I am proud to lead a party that was one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement and we remain absolutely committed to the principles of equality, respect and power sharing which underpin the historic accord," the Dublin Central TD said.

"We believe that sharing power with Irish Unionism is a necessary part of building an open, modern democratic system of governance.

“We believe that reconciliation and understanding can be built in a peaceful society. Political leaders must lead from the front to make this a reality."

Ms McDonald said that the current differences between Sinn Fein and the DUP could be resolved.

“The outstanding issues at the heart of negotiations with the DUP can be resolved within the context of the Good Friday Agreement. The accommodation arrived at in February last demonstrates this fact," she said.

"Recognition and protection for the rights of citizens is not an optional extra; it is the very core of power sharing. 

“Delays, distractions and excuses are not acceptable twenty years on from the signing of The Good Friday Agreement."

She said Brexit remained the biggest challenge to the Good Friday Agreement.

"It is now time for political leaders of all parties affirm their commitment to that agreement and subsequent agreements, to power sharing, reconciliation and progress," she said.

"We face many challenges, Brexit is the single biggest threat to the Good Friday Agreement. The prospect of a hard border and economic, social and political disruption is very real.

"The people in the north voted to remain in the EU. They have not consented to Brexit.

"The British Government is playing fast and loose with the hard won progress built over twenty years."

She said the Good Friday Agreement was still relevant and would help build a new Ireland.

"The Good Friday Agreement is not a historic artefact. It is not to be discarded by Tory Brexiteers or a minority in the leadership of unionism," the Sinn Fein President said.

"It is an agreement endorsed by the vast majority of the people of Ireland. It remains the basis for resolving the current crisis.

"It lays the foundation of a new Ireland which we must build together."

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