Belfast Telegraph

Michelle O'Neill: Irish government 'co-equal partners' in Good Friday Agreement

Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill has asserted that the Irish government is a "co-equal" partner in administering the Good Friday Agreement.

This statement comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May stated there would be no role for the Irish government in governing Northern Ireland if talks to restore the power-sharing executive fail.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May said that she was "happy to confirm" that her government was not looking at joint authority.

She also said that the "Belfast Agreement does include certain responsibilities in relation to the government of the Republic of Ireland in terms of north-south coordination" and that the focus was on restoring a devolved administration.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Mrs O'Neill said: "It is clear that both governments are co-equal. They have a joint and equal role in the process, in safeguarding rights and implementing the agreements.

"The Irish government must assert that role and the British government accept that they are partners in that process."

Mrs O'Neill also said that since the St Andrew's Agreement, the British government no longer has the ability to suspend the institutions in Northern Ireland and impose direct rule.

The St Andrews Agreement, an agreement between the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland's political parties, was made in anticipation of the restoration of the power-sharing executive in 2007.

It includes a clause that states:  "The governments have made clear that in the event of failure to reach agreement by the November 24 (the date in 2006 on which parties were obliged to have indicated their candidates for a restored power-sharing executive) we will proceed on the basis of the new British Irish partnership arrangements to implement the Belfast Agreement."

Mrs O'Neill also reiterated her earlier position that "the formal talks should be reconvened and that agreement is possible".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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