Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's commitment to Good Friday Agreement questioned after McDonald's Brexit comments

DUP MP Gregory Campbell and TUV leader Jim Allister.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell and TUV leader Jim Allister.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein's commitment to the Good Friday Agreement has been questioned following comments from party leader Mary Lou McDonald.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell and TUV leader Jim Allister questioned whether Sinn Fein accepted Northern Ireland's right to be part of the United Kingdom, as guaranteed under the Agreement.

Their comments come after the Sinn Fein President said that Britain was welcome to have Brexit, but wouldn't be taking Northern Ireland with them.

"If Britain wishes to Brexit who are we to stop them? But they won’t take the North with them and they’re not going to wreck the Irish economy and upend our peace process," Mrs McDonald said on Saturday.

Both Gregory Campbell and Jim Allister opposed the Good Friday Agreement as members of the DUP. Mr Allister later split from the party and formed the Traditional Unionist Voice.

Sinn Fein were one of the leading parties behind the agreement alongside the SDLP and UUP.

The agreement recognises that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK until a majority of people vote in favour of Irish unity in a border poll.

Following Mrs McDonald's comments, East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said it seemed that she had forgotten "exactly what the Belfast agreement says".

"Sinn Fein needs to remember that the principle of consent is part of the Belfast Agreement they love to quote on occasions," he said.

"Mary Lou McDonald uses the Belfast Agreement but she can’t pick and choose parts of it and only when it suits her. There is no respect for the people of Northern Ireland who will ultimately have the authority to make any decision on this matter.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

"Therefore the Sinn Fein President must clarify whether she accepts the Agreement she keeps quoting, or not?"

Mr Campbell said that Sinn Fein were becoming obsessed with Irish unity at a time when their were more important issues to address.

"Wasting time on United Ireland fantasies should not be the priority of Sinn Fein. Their priority should be on our schools, reducing waiting lists and our roads – the issues that affect everyone living in Northern Ireland," the DUP veteran said.

"They are on the road to no town with their narrow political agendas, which includes blocking the restoration of the Assembly.

"They stand outside Westminster, with their MPs as glorified spectators who perpetuate scaremongering. Meanwhile we in the DUP are focused on securing a better deal for all.”

TUV leader Jim Allister accused the Sinn Fein leader of making threats and referred to her as a "foreigner".

"By this menacing threat Sinn Fein demonstrates again that despite its supposed commitment to the Belfast Agreement it does not actually accept its supposed cornerstone that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom," the North Antrim MLA said.

"If we are part of the UK then if the UK leaves, we leave. It’s a constitutional imperative. Brexit is a litmus test of acceptance of the existence and integrity of the UK.

"Yet, here we have bellicose threats from Sinn Fein which proves again that for them it’s still ‘Brits Out’."

Mr Allister called for the UK Government to put Sinn Fein "in its place" and stand up for the integrity of the UK.

Sinn Fein has been contacted for a response to this story.

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