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Sinn Fein slams Foster's Good Friday Agreement Brexit remarks - Allister asks 'why can't it be changed?'

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein blasted Arlene Foster's comments on the Good Friday Agreement not being "sacrosanct" saying the peace accord could not be used as a bargaining chip in the Brexit talks.

TUV MLA Jim Allister, however - pointing to to continued lack of government in Northern Ireland - asked why it couldn't be changed.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph the DUP leader praised the Brexit vision proposed by Boris Johnson.  She said there was nothing to prevent the altering of the Good Friday Agreement stating how there were changes made to the agreement at St Andrews and after the Stormont House Agreement.

Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald called on the Irish Government to make it clear the Good Friday Agreement was "not a chip to be bargained". She said she would raise the matter with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

She said the comments by the DUP leader "revealed a reckless disregard for the peace process, prosperity and progress".

“The Irish Government must make clear that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected and remains the basis for stability and progress," she said.

“It should  be remembered that Arlene Foster left the UUP, which supported the Good Friday Agreement, to join the anti-agreement DUP. It appears the DUP leader has learnt nothing over the past 15 years.

"The Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the vast majority of people north and south. It is the people’s agreement and not a chip to be bargained with as part of any Tory/DUP Brexit deal.

It is time to move on and get a system of devolution that can work not the failure of Belfast agreement devolution. Jim Allister

“Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement. The actions of the DUP and their deal with the Tories is bad for our economy and undermines the rights of citizens.

“The DUP should commit to the full implementation of the Good Friday, and other agreements, rather than seeking to undermine them. This would unlock the pathway to re-establishing the political institutions and safeguarding the interests of all the people in the north."

UUP leader Robin Swann - whose party was a key architect of the agreement - said the principle of consent "should be sacrosanct to all unionists.

“Arlene Foster’s comments on the Belfast Agreement are strategically shortsighted.

“The reality is that the principle of consent is what binds us to the United Kingdom, it is the best settlement for unionists and should be sacrosanct.  We should be looking to build on this principle and ultimately remove the changes made at St Andrews to finally do away with the sectarian politics which continues to plague us to this day."

Jim Allister, however, said given devolution lay "in tatters" to advocate for it was an "exhalation of failure".

"Why should the Belfast Agreement be sacrosanct?" he told the BBC Stephen Nolan show.

"Its centrepiece is lying in tatters in terms of mandatory coalition. Anyone who closes their eyes to that reality and just repeats the mantra the 'Belfast Agreement, the Belfast Agreement'..... what they are repeating is an exhalation of failure.

"What they are advocating is getting back into the failure of mandatory coalition.

"The thing speaks for itself it's in tatters... of course it is time to move on and get a system of devolution that can work not the failure of Belfast agreement devolution."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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