Belfast Telegraph

Mary Lou McDonald: DUP and Tories gambling with our peace and future as they head towards no-deal

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

By Mary Lou McDonald

To those of us who have always questioned the commitment of Tory Brexiteers to any notion of democracy, it comes as no surprise that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now treating his own political institutions and elected representatives with such open contempt.

After all, for over three years now, the Tory government has arrogantly ignored the democratic will of the people of the north who voted to Remain.

Boris Johnson's intention to prorogue the British parliament has simply elevated that contempt for democracy to a new level. He doesn't care what his own MPs say, never mind the opposition. His only motivation is to force through a no-deal Brexit at all costs.

The fact that the DUP is supporting him in that is foolish in the extreme.

A no-deal crash Brexit will be hugely damaging to our politics, to our economy and to our society. It is in direct defiance of the clear cross-community majority here who want to see an agreement with the EU that protects interests on this side of the Irish Sea.

That is the sensible, pragmatic thing to do in these circumstances. Yet the DUP continues to refuse such an approach, preferring to wrap themselves in the Brexiteer flag as they march over the cliff edge of a catastrophic crash.

Hand in hand with Boris Johnson, they are gambling with our peace and the livelihoods of the people who live here.

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That is not only grossly irresponsible, it is unforgivable.

So whatever about the British Government's disdain for its own political institutions, the motivation of my party is to continue protecting the people of this island from the fate that the Tory-DUP axis would force upon them.

We will do all in our power to prevent the damage of a no-deal Brexit and to ensure the wishes of the people here are respected.

We will continue to work with the Dublin Government and to take this fight to the heart of Brussels and Washington.

The EU 27 have so far stood four square in defence of the Good Friday Agreement and the hard-won peace on our island. Senior figures in the US Congress have also ruled out any new trade deal with the British Government if Brexit does anything to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

That international pressure will be vital in the crucial weeks ahead because Brexit is clearly incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement.

It threatens a new border on our island. It undermines the cross-border co-operation that has cemented the peace process and eradicates the European dimension of rights and support that has underpinned the progress we have made over the past two decades. Supported by the DUP, the British Prime Minister may be prepared to trash his own parliamentary democracy in pursuit of a no-deal Brexit.

However, in partnership with Dublin, Brussels and Washington, we must now ensure that he is not allowed to trash an internationally-binding peace treaty in the form of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mary Lou McDonald is president of Sinn Fein

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