Detail in St Andrews Agreement was not disagreed with: Peter Hain

Peter Hain
Peter Hain

Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain has described the St Andrews Agreement as being “broadly agreed on as a whole package” by those involved in the peace process.

The landmark St Andrews Agreement was signed by the DUP, Sinn Fein and both the British and Irish governments in 2006 and paved the way for a power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Yesterday, DUP MLA Edwin Poots said that while his party had signed up to the agreement, they had never agreed to introduce an Irish language Act at St Andrews. Rather, Mr Poots claimed the then prime minister Tony Blair had struck a “side deal” with Gerry Adams at St Andrews regarding the Irish language issue.

In the wake of those remarks, Mr Hain – who served as NI Secretary from 2005-2007 under Blair – told The Nolan Show this morning that there had been “broad agreement” on St Andrews “as a whole package”.

He added: “Sometimes you have a document containing thousands of words and although there might not be 100% agreement on one line in it, there is broad agreement on the whole lot of it, and that enables the way forward.

“Everybody knows that is the way Northern Ireland politics works. The most important thing about St Andrews is that it moved the whole process forward.

“It may not be that everyone agrees 100% on everything, but broadly speaking they agree on the whole package.”

Responding, journalist Eamonn Mallie said Mr Hain’s comments amounted to “realpolitik”.

He added: “This is how governments operate. Do you think that this is unique to Northern Ireland? Get real. This is how agreements are worked out.”