Brexit was going to change the status of Northern Ireland by bringing it out of EU against the wishes of the majority

A letter from Mary Russell:

Friday, 17th September 2021, 2:21 am
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 2:25 am
Letter to the editor

Jeffrey Donaldson claims in his speech (‘Sir Jeffrey sets out battleplan against Protocol in long-awaited speech,’ September 10) firstly, that it breaches Article 6 of the Act of Union 1800 (which promises “subjects of Great Britain and Ireland to be on same footing”).

And secondly, he said it undermines the section of the Belfast Agreement which says “it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of it’s people”.

Re ‘Act of 1800 promises the subjects of Great Britain and Ireland to be on the same footing’:

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The agreement refers to all of Ireland and does not mention Northern Ireland exclusively and was breached when Ireland left the Union and Northern Ireland was formed.

The Act of Union has also been ‘impliedly repealed’ on numerous occasion, the partition of Ireland and the forming of Northern Ireland and the Anglo Irish agreement, to name but two occasions.

When was Northern Ireland ever on the same footing as GB?

Is there anywhere in GB subject to an international treaty aka the Good Friday Agreement that has enshrined within it a referendum on leaving the UK.

GB has had same sex marriage and abortion rights for years before it has been legislated for in Northern Ireland, GB has rights for minority languages legislated for, NI does not.

Is there anywhere in GB where thousands cross the jurisdictional border on a daily basis to work, and school?

Is there anywhere in GB where their dairy industry depends on multiple cross jurisdictional border journeys to be processed?

Until entry into the EC workers from GB needed a visa to work in Northern Ireland. No Northern Ireland has never been treated on the same footing as the rest of the UK.

Re ‘It would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of it’s people.’

There are two consent mechanisms addressed in the Good Friday Agreement.

One for unification which needs a simple majority and a referendum. Brexit and its outworking the Withdrawal Agreement was most definitely not a unification poll. As Jeffrey Donaldson himself said and I quote “Customs checks doesn’t mean that you change the constitutional status of a part of the United Kingdom”.

The second consent mechanism is the cross community consent which deals with devolved matters alone.

Now, as we are constantly reminded, Brexit was a UK wide matter and therefore a reserved matter to Westminster and does not come under this consent mechanism.

Likewise the ensuing Withdrawal Agreement and Trade deal are reserved matters for Westminster, as all trade matters are, and does not need cross community consent.

Brexit was going to change the status of Northern Ireland by bringing it out of the EU, against the expressed wishes of the majority therein, yet the cross community approval was never cited in this instance, if it was not applicable then, it is not applicable for the new trading arrangement.

You can’t have it both ways.

Think about it. Demanding a say ‘for the people of Northern Ireland’, over a deal endorsed by the whole of the UK electorate in a general election in 2019 when Boris asked for a mandate for the Withdrawal Agreement, having contemptously and persistently dismissed fir such a say over Brexit because it was a whole UK decision. Quite a contradictory position.

Mary Russell, Dundalk

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