Last people on earth entitled to elucidate GFA are DUP MPs

Posted By: October 31, 2019

Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, October 30, 2019

 The DUP are the authors of their own misfortune and, in the words of Steve Baker, hardline Brexiteer chair of the inappropriately named European Research Group, they’ll just have to ‘choke it down’.

 Slap it into them. Sadly, they dragged the rest of us into the current mess.

Instead of using their leverage in the balance of Westminster arithmetic to try to mitigate the dreadful impact of Brexit on The North, they stupidly (perhaps not surprisingly since we’re talking about DUP MPs) supported the most hardline Brexit which involved leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.

Simultaneously they argued idiotically they didn’t want a Border in Ireland although leaving the Single Market and Customs Union required one. In order to get around that illogical position, Jeffrey Donaldson and Sammy Wilson spent the last three years trying to persuade people in business to believe in magic. Indeed,  they argued that magic technologies existed. No good the EU chief expert Sabine Weyand examining every border in the world but unsurprisingly being unable to find any magic ones.

The latest piece of nonsense that the DUP has been insisting on is that Johnson’s new deal and the Irish Sea border, all together now, ‘drives a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement.’ It does not, because the Irish government and EU would not have allowed it to do so. The DUP, by repeating it ad nauseam to an ignorant Westminster audience, managed to convince some people who should know better than this is true. It emphatically is not true and it’s about time Sinn Féin and the Irish government expose it for the rubbish it is.

First, the last people on earth who are entitled to attempt to elucidate the GFA are the DUP MPs, all of whom opposed it tooth and nail. Secondly, the law is crystal clear. The GFA and the Northern Ireland Act (1998) say a change in the constitutional status of The North to opt for Irish unity requires a simple majority verdict in referendums north and south.

The new Irish protocol in Johnson’s deal does not (unfortunately) alter The North’s constitutional position in the UK and, therefore contrary to the DUP’s claim, does not require consent. Customs, VAT, EU single market regulations, etc. are not functions of the Assembly or Executive; they are reserved or ‘excepted’ matters not subject to cross-community consent or Assembly control.

Furthermore, the UK Supreme Court has found that altering the powers of devolved assemblies or parliaments by Westminster does not require the consent of those devolved bodies. The judgment declared that the so-called ‘Sewel Convention’ requiring Westminster to consult devolved bodies is indeed nothing more than a convention.

 Contrary to what Arlene Foster claimed in her conference speech, the DUP WAS demanding a DUP veto on reserved matters like customs, VAT and Single Market regulations, something neither the EU nor the Irish government could accept; nor indeed could Westminster. As a matter of fact, the only consistent position the DUP has held onto outrageously throughout the past three chaotic years is that they alone should have a veto on anything that befalls The North, even to the extent of denying the notion of consent, cross-community or otherwise, to the majority here who want to remain in the EU, never mind the Single Market.

 Why did they not demand cross-community consent in 2018 for leaving the Customs Union and Single Market? Why demand now, without any legal justification, consent on adhering to the Customs Union and Single Market? Answer: sheer hypocrisy.

 The DUP has been content to ignore the wishes of the majority of people here because of the hubris of the power they held over the wretched Theresa May, but now the boot is on the other foot they whine about a false legal fiction as preposterous as their magic frontiers which Johnson and the EU immediately laughed out of court. Consent, mar dhea [Yeah, right!]