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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA


Brexit has again dominated the past week. Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald met with US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney on Monday and on Thursday briefed the Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus. Between these meetings the British Government continued to push their Internal Market Bill which breaches international law and the protections in place for the Good Friday Agreement. The EU has started legal proceedings as promised against the British for their actions. Meanwhile the clock is ticking down to the end of October and the end date for a deal.

 Sinn Féin Senator Niall O'Donnghaile, US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, Sinn Féin Representative to the US Ciaran Quinn, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and US Ambassador Edward Crawford.

Lets take a look at the British Government's Claims

They claim they will not impose a hard border – FALSE

There is nowhere in the world with an open border in the absence of a Trade Deal. World Trade Organization rules dictate a check at each side. EU Single market rules would do the same. That is why we have the Withdrawal Agreement. It was an agreed solution to Britain’s Brexit policy. British Government actions would be the cause of a hard border.

They claim they are protecting the integrity of the Union. - FALSE

There is a mechanism to change the constitutional position in the North, and that is a United Ireland Referendum not the Withdrawal Agreement.

They claim that the Powers of the Bill are only an insurance policy and will not be used- FALSE

The obvious question is why provide for powers that will never be used? These powers allow British Ministers to break international law and to do so without legal challenge from citizens. In effect they are saying that they will negotiate but if the EU does not agree to their terms they will retain the right to do what they want.

They claim they are Protecting the Good Friday Agreement and protecting Peace - FALSE

The Withdrawal Agreement is not and never has been a threat to peace. It is a protection for the Good Friday Agreement and the avoidance of a hard Border. Far from protecting the Good Friday Agreement their actions threaten the reimposition of a hard border and breaches to the agreement. Here are some of the examples.

PM Boris Johnson and his ministers

Unilateral Action

The British Government took unilateral action without consultation and agreement with the majority of parties and the Irish Government. This is a violation of the principles and practice of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is also a violation of the Good Friday Agreement that provides: “The British-Irish Council will exchange information, discuss, consult and use best endeavors to reach agreement on cooperation on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the relevant Administrations.”

Impact on North South

The Good Friday Agreement is a three-legged stool of interdependent strands. The Withdrawal Agreement provided a mechanism for maintaining all Ireland and cross border working. The protection of the GFA “in all of its parts” is key to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Power to Override the Assemble and Executive

The Bill gives British Ministers the power to interfere in devolved matters. This is not just an issue for the North but Scotland and Wales as well.


The Withdrawal Agreement provides a clause of “no diminution of rights” post Brexit. The Equality and Human Rights Commission jointly released a briefing paper yesterday that demonstrated that the Internal Market Bill and subsequent government amendments breach the GFA and impacts on rights safeguarded in the Withdrawal Agreement:

“Undermines the GFA commitment to ensure incorporation of the ECHR, including access to courts and remedies for breach of the ECHR rights.

Concerned that the proposed amendments risk diminishing the commitment of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol to ensure there is no diminution of rights, safeguards or equality of opportunity as the UK leaves the EU.”

The path the British Government is taking undermines the Good Friday Agreement, threatens the progress that Ireland has enjoyed and undermines the rights of citizens. This is a British Government that does not understand Ireland or the peace process. This week has again demonstrated that the US will stand up for the Agreements and for peace.

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