NI peace agreement needs Brexit ‘renaissance’

The Good Friday Agreement needs a post-Brexit “renaissance”, a rights group said.

Brian Gormally said fundamental parts of the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal, like a Bill of Rights, had yet to be implemented.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) lobby group director said Brexit meant moving into a period of political turmoil.

He warned: “What we really need is a renaissance of the peace process, a going back to basics.

“It is not a question of a new dispensation.

“It is a question of going back to basics and renewing it for the new conditions that we are moving into.”

He addressed a conference at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) on the impact of Brexit on the Irish or British citizenship guaranteed to people in Northern Ireland following the 1998 Belfast Agreement between Britain and Ireland.

Mr Gormally said: “We are definitely moving into a period of political turmoil and debate and discussion if we are lucky and violent political conflict if we are not.”

He called for a framework of rights and equality and said its absence had caused the impasse at Stormont.

Mr Gormally predicted an Irish unity referendum within five years.

The conference, entitled Post-Brexit Citizenship Status: Divided by the Rules? also heard from ex-Women’s Coalition representative Jane Morrice and Terry Wright, a former teacher and unionist from Londonderry.

Solicitor Niall Murphy from KRW Law specialises in human rights law.

He said: “I would argue we already are second-class citizens because the Good Friday Agreement has not been fully implemented.

“I do not understand why this has not happened, we do not have a Bill of Rights, I am dumbfounded that that has not been put in place.”

He also highlighted the lack of an Irish language act.

He said: “It would seem that there can be no regulatory alignment on this island and Bangor must be as British as Finchley, unless you are gay and want to be married or seek to live a life through the medium of Irish with statutory protection.”

He noted motorists driving across the border were facing extra bureaucracy due to Brexit from this week.

“The roadmap for the journey from Brexit Britain to Little England is being led by the blind, the ignorant and the reckless.

“Mark Twain once said that you should never argue with stupid people, as they would drag you down to their level and beat you with their experience.

“Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, their European Research Group (ERG) colleagues, are indeed experienced, however we cannot stand idly by.”

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