NI: Joint rule ‘incompatible’ with Good Friday Agreement

Lord Dunlop
Lord Dunlop

Joint rule of Northern Ireland by the UK and Irish governments is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for Northern Ireland has said.

Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Lord Dunlop said: “I can confirm that the Government remain fully committed to the Belfast agreement, including the principle of consent governing Northern Ireland’s constitutional position. It is on that basis that Northern Ireland is, and remains, a full part of the United Kingdom.

“Clearly, any form of joint authority would be incompatible with the consent principle. The Government’s priority remains to work intensively to ensure that, after the Assembly elections, strong and stable devolved government is re-established in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland’s opposition Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had proposed joint rule as an alternative to devolution if a new Executive cannot be formed following the March election.

Speaking last week, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “If post election an executive cannot be formed, the only acceptable position for the nationalist community is joint authority between the Irish and British governments. We cannot allow a DUP-run government to be solely replaced by British direct rule ministers.

“Theresa May, the British secretary of state and the DUP need to understand that there can be no return to what has gone before.”

However, Lord Dunlop said the UK government was focussed on re-establishing “a strong and stable devolved Government after the poll in a few weeks’ time”.

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