Irish premier warns May not to put Good Friday Agreement at risk

Irish premier warns May not to put Good Friday Agreement at risk

Asked on Radio Ulster about his views on bringing in an independent chair, he said: “I think the point is that we have a process already which involves, yes, the UK Government, but the Irish Government and also the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (Sir Malcolm McKibbin)”.

It has to be made up by a coalition of political parties – the two largest of which are the nationalist Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the former wanting reunification with Ireland and the latter wanting Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

“It is really for Sinn Fein to decide where they want those powers to lie”.

They are adamant the UK Government can no longer cast itself as a neutral facilitator in the process, given Theresa May‘s intent to form a minority government with the help of a confidence-and-supply deal with the unionist party.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood warned that the future of Northern Ireland could not be left “in the hands of a Tory-DUP government”.

Talks resume, June 12, with little hope of a successful outcome, with Ireland’s prime minister-elect Leo Varadkar, saying he is set to warn May over the importance of impartiality in power-sharing talks.

However, a major question mark now hangs over the talks as a result of developments at Westminster.

Major, who helped lay the foundations of the 1998 agreement that ended two decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland when he was in government, said it would imperil the United Kingdom government’s impartial role in the peace process.

Irish premier Enda Kenny has told Theresa May the outworking of the General Election must not put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.

The 1998 peace accord, which provides the template for powersharing at Stormont, commits the United Kingdom and Irish governments to demonstrate “rigorous impartiality” when it comes to the differing political traditions in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kenny, who will formally retire as Taoiseach in the coming days to be replaced by new Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, said he spoke with Mrs May about protecting the Good Friday Agreement. Neither party could agree on forming a new Executive and a deadline for agreement to be reached passed, which legally meant another election had to be called or “direct rule” be imposed from London.