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Belfast Agreement needs to be protected from the backstop – Swann

Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann MLA, has stated that unless the issue of the backstop is addressed, the Prime Minister`s woes will continue.

Mr Swann said:

“Twenty one years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement and it is being undermined by those who publicly claim to defend it and defended by those who once attacked it.

“It is the principle of consent, which sits at the heart of the Belfast Agreement, which the agreement`s detractors in the DUP now use to defend Northern Ireland`s place within the United Kingdom. The principle of consent was a strategic victory for Unionism and it’s a pity that the DUP didn`t have some strategic vision in the wake of the 2017 General Election result and the subsequent Joint Report between the EU and UK in December 2017. Instead of exerting the influence wisely which they claimed to have in their ‘unparalleled position at Westminster’, they squandered it.

“They were warned and they didn`t listen. When the Joint Report containing the despised backstop was published in December 2017, the DUP welcomed its publication, with Ian Paisley MP hailing the agreement saying, ‘Frankly, whatever efforts are made to characterise this week Leo Varadkar was done over by the EU, the UK and the DUP.’

“His description of what happened could not be further from reality. Rather than the Republic of Ireland being ‘done over’, it is our own government which has been tied up in knots by the inclusion of the backstop which undermines the principle of consent underpinning the Belfast Agreement.

“Unionists of all shades and opinion should continue to resist attempts by the EU, Irish Government and others who wilfully misrepresent the Belfast Agreement, and tell them to seek a sensible agreement which doesn’t annex Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. No matter what way it is shaped the backstop is a direct attack on the bedrock of the Belfast Agreement and unless a new approach is adopted, Mrs May`s woes will continue.”

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