Peter Hain: Open border and Good Friday agreement 'should not be touched' in Brexit talks

Peter Hain: Open border and Good Friday agreement 'should not be touched' in Brexit talks
Peter Hain

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain says that the Good Friday agreement and an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland “should not be touched.”

He told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that the open border issue is the Achilles heel of Brexit and that common customs and a single market agreement are the only solutions to the Irish border.

The Irish government is right and should not budge on the matter of the Good Friday Agreement, he said.

“It is an international treaty.”

The Labour peer added that he could not see the Irish government agreeing to a bilateral deal, as they could not because it would breach EU regulations.

The Good Friday Agreement is a bilateral agreement between the Republic and the UK, but it is underpinned internationally and to seek any changes would “lead back to Brussels, as it should,” said Mr Hain.

“This is getting messier by the day. The red line should be avoiding a hard border and maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.

To tamper with the Good Friday Agreement is to tamper with the peace process and should be avoided.

He described the current situation in the UK as “an astonishing mess” that was “unprecedented in living memory.”

The British government was “in absolute shambles with no one clear answer.”

There is a need to go back to basics, he said, but the Good Friday Agreement and the open border should not be touched.

When asked about the bombing in Derry at the weekend, he said that in times of uncertainty and instability there was an opportunity for terrorists and troublemakers who always wanted to undermine the peace process.

He said he could not see the “Derry/Londonderry bomb separate from this shambles.”

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