Rediscover Good Friday accord spirit, Corbyn urges Northern Ireland

Cristina Cross
May 27, 2018

Mr Corbyn, who is spending two days in Northern Ireland, also used his speech at Queen's to make clear that Labour will not support a Brexit deal which results in the re-imposition of a hard border on the island.

Mr Corbyn addressed a meeting of business leaders in Londonderry: "Please, to the parties in Stormont: you have to come together to re-form a government there".

What I am asking for is a return to the fullness of the Good Friday Agreement which would open up the opportunity and possibility for the future of Ireland as a whole.

The porous 300-mile frontier is one of the most vexed issues facing negotiators in Brussels but Northern Ireland has no ministers to intervene since devolved Government at Stormont collapsed more than a year ago.

Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis dismissed Mr Corbyn's comments, accusing Labour of saying one thing in private and another in public, in a reference to shadow global trade secretary Barry Gardiner's description of the Belfast Agreement as a "shibboleth", for which he subsequently apologised.

Northern Ireland's rudderless public services were thrown into sharp relief recently when a Civil Service decision to approve a major incinerator project in the continued absence of powersharing ministers was overturned by a court.

The British Government has said it is focused on securing a customs deal which would avoid the need for such a backstop and has ruled out anything which would create a regulatory difference between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn will on Thursday call on the British government to reconvene British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in an effort to revive power sharing at Stormont.

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"Let me be clear, Labour will not support any Brexit deal that includes the return of a hard border to this island", Mr Corbyn said.

Convening the BIIC is favoured by nationalists, but opposed by the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) who regard it as a "talking shop".

The welcome Jeremy Corbyn received at Queen's University was nearly as warm as the weather.

Labour supports a democratically-elected second chamber.

He added that he was committed to the Good Friday Agreement, which stipulates that a united Ireland may only occur with the majority consent of people in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Labour leader is expected to say: "Devolution and power-sharing have given every community a voice and helped maintain the peace process".

Earlier this week, the Labour Party in Northern Ireland said it was disappointed that Mr Corbyn had not made plans to meet them during his visit. Never. And whilst Marxism has always been an important strand of thought for some in the party, previous Labour chancellors would never have said they were working to "overthrow capitalism" as John McDonnell did...

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