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UK Government tables motion reaffirming commitment to Acts of Union

A motion states there is no basis in the Good Friday Agreement for joint authority with the Republic of Ireland in the governance of Northern Ireland.

Jonathan McCambridge
Tuesday 20 February 2024 06:24 GMT
The UK Government has tabled a motion reaffirming commitment to the Acts of Union (Liam McBurney/PA)
The UK Government has tabled a motion reaffirming commitment to the Acts of Union (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Archive)

The UK Government has tabled a parliamentary motion stating that there is no basis in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for joint authority with the Republic of Ireland in the governance of Northern Ireland.

The move follows a commitment in the Command Paper “Safeguarding the Union”, which led to the restoration of the Stormont powersharing executive after two years of political deadlock.

The Government agreed the deal with the DUP, which included the pledge to provide a mechanism for Parliament to re-affirm its commitment to the Acts of Union.

The motion has been tabled as a Humble Address, a mechanism by which Parliament communicates with the King.

The motion welcomes the return of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland and re-affirms the “importance of upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 in all its strands”.

It also acknowledges the “foundational importance of the Acts of Union 1800, including the economic provisions under Article 6 of those Acts”.

It continues: “Recognising that, consistent with section 23(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, executive power in Northern Ireland shall continue to be vested in His Majesty, and that joint authority is not provided for in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 in respect of the UK and Irish Governments.”

The motion has been laid by  Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and ministers Alex Chalk, Michael Gove, David T C Davies, Alister Jack and Laura Trott.

It will be debated in the Commons and the Lords on dates to be announced.

The DUP ended its two year boycott of devolved government in Northern Ireland earlier this month after striking a deal with the Government which party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said met his concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements and sovereignty.

With the Assembly restored, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has become the first nationalist First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Her party leader Mary Lou McDonald has predicted that an Irish unity poll will be held before 2030.

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