Jump to content

Anglo-Irish Agreement Implementation Act 1986


John Hewitt
 Share

Recommended Posts


 

Quote

Anglo-Irish Agreement Implementation Act 1986
A. Authorizes the sharing of police and security service intelligence and cooperation of security, law enforcement and judicial resources with the Republic of Ireland related to the matters of: 
(1) Preventing: cross Ulster border paramilitary operations, organized crime, the transfer of financial or material resources and weapons for paramilitary organizations, evasion from lawful arrest or detention efforts of suspected paramilitary members, recruiting of members into paramilitary organizations and other areas that may be further agreed upon by their respective governments.
(2) Preventing the flow of weapons, financial and material resources or recruitment materials for paramilitary organizations from countries outside of the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom.
(3) Enhanced cooperation in the investigation and resolution of criminal complaints and the extradition of alleged or convicted criminals related to paramilitary activities, including but not limited to where the alleged offenses occurred along the Ulster border, or the alleged offender fled across the border to avoid apprehension.
B. Empowers the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or their designee to:
(1) Authorize the necessary administrative, personnel and financial resources to facilitate the secured distribution and collection of ballot papers for Dáil Éireann elections concerning seats designated for Northern Ireland.
(2) Authorize the necessary administrative, personnel and financial resources to facilitate a border poll in Northern Ireland to be held no later than the end of 1993 and every 20 years following in compliance with the Revised Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1986.
(3) Make Ministerial Orders not inconsistent with statute to facilitate the requirements of the Revised Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1986.

 

John Hewitt MP

Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden 

Conservative Party 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Speaker,

I am very pleased to present the Anglo-Irish Agreement Implementation Act 1986 to the House. This legislation will extend the statutory authority of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to implement portions of the Revised Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1986 and further our commitment to resource and intelligence sharing with the Republic of Ireland on the issues of counterterrorism and security. This important legislation will advance the agreement negotiated in Ottawa and take  steps to enhance security, improve dialogue, reaffirm our commitment to governance by consent and underscore the rule of law. 

John Hewitt MP

Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden 

Conservative Party 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Speaker,

The House has already heard my thoughts extensively on the agreement.

Unlike the Foreign Secretary, who hurriedly cobbled together this deal to save his own skin, the Labour Party wants to act in the national interest. At this junction, it is hard to assess where that lies.

On one hand, we do not want to stand in the way of vital aid to Northern Ireland or to strengthened counterterrorism channels with the Republic of Ireland. These are good things we support the government in pursuing, even if they've taken us on a bizarre, messy journey to get there in no part thanks to the Foreign Secretary's incompetence.

However, the deal as it stands is so poorly written one will ask if it will be in the national interest for us to provide a rubber stamp of approval. We are happy to support compromise, Mr. Speaker, and that includes flawed compromises. But it is clear that what is before us is not a serious attempt to compromise on both the British or Irish side. On the British side, it is the consequence of a Foreign Secretary so weakened by his handling of the initial Anglo-Irish agreement that he has rushed to save his job; on the Irish side, it is an exploitation of that weakness. On both sides, the voices of the Northern Irish people have been drowned out completely, which is the biggest tragedy of this debacle. We are seeing elections for the Irish Dail being run in Northern Ireland without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. We are seeing a border poll imposed arbitrarily every two decades without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. And we are seeing the government explicitly legislate to allow the people of Northern Ireland to vote in that election and for that election to potentially lead to the breakup of the union without the inclusion of all communities in Northern Ireland.

These proposals are unsustainable. 

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we will be abstaining on this deal. We believe that is the closest we can come to in forging a position that works in the national interest. I still want to express Labour's desire to see the government convene all of Ireland's communities, encourage dialogue and to find a way forwards that can include all communities. That is not easy and it certainly is not an overnight process, Mr. Speaker, but it is the only sustainable solution. We will support the government should they choose to take it.

Ruth Murphy.

Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton (1974-).

Opposition Whip (1982-).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Speaker,

I want to thank the Shadow Foreign Secretary for her comments and the opportunity she has given me to draw sharply contrasting visions for the future of Northern Ireland.

Throughout this entire negotiating process The Labour Party and the Shadow Foreign Secretary have revealed themselves to be bad actors. They have repeated false claims or manufactured events which have not occurred. They have repeatedly insulted Irish voters and government officials of the Republic of Ireland. They have minimized the important contributions and support from our American and Canadian allies. At a time when we’re encouraging paramilitary organizations to abandon the bullet in favor of the ballot they’ve called into question the legitimacy of democratic elections in Northern Ireland and fanned the blames of discord. All of this not in an attempt to promote a different perspective or an alternative proposal for the peace process but in a pathetic attempt to score cheap political points by gambling with lives on both sides of the border.

This government believes in a different path. We believe it is necessary for all stakeholders and all communities to compromise and take part in good faith efforts to bring a lasting peace to Northern Ireland. There will be no perfect deal. There is no magic wand we can wave. What we can do is take bold steps in the direction of a safer, more stable, more cooperative and more prosperous Northern Ireland so that the future does not reflect the violence and division of the past. It isn’t just about vision. It’s about having the determination to see it through. While Labour has neither of these qualities, this government does. We also have the obligation to protect lives and property and promote the common good even when it is difficult to do so.

What does this agreement actually do Mr. Speaker? As the Labour party has conducted a campaign of misinformation in an attempt to undermine this agreement, let us take the time to lay out what it really achieves:

First, it achieves historic recognition by the Republic of Ireland of the six counties in Ulster as a constituent part of the United Kingdom. This recognition is not just a recognition of the status quo and the long history of Northern Ireland but of the potential for that future to remain indefinitely. This was an unthinkable concession by the Republic just a short time ago and we now have it in hand.

Secondly it create a framework for dialogue between the governments of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the communities within Northern Ireland. It promotes conversation and solution oriented discussions on a host of issues impacting all residents regardless of their background, faith or political beliefs. It does not impose a foreign authority or undermine the rule of law, it only serves to strengthen the belief that cooperation when and where possible towards a common good will improve the lives of everyone.

Thirdly, it recognizes that certain residents of Northern Ireland may wish to have their voices heard in the Dáil Éireann regardless of their political views. It gives Unionists and Republicans alike the power to have their voices heard if they so choose. The Dáil Éireann does not have any authority whatsoever in Northern Ireland. No power to legislate or administer outside of the borders of Ireland. What it does have the ability to do is select its own members and debate issues its members feel important to their future. This is not a strange or inappropriate idea or even one without precedent. Residents of Northern Ireland have already served in the upper chamber of the Irish legislature – I do not recall the Shadow Foreign Secretary clutching her pearls when those individuals took their seats. This agreement clarifies that our responsibility in the United Kingdom related to the functions of the Dail is to merely protect the post. To facilitate the distribution and collection of sealed mail within and across our borders. That is a basic function of the state.

This agreement recognizes not just the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the role of Northern Ireland as part of it but recognizes the legitimacy of the will of the people of Northern Ireland. How do the people express their will and consent to governance? Through free and fair balloting. The 1973 referendum in Northern Ireland was a free and fair poll asking the people to express their views on whether they should remain within the United Kingdom or join the Republic. The Republic of Ireland recognizes the legitimacy of that poll and will recognize the legitimacy of future polls. It is fair that this question is asked for every generation. Every 20 years the people of Northern Ireland will be asked to reaffirm their commitment to the Union or express their desire to leave it. Previously a single community could effectively veto a referendum and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. With the threshold of turnout set to 35% it encourages all communities to have their voices heard and pushes us towards further engagement rather than encouraging lack of participation. There cannot be legitimate governance without the expressed will of the governed through regular and free balloting on the most fundamental of questions.

This agreement assures millions in international financial assistances for investment and support in the peace process. The United States is one of our strongest and most important partners with deep cultural and historical ties to these islands. They want us to achieve peace. They want us to get round the table and talk about these difficult challenges and come up with real solutions. They understood the concerns this government had about our security, and understood concerns others had as well. They kept their promise to provide financial support if we secured and deal and make good faith efforts to adhere to it. We now keep our promise by advancing this agreement and doing everything in our power to responsibility promote a stable peace.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly this agreement secures unprecedented levels of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation with the Republic of Ireland. For too long paramilitary organizations have been able to avoid prosecution. They have evaded efforts to disrupt their activities and deny them weapons. They have been able to spread their hideous ideology, commit acts of violence and hide behind diplomatic red tape and legal quagmires. No more. No more will we allow this to happen. This agreement strengthens counterterrorism channels with the Republic of Ireland and dramatically expands the scope of those efforts. There is now a broad recognition that in order to keep residents of Britain and Ireland safe we must work together to defeat enemies of peace. We’ve made substantial progress in this area through our actions against the IRA and will make further progress when this agreement is fully implemented.

Mr. Speaker,

I recognize that not everyone will support this agreement. I recognize there are some Members of Parliament and some parties that have apprehensions about this agreement. But I also recognize that many of them know as we do that this is the only path. This is the only agreement. There is no other deal in the offing. We must tackle these fundamental issues head on and this agreement addresses every area of concern where there is broad agreement, giving everyone something to hold onto and skin in the game while also asking every community to make common sense concessions.

There is another reality here Mr. Speaker, and that is those who sit on their hands while others act abdicate their responsibilities. Labour has no vision for Northern Ireland. They have no counterproposals. They have made no meaningful contribution to these discussions whatsoever except to question the legitimacy of balloting, insult communities on both sides of the border and practice political theater in a cheap attempt to score points with the press.

We can all see right through that act to the truth. In the wake of the most substantial terrorist attack in our history and the largest defeat delivered to the IRA in decades, Labour:

-          Refuses to support efforts to deny weapons to terrorists.

-          Refuses to support efforts to deny financial support to terrorists.

-          Refuses to support efforts to undermine terrorist recruitment activites.

-          Refuses to support efforts bring terrorists to justice.

-          Refuses to support efforts to extradite criminals who flee from prosecution.

-          Refuses to support efforts to deny terrorists access to resources from abroad.

-          Calls into the question the legitimacy of free and fair referenda.

-          Refuses demonstrate the capacity to take part in responsible governance and promote cooperation toward a sustainable peace.

Those on the fence regarding this agreement have a choice. They can stand with Labour and leave us less strong, less cooperative and less safe or they can reject the failed policies of the past and support a new framework which will strengthen our security, bring communities together and take bold steps towards a lasting peace. The world is watching.

John Hewitt MP

Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden 

Conservative Party 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Speaker,

There's one thing I agree with the Foreign Secretary on: he is determined. It is a shame that determination is spent on keeping his job, and not on doing his job well.

Before I debunk the points made in the Foreign Secretary's bizarre rant, I want the House to bear one thing in mind throughout, and to always remember it whenever the Honourable Gentleman accuses anyone of political opportunism or of being bad actors or of political theatre, something he has started to accuse almost everyone for having the temerity to disagree with him: Labour, Conservative backbenchers, Unionists and the Alliance. We all know that while things in Northern Ireland remained extremely fragile, we in this House recognised the seriousness of the situation, and treaded together with a careful consensus. Yes, many may not have believed the initial Anglo-Irish Agreement was perfect, but we understood the importance of passing it. We knew we had to tread carefully and to do it together.

It was not Conservative backbenchers, the Alliance, Unionists, Labour or myself specifically as the Foreign Secretary wants you to believe that destroyed that consensus.

It was the Foreign Secretary himself. If he is upset that this debate is now political, it is time he take a long, good hard look in the mirror.

He unilaterally trashed the Anglo-Irish Agreement alone in a catastrophic display of political showmanship that he himself has lost. And he is trying to find anybody but himself to blame. It is nothing short of a disgrace. But we can all see the game is up, Mr. Speaker, no matter how determined the Foreign Secretary may be. Not just the Opposition, not just the Unionists the Foreign Secretary used to invite for tea, all of us. Even the Conservatives refuse to rally for him. To see him limp on when he's experienced humiliation after humiliation is what is pathetic, Mr. Speaker, not Labour's opposition to his clumsiness and incompetence. 

Lets take for example the claim that it is Labour insulting the Irish government and communities across Ireland and Northern Ireland, and that we are minimising the contributions of the Americans and Canadians: it is the Home Secretary who said the Irish government was making 'political decisions.' It was the Foreign Secretary who outright insulted unionists who have opposed his deal, labelling them 'dramatics.' It was the Foreign Secretary who saw himself humiliated and condemned on the world stage by the Americans and Irish both, leaving him to enter Ottawa with the weakest hand I've ever seen from a Foreign Secretary. Not me. Him.

And I have not once called into the doubt the legitimacy of elections. Ensuring that a border poll can advance with the consent of all communities in Northern Ireland does not delegitimise free and fair elections. It is the Foreign Secretary who has delegitimised that with his lack of due diligence. Again, not me, him. 

And as for his claim it is the Labour Party that has no vision, I will remind him that the Labour Party has consistently called on the Foreign Secretary to work to establish dialogue with all communities in Northern Ireland and use that dialogue to find a path forward to peace. There is no top down solution in Northern Ireland that works. Because the solution cannot be concocted in Dublin or Westminster - it must be done in Northern Ireland and we must work with the Northern Irish people. And I can guarantee I would be absolutely determined to cut out the politics, cut out the top down solutions and work with people and communities in Northern Ireland to find peace. The Foreign Secretary hasn't seen nothing yet. 

The Foreign Secretary has made lots of erroneous claims about his deal. It is time we cut through the bluster:

Firstly, the recognition of Northern Ireland's constitutional position is hardly a revolutionary concession gleamed by the Foreign Secretary. It is so new, in fact, that is was established by this government months ago. That the Foreign Secretary is boasting that he managed to keep a single concession, which now comes with terms and conditions on the Republic of Ireland's terms, shows how far he has fallen. Instead of building constructively with the Irish government to build on counterterrorism provisions, his incompetence has led to this. To him saying the partial rehashing of the former deal is an achievement he should be able to claim.

Mr. Speaker the point above applies to the Foreign Secretary's second point. He is again trying to rehash provisions in the former agreement which he destroyed as an achievement. 

Mr. Speaker, on the Foreign Secretary's third point, he has just exposed his ignorance as to what he has signed the United Kingdom up for and why it has provoked so much ire from the unionist community in Northern Ireland. If you believed his spin, he has simply given the people of Northern Ireland the right to run in the Republic, which certainly would result in no pearl clutching from myself. But the reality goes deeper than that. The Republic of Ireland will run elections in Northern Ireland and have Northern Ireland constituencies in the Dali. Not just with British approval, but with British funding and assistance. This is not just unprecedented in the United Kingdom; it is unprecedented globally. And if it was a compromise that had the support of the people of Northern Ireland, and of both communities especially, it may be a necessary evil. But we know it has neither of those things. This was forced on them in a stitch up between Westminster and Dublin to save the Foreign Secretary's career. It is not just unacceptable, but it is unsustainable. 

Fourthly the Foreign Secretary's statement that he will recognise the will of the people of Northern Ireland is nothing short of an insult. If you enforce a border poll the people of Northern Ireland or one of their communities do not want with arbitrary timeframes, that is not a win for democracy. Elections should not be enforced on communities without their consent, and it should be the decision of communities, not for the Foreign Secretary, as to when they are held. And the idea that including a 35% minimum provision is a deterrent that will ensure all communities participate is laughable. The Foreign Secretary can't even convince his backbenchers to support this deal; I doubt he'll be able to blackmail whole communities in Northern Ireland. We know before communities have boycotted elections in Northern Ireland. All unionist parties have already announced a boycott. If that boycott goes ahead then the border poll could see Northern Ireland cede from the union, without the consent of all communities in Northern Ireland. The consequences of that are indescribable and the Foreign Secretary refuses to see that because he is adamant, while actually ignoring voices in Northern Ireland, that his chocolate teapot provision will work.

Mr. Speaker, I have repeatedly said that the Labour Party supports the resumption of aid to Northern Ireland and strengthened counterterrorism structures with the Republic of Ireland, and the resuming of aid to Northern Ireland. In fact, when the government were refusing to discuss this thing we were raising this with them. To protect those structures we are explicitly choosing to abstain, even despite this dog's dinner deal. What we do condemn, however, is that the Foreign Secretary mismanaged this situation with immense clumsiness and incompetence that to obtain, or in some cases retain, these provisions he had to cede much of Northern Ireland's sovereignty and had to destroy this House's relationship with the unionist community of Northern Ireland completely. 

The Foreign Secretary can accuse me of political opportunism all he wants. But we know why he is here before the House today. It is not because he is presenting the deal he always wanted to present. After humiliating himself and his country on the world stage, drawing ire from our allies, he went to a negotiation with a weakened hand. This ultimately left him with two choices: to write a letter of resignation or to write the deal we have today. It is not a deal forged on good faith compromise. It is a deal explicitly designed to protect the jobs of the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. He knows it. I know it. The opposition know it. Nationalists, the Republic of Ireland and Unionists alike know it. Even the government and their backbenchers know it. But we must not be allowed to forget it as he continues to try and sell his snake oil. 

Ruth Murphy.

Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton (1974-).

Opposition Whip (1982-).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Speaker,

One of the most interesting parts of the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s line of criticism is how detached from reality it is. When she runs into an inconvenience – facts, evidence, the truth – she simply rewrites events to fit her message and insists they are accurate. No matter how detached from reality her claims are, no matter how absurd, no matter how shockingly pathetic – pull a string in her back and you’ll receive a fabricated comment.

She states for example we ripped up the Anglo-Irish Agreement and destroyed counterterrorism channels. Yet we did no such thing and substantially improved them. She embarrassed herself in this House but a few days ago by revealing she had absolutely no idea at all what an addendum was. She’s accused me of both ripping up an agreement and taking credit for the very same agreement! I think she may have lost her place in her talking points.

She claims we’ve drawn the ire of our allies. Yet we have the support of our closest allies and that support has been unwavering. She claims this government was condemned by the Americans. Where does she come up with this stuff? Absolutely untrue. Completely false and misleading. Dare she claim the Americans do not support this peace deal after they too attended the Ottawa Conference and reaffirmed their financial support for? What about the Canadians? Does she have the audacity to insult the Canadian government and people as she has done repeatedly to the Irish?

She claims the Republic of Ireland will run elections in Northern Ireland. This again is a complete fabrication as no ballots will be counted in Northern Ireland and no officials from the Republic of Ireland will be present in Northern Ireland.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary demonstrates that Labour has no plan whatsoever for Northern Ireland. In the wake of the worst terrorist attack in our history Labour refuses to support historic and meaningful cooperation to fight terrorism, prevent the spread of weapons and financial support for terrorists, prevent terrorist recruitment and bring criminals to justice. Labour refuses to support the historic recognition by the Republic of Northern Ireland as a constituent part of the United Kingdom. Labour repeatedly attacked free and fair elections and has urged communities in Northern Ireland to be skeptical of the fairness of balloting. I have said over and over again the Shadow Foreign Secretary is reckless and irresponsible with her words and doesn’t understand she is dealing with people’s lives.

Under this agreement we’ll work more closely to deny terrorists funding they use to kill. Labour refuses to support it.

Under this agreement we’ll work more closely to deny weapons to terrorists they’ve used to kill our soldiers, police and innocent people. Labour refuses to support it.

Under this agreement we’ll work to quickly extradite criminals and suspects that commit crimes on one side of the border and flee to the other. Labour refuses to support it.

The Labour Party and the Shadow Foreign Secretary have demonstrated their moral bankruptcy. They simply do not care about stopping terrorists, bringing criminals to justice or forging stronger security measures with the Republic. 

John Hewitt MP

Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden 

Conservative Party 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...