Northern Ireland news

Mary Lou McDonald: British politicians have 'blatant disregard' for Ireland

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said the British government is "actively hostile" towards Ireland. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association
Nadia Breen

THE British government has a "blatant disregard" for the upholding of the Good Friday Agreement and the interests of Ireland, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Ms McDonald accused the government of "active hostility", dismissing a claim made by former Brexit secretary David Davis that it simply had "a blind spot" concerning Ireland.

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking a day after the British prime minister won a no-confidence vote in the Commons.

Theresa May saw off a bid to remove her government after her plan for leaving the EU was rejected.

Ms McDonald told the BBC the British government's "hostility has been absolutely manifest for some time now".

"I don't think this is a case of blissful ignorance on the part of strong elements of the British establishment," he said.

"I think this is the policy of 'Britannia rules the waves', a harking back to an imperial past."

She added that the "British state... has more than a blind spot" when it comes to Ireland and Brexit.

"They have a blatant disregard for the international obligations under that international agreement (the Good Friday Agreement)."

Mr Davis told MPs on the EU scrutiny committee at Westminster on Wednesday that the government had failed to understand the Republic's difficulties with Brexit.

He cited Leo Varadkar taking over from Enda Kenny as taoiseach and the lack of a Stormont executive as reasons for this.

"The original taoiseach took a slightly more constructive approach than came later... the attitude of the Irish authorities in the first year was different," he said.

"It might be a coincidence that it changed at the time Mr Varadkar came in, or it might have been his drive.

"Either way, it changed and we probably didn't react quickly enough, without the Northern Ireland executive sitting on the joint ministerial committee... there was a blind spot there."

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