Empey welcomes Government clarity in ruling out the possibility of Joint Authority
Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has welcomed a written answer received from NIO Minister Lord Caine, in which Lord Caine made it clear that the Government will not be considering Joint Authority for Northern Ireland.
Lord Empey said:
“Recently there were a number of calls for joint authority between London and Dublin to be imposed if there is no restoration of an Executive at Stormont.
“The Ulster Unionist Party obviously rejects any idea of Joint Authority and would regard it as the clearest possible breach of the principle of consent, thereby dealing a fatal blow to the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
“Seeking clarity, I tabled a question asking His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for the establishment of joint authority over Northern Ireland by the UK and the government of the Republic of Ireland. (HL3051).
“I have now received a response and I welcome the clarity it provides. Lord Caine said ‘Joint authority is not and will not be considered by this Government. As we set out clearly in our Northern Ireland manifesto at the 2019 General Election, the consent principle in the 1998 Belfast Agreement governs the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. On that basis, Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the United Kingdom.’
Lord Caine also said that ‘the manifesto said: “A Conservative Government will always defend and uphold the consent principle as set out in the Belfast Agreement and we will never agree to any arrangements that are inconsistent with it”. Our manifesto also set out our commitment to the long-established three-stranded approach to Northern Ireland affairs, under which internal, Strand One, matters are for the Northern Ireland parties and the United Kingdom government ultimately to decide. We will continue to stand by these manifesto commitments.’
“The Ulster Unionist Party welcomes this answer and the clarity it provides and trusts that this will put an end to talk of Joint Authority, which is as unhelpful as it is unwelcome.”