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Ulster Unionist Leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has promised to stand firm in defence of the true interpretation of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement when he meets the American political delegation headed by Congressman Richard Neal on Thursday.

Mr Beattie said:


“Much has been said about the need to protect the 1998 Agreement, at times by those who gave the changes made at St Andrews scant regard. One of the fundamental principles of that agreement is that change requires the consent of the people and the Northern Ireland Protocol does not have the consent of the unionist community. The history of Northern Ireland shows that treaties which do not have the support of all communities will simply not work. Look no further than the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. Like the current Protocol, it was imposed on the people of Northern Ireland, who rejected it in huge numbers and it was replaced with the Belfast Agreement. The Protocol will face the same fate.


“Americans should understand the consent principle very well from their own past. They broke from British rule in 1776 on the slogan ‘no taxation without representation’ which outlined a simple yet important democratic deficit. The people of Northern Ireland did not have a voice in the design of the Protocol. If they had, I am confident checks on goods moving to Northern Ireland from Great Britain as a final destination would never have been included in any trade deal with the EU. The democratic deficit would have been dealt with and the principle of consent upheld, ensuring the Belfast Agreement was not damaged.


“I shall be making this point to the Congressman on Thursday in a constructive manner and trust he will agree that the consent principle must apply equally to all communities if we are truly to honour the spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”