Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to outline a timeline for the implementation of outstanding commitments contained in the Good Friday Agreement. Welcoming the Stormont House Agreement, Deputy Smith noted the progress that has been made, but remains concerned about significant gaps which remain almost 17 years later.
He commented, “This Government has taken a very hands-off approach to important issues in the North. Despite all the groundwork being laid by the previous administrations, we have seen negotiations stalled for almost three years. I welcome the signing of the Stormont House Agreement, which marks a step forward in the reconciliation process but I have concerns that the issue may fall down the Government agenda once again.
“While the recent progress must be acknowledged, processes should be put in place to ensure the agreement is implemented through the workings of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, the North/South Ministerial Council and also with the co-operation of the British and Irish Governments.
“The Minister must also address the significant concerns which have been made in relation to the new agreement, namely that it does not fully address certain issues, such as the proposed Bill of Rights, which was a commitment in the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish language Act – Acht na Gaeilge; and the also the re-establishment of the Civic Forum. The SDLP, which has been the bedrock of progress in Northern Ireland, has been to the forefront in highlighting these concerns, and I hope the Minister can work with all of the Parties to ensure that these issues are addressed in a more meaningful way”.