Lord Tebbit has been busy in the Lords of late. He’s also asked this of Her Majesty’s Government: what is the nature of the “partnership, north and south” which the joint statement of the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach of the Irish Republic at Armagh on 6 April envisaged would give expression to “the legitimate aspiration of nationalists and republicans for a united Ireland”.
Jeff Rooker answered thus: The Prime Minister emphasised in his speech accompanying the joint statement of 6 April that the Belfast agreement was based on, “mutual respect for a difference of view”, in which both unionist and nationalist aspirations held equal legitimacy. The Government’s preference remains for the full implementation of that agreement. Should recalled Assembly members be unable to elect a First Minister and Deputy First Minister and form an executive by November 24, there would be a need to develop further British-Irish partnership arrangements. Such arrangements would ensure that the Belfast agreement’s provisions for practical co-operation on a north-south and east-west basis were actively developed for the benefit of all.
Gary Kent is a graduate of international relations. After spells in management in British Rail and the Co-Op he began work in parliament in 1987 where he was active for two decades on Anglo-Irish peace activity against terrorism and now as secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which he has visited 27 times since 2006. He used to be a columnist for Fortnight Magazine and writes a regular column for the Kurdish Rudaw outlet and many other publications.