North needs ‘special status’ to avoid hard Border, says Adams

‘Irish and British governments have responsibility for equality under Good Friday Agreement’

 Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said a ‘relentless diplomatic offensive’ is required to avoid a ‘hard Border’. Photograph: Collins

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said a ‘relentless diplomatic offensive’ is required to avoid a ‘hard Border’. Photograph: Collins

 

The only way to avoid the creation of a ‘hard Border’ post Brexit is for Northern Ireland to be granted special status within the EU as the people of the North had voted not to leave, according to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

He also called on the Government to engage in a “relentless diplomatic offensive” with the British government to prevent the creation of a hard Border.

On Tuesday British prime minister Theresa May said customs controls on the Border are likely to return when the UK leaves the European Union and said she wants to take the UK out of key parts of the EU customs union.

However, Ms May promised to work with the Government to make such controls as “frictionless” as possible and identified the retaining of the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Britain and Ireland as a key objective in her negotiations with the EU.

In a keynote speech on Brexit, Ms May confirmed the UK would leave the single market after Brexit and ruled out full membership of the customs union.

“I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements. But I also want tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-Border trade there to be as frictionless as possible.

“That means I do not want Britain to be part of the Common Commercial Policy and I do not want us to be bound by the Common External Tariff,” she said.

On Wednesday Mr Adams said: “We have to have an all-island view. Both the Irish and British governments are charged with responsibility for equality under the Good Friday Agreement.”

“The Irish Government needs to be relentless in a diplomatic offensive. It should be ongoing, seamlessly. They should go about the business with an all-island vision.

“The Taoiseach should keep pressing. The British government has been saying no to Ireland for centuries. There is a need to be relentless.”

On the Northern Ireland election, Mr Adams said that Sinn Féin wanted issues such as equality and parity of esteem to be implemented.

“We’re not going back to the status quo.”

Mr Adams said there was a need for a robust independent investigation into the “cash for ash” scandal and internal DUP allegations of corruption. It would be in Arlene Foster’s own interest, he added.

When asked about Brexit, Mr Adams said there was always going to be a hard Brexit. “There’s no way that they can leave without there being a hard Border.”

He said it was unfair for Britain to be allowed ‘to drag one part of this island out of Europe.’

“We have a duty to ensure that there is no hard Border. The only way that can happen is if the North has special status.”