Labour MP Creasy criticises Republic for silence over Rwanda plan’s impact on Belfast Agreement

Tánaiste Micheál Martin ignored pleas for intervention, high-profile MP says

A high-profile Labour MP in Britain has complained she is being ignored by Tánaiste Micheál Martin after raising concerns with him over the UK government’s attitude to the Belfast Agreement.

Stella Creasy, who also chairs Labour’s Movement for Europe, has also called on the Government to stand up for the agreement by challenging UK prime minister Rishi Sunak over his proposed new Rwanda deportation regime, which could disrupt the 26-year-old treaty that ended the Troubles.

Ms Creasy wrote to Mr Martin on December 7th asking for his views on the UK’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, which aims to enable the deportation to the African country of illegal migrants in the UK. The Bill, which was passed in the House of Commons but is now stuck in the House of Lords, proposes to restrict the ability of migrants in the UK to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

That appears to be a potential breach of the Belfast Agreement, which enshrined access to the ECHR as a right for all people in the North. Mr Sunak this week also threatened this week to completely withdraw from the convention underpinning the ECHR if the court tries to stop his Rwanda plan.


Ms Creasy says Mr Martin and the Government have “steadfastly refused” to respond to her December letter and subsequent attempts to raise concerns over the potential threat to the Belfast Agreement from Mr Sunak’s Rwanda deportation plan.

“I want them to defend the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and that means holding the UK government to account,” she said.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have both expressed concerns over the impact of the Rwanda plan on the North’s peace treaty.

Irish government sources, meanwhile, say Mr Martin and his officials are wary of being seen to pick another fight with Mr Sunak’s government on this issue, having already recently filed legal action against the UK for unilaterally giving immunity, including to British soldiers, for crimes committed during the Troubles.

The sources say the Tánaiste is reluctant to get dragged into a controversial aspect of UK domestic politics, such as the Rwanda debate, and this is also why the Department of Foreign Affairs has stonewalled Ms Creasy, who has grown increasingly frustrated at the lack of a response.

Ms Creasy told The Irish Times this week it is “obvious” the UK government did not even consult the Government in the Republic about the provisions of the Rwanda Bill that appear to contradict the ECHR clause of the Belfast Agreement.

“If I was the Irish Government, I would be very insulted by the approach in the UK. If they didn’t even bother asking you before making changes that affect the Good Friday Agreement, then what else might they do without consultation?” said Ms Creasy.

She has previously requested help from Labour TDs, including the party’s leader Ivana Bacik, by challenging the Government in the Dáil over its reluctance to become involved. They received only vague responses.

Mr Martin’s officials this week chose not to directly comment when asked about why his department was ignoring Ms Creasy on the issue, and referred instead to a previous response to Ms Bacik in which the Tánaiste said only that the Government was “following” the UK’s Rwanda debate.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times