Former Irish leader Bertie Ahern calls for review of Good Friday Agreement

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern  (PA Wire)
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern (PA Wire)

One of the architects of the Good Friday agreement has suggested that the historic Northern Ireland peace deal should be reformed.

Former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said the landmark agreement should be amended in order to prevent political parties interfering with the self-government of Northern Ireland ever again.

Mr Ahern, who signed the peace deal with former Labour leader Tony Blair in 1998, said there was a strong case to be made that the agreement should be amended to stop either the DUP or Sinn Fein from unilaterally collapsing the devolved institutions in the province in future.

He told BBC’s The Week in Westminster: “There is a review clause in the Agreement, it’s only been triggered once, in 2006, where people can sit down and look at any issues.

“The biggest one is how you make sure the institutions cannot collapse on the say-so of one party. At the moment it is the DUP.

“Previously, it was Sinn Féin. Way back years ago, it was the secretary of state [or Northern Ireland.”

He added that there must be cross-community consent to the review.

“In a divided society like Northern Ireland, I’m afraid that’s the way it’s going to have to operate for the foreseeable future,” he added.

It comes after MPs this week endorsed Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework agreement, 515 votes to 29.

Twenty-two Tory MPs voted against the Government, in defiance of a three-line whip, including Mr Sunak’s two predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

A further 48 did not vote, but they included some MPs who were in favour of the deal but were granted permission to abstain by Conservative whips.

Mr Sunak was later seen celebrating with Steve Baker, a former hard-line Brexiteer turned enthusiastic supporter of the prime minister’s deal.

Overall support for the Windsor framework among voters in Northern Ireland outstrips opposition to the deal by almost three to one, according to polls.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic formally signed the deal.

Mr Sefcovic hailed it as an agreement that would deliver “lasting certainty” for people in Northern Ireland while promising that London and Brussels would “exploit the full potential” of the wider trade deal.

“We’ve formally adopted the Windsor Framework,” Mr Cleverly said.

“This delivers on our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland. Great to see you in London,” tweeted to Mr Sefcovic.