Belfast Agreement was always fatally flawed: Campbell

DUP's Gregory Campbell.
DUP's Gregory Campbell.

Gregory Campbell has said that he believes voting against the Belfast Agreement in 1998 was still the right thing to do.

The East Londonderry MP says that the accord - signed 20 years ago yesterday - was fundamentally flawed, forcing democrats to give while terrorists did all the taking.

“It’s now twenty years since the Belfast Agreement was negotiated,” he said.

“Many people are marking the event in different ways. In the intervening two decades, the truth has been lost or obscured.

“The narrative that is now peddled is that the Belfast Agreement was an historic document which brought peace.

“The facts are that both the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries had declared ceasefires some four years previously and an Agreement flowed from those respective ceasefires but despite the hyperbole, it was fundamentally flawed.

“The Agreement was supported by the vast majority of Nationalists but had approximately a 50/50 split for and against it in the Unionist community.

“Voting for it was presented as voting for peace and a new start, I was then and remain glad now that I campaigned against it, not on the basis that I was opposed to peace.

“Indeed I and my community had more to gain than most from peace, but that it was the wrong basis on which to build a solid and peaceful future.

“The roots of our current problems go back to 20 years ago, as it was then that vicious killers were offered ‘get out of jail free’ cards and they concluded that negotiations could bring more concessions for them and their political surrogates when they forced the democrats to give while the terrorists did the taking.

“There are solid lessons we can learn from the mistakes of 20 years ago, those who supported murder back then and now glorify it, have to understand that peaceful progress and mutual respect is a two-way process.

“We, as Unionists cannot rest on our laurels even with an extra hundred thousand votes for the DUP last year we must continue building the peace and pressing for a better future for all.

“In a country where there appears to be competing demands for Irish/British recognition, it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate that just as

an Irish State doesn’t and

cannot contemplate our British identity we can rise above that exclusiveness and show that we have already demonstrated that this British State can and does include an Irish identity.”