The Good Friday Agreement must be amended because it “simply is not producing good government” in its current form, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.
Former UUP leader David Trimble was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the agreement.
However, 25 years to the day since the agreement was signed, the party’s current leader believes it is time to revisit it.
“We’re in another difficult place,” Doug Beattie told Late Breakfast with Claire McKenna.
“Certainly, the Belfast Agreement as it was in 1998 needs revising, it needs to be changed.
“But you can only do that when you have a stable foundation; you nearly have to go backwards in order to go forwards - go back to the overriding principles of the Belfast Agreement of 1998.
“Once you have that and power sharing up and running again, then we can look at how we can change it, amend it and make it fit for the next 25 years.
“Because at this moment in time, the mandatory coalition - as it stands - simply is not producing good government and we need to fix it.”
The Northern Ireland Executive has been suspended numerous times since 1998 and is currently on a hiatus because of the DUP’s unhappiness with post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Unlike the DUP - which campaigned to leave the EU in 2016, the UUP recommended a Remain vote and Mr Beattie believes the events of the past seven years have proven the party right on this issue.
“I remember even the day before Brexit, our MEP at the time, Jim Nicholson, saying, ‘If we vote for Brexit, we will have border checkpoints in our ports and airports,’” Mr Beattie recalled.
“And he was laughed at and look at where we are now with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Windsor Framework.”
The new framework aims to ease customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, while also giving Stormont the right to disallow EU law.
The DUP is currently considering whether the deal is good enough to allow them to nominate ministers to serve in the Executive and Mr Beattie is confident they will in time.
“This is all about the choreography of when they return,” he said.
“I thought they would have returned once they were given at least something in regards to the Stormont break in the Windsor Framework and use that as a means to get back - they didn’t take that.
“But I think they will return after our local council elections.”
If you would like to learn more about the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, you can listen to Newstalk’s podcast series As I Remember It: Bertie Ahern and the Good Friday Agreement - in which the former Taoiseach interviews the major figures involved in the negotiations.
Main image: Doug Beattie. Picture by: Alamy.com