Irish premier Micheal Martin has called on the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) to reconsider its decision to withdraw support for the Good Friday Agreement.
The PUP said unionists should not support the peace deal because the consent principle, which is central to the 1998 accord, has been undermined by Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
Martin said: “I would say to the PUP and others to reconsider that decision. They have been a party supportive of the Good Friday Agreement.
“I would not agree with the comments that have been attributed to that party this morning in respect of the agreement itself, or in terms of the issue of consent.
“There’s been a transformation in relationships north/south, within Northern Ireland, over time.”
Earlier, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said: “A Belfast Agreement which is based upon a deception on the core constitutional protection that was said to exist for our community is not the Belfast Agreement I signed up to and urged others to support in 1998.”
He set out a plan for restoring unionist and loyalist confidence.
He urged the UK Government to initiate a review of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act, which gave legislative effect to the agreement, with a “view to strengthening the principle of consent”.
He said the cross-community consent mechanism in the Assembly, which requires proposals to achieve the support of both a majority of nationalists and a majority of unionists, must be applied to any vote on the continuance of post-Brexit trading arrangements.
The vote on the continuance of the protocol, due in 2024, is currently based on a straight majority vote.
Mr Hutchinson also called for the restoration of the concept of “equal citizenship” across the UK. He said key to achieving that was restoring commitments in the Acts of Union that all parts of the UK be on an equal footing in matters of trade and treaties.
He added: “I will continue to work constructively with leaders of all other unionist parties, and key stakeholders within the unionist family, to secure the removal of the intolerable and constitutionally damaging protocol.”