DUP leader Arlene Foster announcing the lack of a talks breakthrough on Monday of this week. RolingNews.ie photo
By Ray O’Hanlon
With the collapse of talks seeking to restore the devolved Northern Ireland Government, the Ancient Order of Hibernians has expressed its concern over the future of U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement, and has renewed calls for the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland peace and political process.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and members of Congress, AOH Political Education Chairman Neil Cosgrove said that the statement from DUP leader Arlene Foster – that there was no prospect that continued negotiations would lead to a restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government – indicated that the Good Friday Agreement and the progress of the past twenty years were “in dire peril.”
Stated the letter: “For Ms. Foster and the DUP to raze the Northern Ireland government over the canard that an Irish Language Act is a ‘new demand’ is unconscionable.
“The commitment to an Irish Language Act is stipulated in decades-old signed agreement and is another example of the DUP’s failure to act in good faith.
“The intransigence of the DUP to enact an Irish language act is a renunciation of their Good Friday obligation to act with ‘mutual respect for the identity and ethos of both communities and parity of esteem.’
“The DUP should no longer be enabled in their cynical attempts to reverse the roles of victim and offender by attacking those who seek nothing more than the fulfillment of their previous commitments.”
The letter continued: “The refusal of the DUP to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he attempted to aid in negotiations is an arrogant repudiation of the Republic of Ireland as co-signer and partner in the Good Friday Agreement.
“That the DUP again demonstrated that they possess a veto over Prime Minister May’s Northern Ireland policy decisions highlights the absurdity that the British Government can simultaneously honor its GFA commitment to act with ‘rigorous impartiality’ in Northern Ireland while dependent on ten DUP seats to cling to power.
“The Good Friday Agreement was a landmark in U.S. Diplomacy; the devolved, power-sharing government of Northern Ireland a milestone achievement.
“A return to direct rule from Westminster coupled with the prospect of a Brexit ‘hard border’ will do incalculable damage to the Good Friday Agreement and the twenty years of peace it has engendered.
“Good Friday was only made possible when the U.S. signaled its interest in Northern Ireland by appointing a capable Special Envoy in the person of Senator George Mitchell,” the letter stated.
And it concluded: “It is time for the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to a lasting peace with justice in Northern Ireland.
“In September 2017, President Trump committed to appointing a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland; the AOH reminds the president of his pledge and asks him to honor it before the Good Friday Agreement is irretrievably undermined.”