Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal
By Ray O’Hanlon
The spring, 2018 flowering of Irish American political activity in support of the Good Friday Agreement and political progress in Northern Ireland has carried into May.
Congressman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY) co-chairs of the congressional Friends of Ireland, have reaffirmed their support for the Good Friday Agreement, which recently marked its twentieth anniversary.
King and Neal said in a statement release Monday, May 7: “As Co-Chairs of the bi-partisan Friends of Ireland Caucus in the United States Congress, we would like to reaffirm our strong support for the Good Friday Agreement and urge the political parties in Belfast to reach an accommodation so that the devolved institutions at Stormont can be restored as soon as possible.
“After years of direct rule, local representatives, elected on a cross community basis, should once again be making decisions about the jurisdiction’s future. At the end of the day, solving disputes in the crucible of politics was a basic concept at the core of the agreement.
“The groundbreaking settlement, signed by the two governments and the political parties in 1998, brought peace and stability to the island of Ireland. It was approved by the overwhelming majority of the people, north and south, in a referendum one month later.
“The accord provided a framework for a shared future based upon the principles of partnership, equality and mutual respect. And two decades later, it remains a model of successful conflict resolution across the globe.”
Neal and King are sticking with the model.
“There is no Plan B,” they assert in their joint statement.
And they continued: “On the 20th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we believe the United States should continue to play a meaningful role in the peace process in order to ensure that all aspects of that hard won truce are implemented in full.
“While violence may be a thing of the past, the process of reconciliation takes time and needs to be sustained and nurtured.
“And Brexit has brought more complexities and challenges to the equation. That is why we will continue to play our role as honest broker in urging the political parties to reach a deal on power sharing at the earliest opportunity.”