By Ray O'Hanlon
As a conference on the Good Friday Agreement was concluding in Manhattan today, members of Congress in Washington were urging President Trump to appoint a special envoy in an effort to restart stalled political talks leading to a return of devolved government.
The Conference, “20 Years of Peace,” held at the Metropolitan Club, was jointly organized by Co-operation Ireland and Irish Central and among the notable members of a number of discussion panels were former Senator George Mitchell, architect of the Belfast agreement and Nancy Soderberg, a key player in the Clinton administration’s intervention that led to the accord.
The question of an envoy was raised more than once with panelists leaning either way on the issue.
The concluding speech at the conference, however, leaned strongly in favor when Jim Clerkin the chairman of Co-operation Ireland USA, made a plea for the return of a special envoy.
More or less at the same time as Clerkin was speaking, the Friends of Ireland group in Congress, led by Democrat Richie Neal and Republican Peter King, was issuing a statement urging President Trump to name a new special envoy, so honoring a commitment he made in September of last year.
The statement said that the members of the Friends of Ireland believed it was an appropriate time for renewed U.S. engagement.
“Our contribution to the peace process has been described as indispensable on both sides of the Atlantic. And with efforts to restore devolution at an impasse, we believe a U.S. Special Envoy could make an important contribution to those negotiations, just as Senator George Mitchell did two decades ago,” the Friends statement said in part.