U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Sure, there’s North Korea.
But Northern Ireland is also on Washington’s foreign policy to-do list.
Or so it is to be hoped.
As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson scrapped the post of U.S. Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process.
Before leaving office he revived it.
Separately, President Trump had indicated his support for the idea.
And now the Ancient order of Hibernians wants Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, to put a face on the post by naming an envoy.
In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, AOH National Political Education Chairman, Neil Cosgrove, asked the nation’s chief diplomat to clarify the status of the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland as earlier committed to by the president.
The letter states: “During your 23 May testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in response to a question from Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, regarding the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, you stated…that you were unaware both of the status of the appointment and of a bipartisan letter signed by 32 congressional representatives urging said appointment.
“We find the lack of awareness on the status of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland and the lack of knowledge regarding a letter signed by 32 elected representatives by the President’s chief advisor on foreign affairs deeply concerning.”
And the letter continued: “The Good Friday Agreement is one of America’s premier diplomatic successes; the U.S. Special Envoy is acknowledged as being pivotal to the achievement of this historic agreement which ended three decades of violence.
“The Good Friday Agreement is viewed around the world as a seminal U.S. diplomatic achievement and a persuasive example that there are diplomatic and legislative alternatives to violence in addressing grievance no matter how old or culturally ingrained.
“This landmark achievement in the cause of peace, and the legacy of American leadership in bringing it about, is now under unprecedented threat.
“Brexit threatens to destroy the bridges that the Good Friday Agreement has built between the communities of Ireland and replacing them with hard borders.
“Twenty years on, the core concepts of parity of esteem and mutual respect remains elusive in the north of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement’s commitments to a Bill of Rights for the people of Northern Ireland, justice for the victims of the legacy of ‘the Troubles’ and even something as benign as support for the ability to speak the Irish language in the north of Ireland remain unfulfilled.”
The letter concluded: “I respectfully remind you Mr. Secretary that the President in published accounts on 9/26/17 committed to the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.
“In February of this year, in conversations with the Republic of Ireland’s Foreign Minister, the administration stated that they had a short list of names and the appointment of a Special Envoy was imminent.
“It is therefore puzzling and disconcerting that the Secretary of State now tells the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the American people he doesn't know the status of the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.
“We respectfully ask Secretary Pompeo that the State Department immediately clarify to Congress and the American people the status of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland and the estimated time to fulfill the President’s commitment to fill this position.”