Senator Chris Murphy meeting with young leaders in Belfast during his recent visit to Ireland
By Ray O’Hanlon
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy will be hosting a Brexit discussion event in Fairfield, Connecticut as a follow on to his recent visit to Dublin, Belfast and London as part of a congressional delegation.
The event, which is entitled “Keeping the Peace: A Conversation About Ireland and Northern Ireland In The Age of Brexit,” will be, said Murphy’s office, an opportunity for the Democratic senator to discuss his trip and what the United States can do to preserve the peace attained by the Good Friday accords.
Joining Murphy will be former Connecticut congressman Bruce Morrison, who was intimately involved in the peace process.
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The event is set for Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Fairfield Gaelic American Club, 74 Beach Road in Fairfield. Space being limited, those interested should RSVP to [email protected].
As a backdrop to the Fairfield gathering, Irish American political leaders have been warning that the UK can expect opposition to any trade deal with the U.S. should there be a hard border in Ireland post-Brexit.
In the House of Representatives, Congressman Brendan Boyle from Pennsylvania has been stating this and now in the Senate, Senator Murphy is raising the profile of the issue.
Murphy told the Irish Times during his Irish visit that there would be “no chance” of a U.S.-UK trade deal being signed off if there was a return to a hard border on the island.
Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in Dublin that Congress would have the “final say” on any trade deal with Britain and he did not think there was the support to ratify an agreement “if there are big outstanding questions about the peace process.”
Said Murphy as reported by the Times: “We are all friends of Britain – it is an unbreakable bond – but we can’t compromise the sanctity of the Good Friday Agreement and folks in [the UK] parliament need to know that.”
The Times report pointed out that Murphy was the first U.S. senator to raise publicly the prospect of blocking a trade agreement with the UK if there was a hard border after Brexit.
Murphy told reporters after a meeting with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, that his preference was for a U.S. trade deal with the EU to be prioritized ahead of any agreement with the UK, a scenario that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar suggested during last month’s White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
“There is much more consensus in Congress about the priority of protecting the Good Friday Agreement. Not as many share my view that we should do an EU agreement before a Britain agreement but, in the United States Senate, it only takes a minority of senators to stop a trade agreement,” said Murphy.