Congressman Tom Suozzi pictured recently with retiring Sinn Féin Representative to the U.S., Rita O’Hare
By Ray O’Hanlon
The U.S. House of Representatives has sent a clear signal to the post-election British government: Protect the Good Friday Agreement regardless of Brexit.
The House passed a resolution last week that was introduced by Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY-03) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY-02), which calls on the United Kingdom and European Union to protect lasting peace in Northern Ireland during Brexit negotiations.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-16) cosponsored the resolution and advanced the measure to pass the House.
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The resolution, House Resolution 585, which passed unanimously, calls on the UK and EU to make sure that any Brexit deal includes protections for the Good Friday Agreement and the future of Ireland.
“Ireland is one of the oldest and closest friends of the United States, and the Irish people have been a crucial part of the fabric of our nation for well over a century.
The United States played an important role in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, a momentous achievement that has been largely responsible for the relative peace over the last two decades. Unfortunately, recent events, including Brexit have created uncertainty and put the agreement at risk,” said Rep. Suozzi.
“I am pleased that, in negotiations so far, all parties have agreed that a hard border is an unacceptable outcome and urge the continued adherence to this position. I thank my colleague Peter King, as well as Chairman Eliot Engel, for supporting this bipartisan effort, something that is increasingly rare in our partisan and divided government here in the United States.”
“It is imperative that the United States do all that it can to not only support the Good Friday Agreement but prevent any return of a hard border,” said Rep. King.
“A bad Brexit deal could threaten the continued prosperity and security of Ireland and the Irish people,” said Chairman Engel.
“This measure makes it clear where Congress stands: any Brexit deal must protect the Good Friday Agreement and all its components. We must ensure that nothing compromises the peace, security, and economic prosperity across Ireland.”
The resolution specifically urges the United Kingdom and European Union to ensure that Brexit does not threaten implementation of the Good Friday Agreement or peace on the island of Ireland
It strongly opposes the reintroduction of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA-02), a co-sponsor of the resolution, expressed his support of the House move.
“The Good Friday Agreement was just the start of the creation of peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, not the end,” Boyle said in a statement.
“Brokered by the United States, the agreement was one of our country’s great foreign policy achievements of the 20th century. This ongoing peace process requires the United States’ continued engagement, particularly as Brexit becomes a reality. We cannot stand by idly and watch the Good Friday Agreement weaken or destroyed.”
In January of this year, following debate on Brexit and a potential hard border on the island of Ireland, Congressman Boyle introduced House Resolution 88.
This bill expressed the sense of the House that it opposed any re-establishment of a hard borer between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In April, Boyle traveled with a congressional delegation led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to both Ireland and the UK.
They traveled to both countries, said a release from Boyle’s office, “to deliver a clear and unambiguous message: It is vital that whatever Brexit deal ultimately passes the UK Parliament does not harm the Good Friday Agreement.”
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) also expressed his support for H. Res. 585.
In a statement Pascrell said: “The signing of the Good Friday Agreement remains one of the most significant monuments for peace in world history.
“Congress is calling on our Irish, United Kingdom, and European Union partners to work to together so that lasting peace in Northern Ireland is preserved at all costs and the rights of self-determination all the Irish people remain sacrosanct.
“Today’s resolution shows there is no appetite to ignore or chip away at the Good Friday Agreement during the unease of Brexit. We have come a long way and cannot be allowed to ever turn our backs to peace.”