Visit scaled

Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney in Irish visit

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis welcomed U.S. Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, left, to Hillsborough Castle Monday. Photo by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.


By Anthony Neeson

The U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland is in Ireland and Britain this week for a series of meetings intended to “protect and defend” the Good Friday Agreement.

Mick Mulvaney is meeting politicians in Belfast, Dublin and London ahead of a series of crucial Brexit talks between Brussels and London aimed at reaching a trade deal before the October 15 deadline.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Mulvaney said he was ready to offer any help he could to resolve the situation.

There have been claims in recent weeks that the Good Friday Agreement is under threat following the British government’s admission that they would break international law by rolling back on their Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, a deal which ensured that there would be no hard border on the island of island. That agreement essentially moved customs checks to Northern Ireland ports.

The former chief of staff to President TRump was appointed to his envoy role back in March but had been unable to travel to Ireland because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking in Belfast, Mulvaney said he believed the UK and EU could still reach a deal which would be acceptable to both sides.

After speaking with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, Mr. Mulvaney told BBC Northern Ireland: “Generally speaking, politicians and politics do tend to put things off to the last minute but at the end of the day usually they are able to get things that work for everybody.

“Is it clean, is it efficient, does it look good? Probably not, but that’s politics.

“What the attitude of my government is – is that we are confident the EU and UK will be able to work this out in a way that’s acceptable to everybody.”

Addressing the British government’s Internal Market Bill that has thrown the Good Friday Agreement into sharp focus, and which led to Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden warning that he wouldn’t allow Northern Ireland to become a “casualty of Brexit,” Mr. Mulvaney took a different line.

“It only comes into play if something else doesn’t happen. It’s gotten the attention it deserves but I don’t want my country to jump to conclusions. We need to look rationally, calmly and coolly at it.”

Prior to his visit to Belfast, Special Envoy Mulvaney met in Dublin with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Following the meeting, Minister Coveney said: "I was very glad of the opportunity to meet with Special Envoy Mulvaney today. We discussed a number of important issues, including the welcome return to operation of the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland earlier this year, the important work that has now resumed on a North-South basis, and the challenges arising in the context of Covid-19 and of Brexit.

"I emphasized our real concern at the current approach of the UK Government and the vital importance of the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the achievements of the peace process.

"Those achievements were made possible by the sustained engagement of successive U.S. Administrations and Special Envoys, and friends of Ireland across the United States. I appreciate the deep personal commitment that Mick has shown in continuing these vital conversations and contacts which underpin this engagement.

"I look forward to my visit to Washington, D.C. this week where I will continue these conversations with our friends in Congress and in the Administration. I am particularly looking forward to meeting Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Richie Neal, who are valued advocates for the protection of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement."

Minister Coveney is traveling to Washington mid-week.