Congressman Richard Neal
By Irish Echo Staff
The meeting between President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall resulted in a detailed joint statement.
The final section of the joint statement was headed “Commitment to Northern Ireland.”
It stated: “Northern Ireland has taken huge strides forward since its courageous leaders put reconciliation and progress before violence and division 23 years ago.
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“We are proud of the achievements of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and we remain fully committed to its three strand approach, that: established the democratic institutions in Northern Ireland; provided for consultation, co-operation and action across the island of Ireland; and created structures for British-Irish engagement. It took a deep partnership between the U.K., Ireland, and the U.S. to support the people of Northern Ireland in bringing the Troubles to an end, and it will take a continued and ongoing partnership to advance and safeguard Northern Ireland’s stability and prosperity into the future.
Today, the U.K. and U.S. reaffirm their commitment to working closely with all parties to the Agreement to protect its delicate balance and realise its vision for reconciliation, consent, equality, respect for rights, and parity of esteem. Unlocking Northern Ireland’s tremendous potential is a vital part of safeguarding the stability created by the Agreement, and the U.K. and the U.S. will continue working together towards that shared goal.”
The language of the lines devoted to Northern Ireland were less headline making than some that had been aired prior to the Biden/Johnson meeting, inspired as they were by tension between the European Union and United Kingdom over the post-Brexit Irish Sea Protocol.
The lines contained in a statement by Congressman Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Co-Chair of the Friends of Ireland in Congress were more urgent in tone.
Said Neal: “President Biden’s bilateral meeting in Cornwall today with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is timely and important particularly regarding the impasse between the United Kingdom and the European Union over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“I strongly support the Biden Administration’s efforts to encourage both the UK and the EU to continue to their talks in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement to post-Brexit trade rules that do not undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
“As a co-guarantor of the that historic accord, the United States has a particular interest in protecting the pact that helped transform the island of Ireland. Nearly 25 years after the people of Ireland, north and south, voted overwhelmingly to support the peace deal in an unprecedented referendum, there can be no disruption to the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is a template for successful conflict resolution around the globe. President Biden has been consistent and outspoken on this issue and is correct to suggest that UK Brexit negotiator David Frost and EU Commissioner Marcos Sefcovic need to continue their diplomatic discussions to find common ground on the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Unilateral decisions and actions are not helpful to the process going forward.”