McDonald Backs U.S. Special Envoy Appointment

Mary Lou McDonald. RollingNews.ie photo

By Anthony Neeson

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has thrown her support behind the growing calls for President Joe Biden to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

And Congressman Brendan Boyle has spoken on the importance of a knowledgeable envoy during the annual Pat Finucane lecture.

Backed by the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish Echo, a petition pushing for the appointment has already won support from some of the most influential figures in Irish America.

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The leader of the Opposition in the Dáil said the U.S. “has long stood on the side of peace and the primacy of politics to resolve conflict in Ireland."

She added: "The Good Friday Agreement was made possible by the active involvement of President Bill Clinton and the actions of Special Envoy Senator George Mitchell.

"Successive U.S. administrations have acted as guarantors of our agreements and have appointed special envoys to the North. Over the past number of years, the U.S. has had to act to protect the Good Friday Agreement during the Brexit process.

"Our agreements continue to face significant challenges as a result of the actions of a British government that plays fast and loose with international laws and treaties.”

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McDonald said that the outworkings of the Brexit process “remains a threat to the Good Friday Agreement."

"The appointment of a Special Envoy is a crucial element in protecting our agreements and realizing their transformative power for this and future generations.”

And during the annual Pat Finucane Lecture, Congressman Brendan Boyle said it was crucial for the U.S. to apply pressure on the British government over human rights abuses, and insisted that the vacant post of U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland must be filled by someone who understands the legacy issues from the Troubles.

“We do know, or this is my opinion at least, that if you don’t have an external actor from the United States pushing along the British side, frankly you are very unlikely to get much progress, especially, candidly, out of a Conservative government that considers itself a Conservative and Unionist government,” he said.

“The importance of the American dimension remains, and I think that the role of Special Envoy would be critical here, to be on the ground constantly raising these legacy issues.”