Conor Murphy

North Secretary Urged to Listen on U.S. Trip

Sinn Féin has called on the British Secretary of State to listen to the voices of leading U.S. figures on key issues of the Protocol and legacy during his visit to the United States this week. 

Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris is visiting Washington. D.C., Boston and New York and will be meeting with Irish American leaders. His visit concludes FRiday.

Former Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy was speaking ahead of the five day Heaton-Harris visit during which he will meet business and community leaders and politicians, including the new U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III.

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At the weekend, 27 members of the U.S. Congress wrote to the British Prime Minister expressing their concern at the British government’s Legacy Bill that is going through parliament, and which has been denounced by critics as offering an amnesty for those accused of Troubles-related killings. The bill has been criticized by all political parties in Ireland.

“The U.S. administration has been steadfast in its support for the Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement and ensuring people in the north and our economy is fully protected,” said Mr. Murphy.

“It has affirmed its support with the appointment of Special Envoy Joe Kennedy and it’s critical that Chris Heaton-Harris works with him and the parties to restore power-sharing and to use the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement as a platform to our economic benefit. 

“The U.S. has also been very clear in its strong opposition to the British government’s flawed Legacy Bill and its negative implications for victims and families and their right to truth and justice. That was reaffirmed in a letter to Rishi Sunak last week.

“Chris Heaton-Harris must heed the voices of senior figures in the U.S., and right across Europe, urging his government to scrap the Legacy Bill and to continue working in good faith with the EU to find durable and pragmatic solutions on the Protocol.”

Mr. Murphy said businesses in the North and the economy need certainty and stability “to continue benefitting from the unique opportunities afforded by the Protocol to create jobs and attract investment."

“He (Heaton-Harris) has a responsibility to ensure workers get a fair pay rise, invest in our health and public services and to strengthen the Rates Support Grant available to local councils to keep costs down for households. 

“There is no time to waste. People need an Executive formed now to deliver for them. They need clarity from Chris Heaton-Harris on what, if anything, he has done to restore the Assembly and Executive. He should spell that out to U.S. leaders during his visit.”