North Secretary Richard Heaton-Harris.

Congress Members Await Response

Two members of congress have penned a letter to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Richard Heaton-Harris expressing their concern over the British government's legacy bill for Northern Ireland.

And now they are awaiting a response.

Congressman William Keating, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Europe, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on National Intelligence, expressed both praise and concerns in the letter. 

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The two, Democrat Keating from Massachusetts, and Republican Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania, jointly state: "Thank you for your continued work furthering the peace established by the Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago, an agreement that holds bi-partisan support here in Congress.

"As President Biden underscored during his trip to the region last month, the United States feels an obligation to support continued efforts to implement this historic agreement and, as such, we were very pleased that negotiations led to the signing of the Windsor Framework. We believe this framework prioritizes stability and peace for the people of Northern Ireland and is in the best interest of all people in the region. 

"Unfortunately, we continue to remain gravely concerned by the proposed Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. We have heard from parties across communities in Northern Ireland that this bill would deny justice to victims of the Troubles and conceal the truth of the past.

"As such, we are disappointed by the decision to appoint a Chief Commissioner to the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), even before the Legacy and Reconciliation Bill has been enacted into UK law. We believe such an appointment is premature, unproductive, and threatens the fragile peace established by the Good Friday Agreement. 

"Secretary of State, the celebrations and commemorations which took place last month surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the recent negotiation of the Windsor Framework, and the immense potential for economic growth in Northern Ireland are indicative of the progress that has been made to ensure continued peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

"As representatives of the United States, which was instrumental in helping to forge the GFA and has supported its implementation for the last 25 years, we urge you to prioritize justice and accountability for victims of the Troubles and refrain from actions, such as this, that threaten cross-community support for the Good Friday Agreement."