The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) welcomed today’s [09/26/2017] statement from President Trump expressing his commitment to retain the position of U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. In making this decision, countermanding the earlier intentions of the State Department to eliminate this post, President Trump has reaffirmed America’s leadership in the cause of peace and justice in Northern Ireland. The AOH also expresses their profound gratitude to Congressman Richard Neal and the members of the Friends of Ireland caucus for espousing the continuing need for a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland and working to ensure America’s Good Friday Agreement legacy of leadership is not squandered for a de minimis cost saving of $50,000.
The Hibernians now ask President Trump to quickly appoint and empower a Special Envoy that can finish the job started by the first Special Envoy George Mitchell nearly twenty years ago. While there has been relative peace in the two decades since the agreement was signed, it is a fragile peace built on the shaky foundation of an agreement incompletely implemented. Two decades on from the Good Friday Agreement, the legacies of the past have yet to have been addressed with justice and there is still no Bill of Rights for the community of Northern Ireland. The recent call by a Northern Irish resident’s association that a new housing development be “filled up with people from the loyalist/unionist community” shows that the bright promise of parity of esteem expressed in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement appears to be retrogressing to the prejudices of 1969.
The fact that the devolve Northern Irish parliament is currently in collapse, that Brexit threatens to disproportionately impact a fragile Northern Irish economy and repartition the isle of Ireland with borders both physical and psychological all point to the need to cement the foundations of peace in Northern Ireland by fully delivering on the commitments of the Good Friday Agreement. The recent “confidence and supply” agreement struck by the British Government and Northern Ireland’s DUP strains the limits of credulity that the British Government can address the challenges of fully implementing the Good Friday Agreement with the “rigorous impartiality” the agreement calls for; a U.S. Special Envoy is needed to restore balance and credibility to the peace process.
President Trump, who takes pride in “the art of the deal”, must now move expeditiously to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland who can close the deal for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland built on the foundations of justice and parity of esteem.