The Ancient Order of Hibernians, America’s largest Irish American Organization, has written to members of the congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus expressing their concern that Prime Minister Johnson’s government will use the post U.S. election transition as a distraction for a hard Brexit. In a letter from Political Action Chair Neil Cosgrove, the Hibernians state:
“The Hibernians are very concerned that at this time when our nation demonstrates the strength of our democracy by the peaceful transition to a new administration, that a lack of focus on Brexit may result in irrevocable harm to the American brokered Good Friday Agreement and the two decades of peace it has brought to the north of Ireland.
The Hibernians are troubled by the British government’s consistent failure to abide by its commitments under international law. The Good Friday Agreement predates Brexit by two decades. It is for the British government to make Brexit work in the context of the Good Friday Agreement they signed, not the other way around. The world was led to believe that the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit’s disparities had been resolved last year when Britain signed the internationally recognized Withdrawal Agreement, which included the “Irish Protocol” to preserve the open border in Ireland, a bedrock of the peace process.
However, the Internal Market bill currently before the British parliament shows once again the UK’s casual attitude to the agreements it signs. The Hibernians are specifically troubled that no less a person than Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis characterized the Internal Market bill as “breaking the law in limited and specific ways.” Such a flippant statement is an insult to any person who respects accountability, the rule of law, and the English language. The Internal Market bill has been condemned across the spectrum of the UK and Ireland, including former Prime Ministers May, Major and Blair, the House of Lords and the Law Society and Bar Council of England and Wales.
The Hibernians are concerned that the British government intends to use the transition in the wake of the US elections as a smokescreen to cover the collapse of negotiations and maneuver the EU and WTO into physically erecting the actual border. The Hibernians believe that Prime Minister Johnson thinks that the US and the world can be deceived by the misdirection of blaming the EU/WTO for a Brexit border in Ireland rather than seeing this as a reaction to UK actions for which the UK alone has accountability.
While the Hibernians appreciate that this is a time of transition and flux in Washington, we respectfully ask the members of the Friends of Ireland Caucus to issue a joint letter to UK Ambassador Pierce stating that the US will not be taken in by cynical political legerdemain; that the United Kingdom will be held entirely and solely accountable for any border arising out of Brexit irrespective of who constructs it.”