The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) welcomes the announcement that President Biden has nominated Massachusetts House Majority Leader Claire Cronin to be the United States Ambassador to Ireland. The alacrity in making this nomination shows an appreciation by the administration of the very “special relationship” that the U.S. and Ireland enjoy, a relationship that predates America’s independence. It is a relationship which George Washington paid tribute to when he said “When our friendless standards were first unfurled, who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff, Erin’s generous sons. Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country’smost friendless days.” Ireland is still a close friend to the United States today, allowing over 66,000 US troops to transit through Shannon Airport to the Middle East in 2020 alone.
The importance of the role that Ms. Cronin has been put forward for cannot be overstated, specifically given the turmoil which the United Kingdom’s decision to pursue Brexit has and continues to cause. With its large English-speaking population, Ireland has now become the natural gateway for American business to the European Union, not to mention Ireland in its own right being at the forefront in the key technologies of the 21st century.
More importantly, Ireland has the only land border between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This border was the scene of some of the worst violence during the conflict in Northern Ireland. The creation of an open/demilitarized border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland was one of the most significant and tangible successes of the United States brokered Good Friday Agreement. Today, over 30,000 people from both communities cross that border seamlessly to attend work, school or seek medical treatment in the other community. The post Good Friday Agreement open border in Ireland replaced military blockhouses, spiked roads and barbed wire with bridges of understanding spanning the chasms of distrust. We can not go backwards.
Sadly, we have seen increasing resistance by the United Kingdom to honor the commitments they agreed to under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement including the “Northern Irish Protocol” designed to protect Ireland’s open border. America needs to renew and make clear that the peace of the island of Ireland is a U.S. priority, and that it expects that all parties honor their commitments under both the Good Friday Agreement and the Brexit withdrawal agreement. A strong U.S. presence is key to that end; we are confident that as Ambassador, Ms. Cronin is up to the task.
The Hibernians again congratulate Ms. Cronin and call for her swift confirmation.