Danny O’Connell, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, is currently in Ireland where he met Irish government officials including Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, and with legacy victims’ families, including the Springhill Massacre families in Belfast and Bloody Sunday families in Derry Belfast.
As leader of the oldest and largest Irish American organization, he wanted to congratulate and commend the visiting Congressional delegation led by House Ways and Means,and Friends of Ireland Chairman Richie Neal, for their forthright comments on the protocol issue in the face of the somewhat hysterical criticism by the Democratic Unionist Party.
AOH National President Danny O’Connell said:
Chairman Richie Neal and the members of Congress traveling with him have a long –term knowledge and deep seated interest in Irish issues that stands in sharp contrast to most British Secretaries sent to administer the six counties by Westminster. The British government negotiated a comprehensive withdrawal agreement with the European Community. Instead of ironing out any difficulties by mutual agreement in good faith negotiation, the British government seems poised to just discard provisions in the agreement it does not like. At the same time Britain pushes an amnesty bill which discards its Stormont House Agreement and closes down any chances of getting legacy justice for hundreds of families.
Surely, America or any country negotiating an agreement with Britain, must be cautious about negotiations with a government that does not keep its word.
Unionist criticism is particularly ironic. When the north voted against Brexit, Arlene Foster as First Minister lectured that no region within Britain could overrule the wishes of an entire country. The Stormont Assembly vote produced a majority in favor of the Protocol, but she wants a Unionist veto overruling both the wishes of six county voters and the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Britain.
As National President of America’s oldest and largest Irish American organization, the AOH, I want to commend and congratulate Chairman Neal and the other members of the Congressional delegation traveling with him, for speaking much needed hard truths to Britain and Unionists in the debate on the protocol.