THE ANCIENT Order of Hibernians has hit out at Vice President Mike Pence and his remarks urging the Irish government to “negotiate in good faith” with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson over Brexit.
At a press conference held as part of his two-day trip to Ireland, Mr Pence said: “As the deadline for Brexit approaches, we urge Ireland and the European Union, as well, to negotiate in good faith with prime minister Johnson, and work to reach an agreement that respects the United Kingdom’s sovereignty.”
Writing in response, Neil Cosgrove, the National Political Education Chair said America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization were “greatly troubled” the Vice President’s comments.
“Respectfully Mr. Vice President, the sovereignty of the Republic of Ireland must be accorded equal respect. As Britain’s only land border with the E.U., the people of Ireland are being asked to bear the consequence of a Brexit where the citizens of the Republic of Ireland had no voice in the matter and which the community of Northern Ireland rejected by 56% at the polls. Self-determination is as much the birthright of the Irish as it is the British or American people. As such, the U.S. stance toward Ireland regarding Brexit should be one of understanding and engagement rather than chiding.
“Your admonition Mr. Vice President appears particularly inapt when it is remembered that in the run-up to the Brexit referendum those who warned of the difficulties in reconciling Brexit with the U.K.’s commitments under the Good Friday Agreement were dismissed as “scaremongers” and “project fear” by people who now hold senior positions in the current British government. There was little “good faith” or “respect” shown during the Brexit campaign as to the collateral consequences of Brexit to the people of Ireland and their sovereignty.
“Now that those warnings have been validated, the British government is trying to rewrite history and reverse accountability for this crisis of its own making. We remind you Mr. Vice President of the “Pottery Barn Rule”: you break it, you own it. Ireland did not create Brexit, Britain did. It is not the duty of Ireland to sacrifice itself to make Britain’s decision to pursue Brexit work. To date, Ireland has shown both considerable good faith and patience with a situation which has been foisted on them while still honoring its sovereign responsibility to protect the peace and prosperity of its citizens.
“We are also concerned with the tepidity in your statement ‘we’ll continue to affirm our belief the Good Friday Agreement needs to be intact.’ As a broker and co-guarantor of one of history’s most significant diplomatic triumphs in the cause of peace, the United States must insist, not simply believe, that the Good Friday Agreement be preserved. Ordinary prudence would dictate against entering into any new deal, trade or otherwise, with a partner who did not honor their previous commitments under internationally recognized treaty.
“As an Irish American, you are likely aware that the United States and the people of Ireland have enjoyed their own “special relationship” which long predates that with Great Britain; extending back to the American Revolution which should also be honored. Respecting the sovereignty of the British people should not come at the cost of sacrificing Ireland to the exigencies of Brexit.”
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is the oldest lay Catholic ethnic organization operating in the United States with over 46,000 members in 46 States, Canada and Ireland.