THE Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi vowed to "protect and defend" the Good Friday Agreement on its 21st anniversary on Friday.
Speaking in Belfast, the top US Democrat underlined American support for the North's peace process as she visited Stormont on the final day of her trip to Ireland.
The California representative led a delegation from Washington on an all-Ireland fact finding visit tour this week. The high-level group of Irish-Americans walked across the border between Derry and Donegal, while top ranking Congressman Richie Neal received an honorary doctorate from Ulster University in the maiden city.
However, Speaker Pelosi described her Belfast visit, the last one on her European trip, as "the highest priority of them all."
"The Good Friday accord is alive and well – just like our commitment to protect it," she told a gathering at the seat of devolved government in Northern Ireland.
"Here is the most important place we could ever be, this Good Friday."
Mrs Pelosi paid tribute to the legacy of President Bill Clinton and Senator George Mitchell, who enabled Ireland to "break free from the past, as they gave people their own tomorrows."
The visit was marked by the US Speaker's determination to stand against the return of a hard Irish border post-Brexit.
Warning that her Congress would veto any US-UK trade deal that could harm the Belfast Agreement, she stressed that Ireland's peace remains the priority on Capitol Hill.
Congressman Neal, head of the influential 'Friends of Ireland' group in Congress, told The Irish Post: "Brexit should offer no threat against one of the most meaningful accomplishments in US diplomacy. Plus, the elimination of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic."
Meanwhile, Brendan Boyle – the son of a Co. Donegal man whose father Frank left the village of Glencolmcille aged 19 – was celebrated throughout the trip as living proof of the success of the Irish diaspora abroad.
The fresh-faced Congressman from Philadelphia accompanied Speaker Pelosi throughout Ireland, and has proudly featured his Irish father regularly in his election commercials and campaign.
Mr Boyle has risen through party ranks to top positions on Capitol Hill and is a Notre Dame University graduate, home of the 'Fighting Irish' football team.