SENIOR US politicians have written to President Joe Biden and to the Speaker of the British House of Lords John McFall reiterating their commitment to preserving the Good Friday Agreement.
The letters were issued by Bill Keating, Chairman of the US Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe Subcommittee reports IrishCentral.
The letter to President Biden urges him to fill the currently empty position of Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. The position, seen by many as playing a key role in the peace negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement, is currently unoccupied.
The congressmen consider the position being left vacant as deleterious to the overall political situation in Northern Ireland, particularly as the Northern Ireland Protocol dilemma shows no sign of diminishing.
The last Special Envoy was Mick Mulvaney, former president Donald Trump's appointee. Previous occupiers of the position include George Mitchell, Richard Haass and Gary Hart.
The letter sent to President Biden by the congressmen last week states: "Mr. President, the Good Friday Agreement remains the framework to resolve the issues of today and to ensure peace and prosperity tomorrow.
"We strongly urge you, given your strong, resolute, and personal commitment to peace on the island of Ireland, to appoint a Special Envoy to continue the historical role of the U.S. in facilitating compromise and negotiations in Northern Ireland and to ensure peace and stability remain in Northern Ireland."
The letter to the House of Lords in London, from Chairman Keating and Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Fitzpatrick, co-signed by 30 members of Congress — both Democrat and Republican — expresses disapproval of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill currently in its second reading in the House of Lords. The controversial legislation is aimed at ending Troubles legacy. The bill offers a conditional amnesty to those accused of killings and other Troubles-related crimes.
The US representatives point out that the legislation is opposed by political groups in Northern Ireland from across the political divide, and has been criticised by international human rights organisations as well as lawyers representing victims of the Troubles.
The letter from the US congressmen to the Speaker of the House of Lords puts forward the view: "We believe the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill before the House of Lords threatens the progress achieved by
the Good Friday Agreement and undermines the human rights of all individuals impacted by violence and potential crimes committed during the Troubles.”
IrishCentral reports Chairman Keating saying last week: “These letters highlight the US commitment to peace in Northern Ireland.
"The appointment of a US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland is essential to the US’s role in upholding the Good Friday Agreement and would ensure the US will be able to act as a mediator. Furthermore, the consideration of alternative avenues for justice is essential for the peace and stability outlined by the Good Friday Agreement.”