Trump will not end Northern Ireland envoy, congressman says

Democrat Richard Neal assured George Mitchell’s former position would be kept

US president Donald Trump and (left) Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, who said the role of US special envoy to Northern Ireland would not be eliminated. Photograph: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

US president Donald Trump and (left) Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, who said the role of US special envoy to Northern Ireland would not be eliminated. Photograph: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

 

US president Donald Trump will not end the position of Northern Ireland special envoy, a congressman said following a meeting on Tuesday.

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson had previously said the move would form part of a global plan to eliminate more than half of such positions.

However Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal said he had received assurances this would not happen.

“At this critical time, I am pleased that President Trump promised not to eliminate the Northern Ireland Special Envoy during our meeting today,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

The claim followed a meeting between Mr Trump and more than a dozen members of the tax-writing committee, including Richard Neal, its top Democrat.

The position of special envoy to Northern Ireland had gone unfilled by the administration which vowed to slash funding to the state department managing the US’s relations with foreign countries and governments.

20th anniversary

In a statement Mr Neal said: “I told President Trump that eliminating the position of special envoy would send a message around the world that the United States is no longer engaged in the region.

“As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, America must continue to play a meaningful role in the peace process,” he said.

The first US special envoy to Northern Ireland, Senator George Mitchell, was appointed in 1995. Successive appointees, including Richard Haass and Gary Hart, have played a central role in maintaining the peace process.