US Congress to vote on support for Good Friday Agreement

House of Representatives resolution will seek to protect NI peace process post-Brexit

Members of the ad-hoc committee to protect the Good Friday Agreement called on members from both political parties to support the resolution.

Members of the ad-hoc committee to protect the Good Friday Agreement called on members from both political parties to support the resolution.

 

The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on a resolution outlining support for the Good Friday Agreement as early as Tuesday, as interest in the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland continues in Congress.

With Congress due to return to Washington this week after the Thanksgiving break, a resolution on the Good Friday Agreement – which also warns that a trade deal between between the United States and Britain could be in jeopardy if the principles of the peace process are undermined – will be tabled this week.

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by New York Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Peter King, “urges the United Kingdom and the European Union to ensure that any exit from the European Union by the United Kingdom supports continued peace on the island of Ireland and the principles, objectives, and commitments of the Good Friday Agreement”.

Obligations

It also states that the House of Representatives “will insist that any new or amended trade agreements and other bilateral agreements between the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Kingdom include conditions requiring obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to be met.”

Mr King, a long-time supporter of Ireland on Capitol Hill announced recently he would not run in next year’s election.

Last month, members of the ad-hoc committee to protect the Good Friday Agreement called on members from both political parties to support the resolution.

“The United States played a major role in ending the Troubles,” wrote former congressman Bruce Morrison and Jim Walsh sent to all 435 members of the House of Representatives. “Now twenty years later the Good Friday Agreement is at risk.”

The letter states that Brexit has “put in jeopardy two core principles that go to the heart of the Good Friday Agreement.” This includes the rights of any citizen in Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish, British or both, and the demilitarisation of the Border on the island which by “creating an open border an all-Ireland economy might encourage greater prosperity and cross-community understanding especially in the communities most hard hit by the Troubles”.

Emma DeSouza

The letter also cites the recent case taken by Emma De Souza which ruled that the Derry resident was a British citizen because she was born in Northern Ireland.

“The fact that the Home Office is challenging the very constitutional nature of the GFA twenty years after its signing deeply concerns us,” it states.

While it says the withdrawal agreement agreed last month between the European Union and Britain “looks very promising for Northern Ireland,” it notes the divisions within British politics as it awaits a general election on December 12th.

“In this time of great uncertainty we believe that it is very important for the United States to reaffirm its support for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland. We encourage you to co-sponsor House Res. 585 and to vote for the resolution when it comes to the House floor for a final vote.”