US politicians demand Joe Biden appoints special envoy to Northern Ireland

A group of senior US politicians has written to President Joe Biden urging him to appoint a special envoy to Northern Ireland.

he position remains unfilled since the departure of Mick Mulvaney, who was former president Donald Trump’s appointee.

Previous envoys include George Mitchell, Richard Haass and Gary Hart.

A letter, signed by Bill Keating who chairs the US Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe Subcommittee, and 34 other bipartisan members of Congress, said an appointment is needed urgently.

It warns that the peace and stability brought about by the Good Friday Agreement is under threat.

The states: “As we approach 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, we strongly urge you to appoint a US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.

“Recent turmoil in Northern Ireland and the stalemate in re-establishing Northern Ireland’s devolved government following its May elections continues to threaten the peace and stability brought about by the Good Friday Agreement.”

The letter refers to the “powerful role” the US has played in ensuring peace and maintaining stability in Northern Ireland.

It adds: “It is clear that US leadership and investment in Northern Ireland is both valued and appreciated as well as helpful in facilitating peace and reconciliation.

“Bearing these facts in mind, the appointment of a special envoy will undoubtedly facilitate further peace and continues the longstanding commitment from the US to peace on the island.”

The letter claims that key principles underlying the Good Friday Agreement face “dire, targeted threats” from the UK government’s controversial moves to tear up the NI Protocol and its attempts to deal with legacy.

The letter adds: “These measures undermine international law, threaten to create a trade war between the European Union and the United Kingdom (Protocol Legislation), and risk almost 25 years of progress resulting from the Good Friday Agreement.

“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 in on the island of Ireland, to appoint a Special Envoy to continue the historical role of the US in facilitating compromise and negotiations in Northern Ireland and to ensure peace and stability remain in Northern Ireland.”

A second letter, signed by Mr Keating and 30 other Congress members and sent to House of Lords Speaker Lord McFall, attacks the Government’s plans on legacy.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill has been widely criticised amid claims it would provide an amnesty to those who carried out crimes during the Troubles.

The legislation has passed the House of Commons and is currently in its second reading in the Lords.

The letter calls for alternative paths to justice to ensure accountability for victims of violence during the Troubles and their families.

It states: “We urge you and your colleagues in the House of Lords to consider alternative paths to provide real, tangible accountability for victims and their families and implore you to take every measure at your disposal to ensure this legislation does not preclude the delivery of justice and accountability in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Keating said the two letters highlight the US commitment to peace in Northern Ireland

He added: “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 are essential for the peace and stability outlined by the Good Friday Agreement.”

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