The US House of Representatives has backed a resolution outlining support for the Good Friday Agreement as US support for Ireland in the face of Brexit continues to grow.
The resolution on the Good Friday Agreement also warns that a trade deal between the United States and Britain could be in jeopardy if the principles of the peace process are undermined.
The bipartisan 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”.
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.”
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 the north of Ireland to choose to be Irish, British or both, and the demilitarisation of the border on the island.
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 the north of 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.
Speaking following the passing of the resolution, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD welcomed the advance.
“Over the past twenty-five years, United States Presidents and political leaders have been central to the Irish Peace process and the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.
“That special relationship endures and crosses party political lines. A future trade deal between the US and Britain post Brexit is the responsibility of the US Congress.
“Today the congress passed a resolution to oppose a hard border on the island of Ireland and supported the right to national self-determination in line with provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“The Congress also insisted that any new trade deal with Britain must be contingent on meeting the obligations of the Good Friday Agreement including the continued incorporation into law of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
She thanked Congressmen Suozzi and King for their sponsorship, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Richard Neal. She concluded: “This resolution gives Rep. Richard Neal, the Chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee a clear bipartisan mandate to continue his policy of ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in all it’s parts, in any trade agreement between the US and Britain.”