A sense of opportunity & optimism on US visit
A Letter from Ireland
I have a confession to make: I have a St. Patrick’s hangover. No, it was not self-inflicted or alcohol-related. It’s that coming-down feeling you get when you return to normality.
There are months of preparation that go into the St. Patrick’s trips: flights to make, rooms to book, interviews and meetings to arrange. Last minute changes to be made, and new events to be added. No plan is settled until we are on the ground. I can’t complain. Someone once complained to Rita O’Hare that it was snowing on St. Patrick’s Day, and the sympathetic response was, “You signed up so you have to march”. This is now our mantra.
The trip was a huge success, with pinch-me moments during meetings on the West Wing, on Capitol Hill, and in the State Department. Serious business was done. There was also space for reflection and discussion. Advice was offered, and options were examined. Old friends were met, and new friends were made.
I have been in the US at times of real crisis in our peace process. This was different. The week was marked by a sense of opportunity and optimism. The newly appointed Presidential Envoy, Joe Kennedy III, laid out the potential for significant investment following the EU and British Government deal.
The missing part is a functioning government in Belfast. The DUP continues to play for time and block the re-establishment of government. They have deluded themselves that they still hold leverage in a negotiation that is now concluded. On Tuesday, the EU cleared the way to ratify the deal, and on Wednesday, the British Parliament passed the deal with a massive majority of 515 in favor and 29 opposed. The eight DUP MPs opposed the deal. The EU and British Government will meet on Friday to enact their deal.
The DUP continues to block the Government and turn its back to opportunity at a time of economic crisis.
It is beyond time to call out the DUP. They can block the government at Stormont. The agreement is bigger than Stormont. There is an onus on both governments to realize the rights and entitlements of citizens and move ahead with a Bill of Rights. In the absence of Stormont, the governments can move ahead with the development of North-South bodies and cooperation. New partnership arrangements can and should be brought forward by both governments as agreed at St. Andrews.
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to book your tickets for the Good Friday Agreement event in New York on April 3rd. It will be a night to remember.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.