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Not worth the paper it's not written on

A Letter from Ireland

a Chara,

Greetings from the road, train, and plane. This week I’m in Washington, New York, Albany, and Chicago to discuss political developments in Ireland, to remember the 1981 Hunger Strikes, and to look to the future of a new, united Ireland.

The backdrop to the trip has been the US elections and the British Government's continued refusal to honor their agreements and respect international law.

I have to admit to being an election nerd. It goes with the job. and I am not alone. Across Ireland, people were becoming experts on vote distribution in Maricopa County. In Washington, not surprisingly, all talk was about the still uncertain outcome. In meetings with staff and representatives there were many views on the different permutations and possible outcomes for the next Congressional session.

There was an agreement on two things: the importance of voting, and that the bipartisan approach would continue. This was underscored by Rep. Fitzpatrick sharing an online platform with Rep. Keating at a conference based in Dublin that was committed to continuing the bipartisan support for the Good Friday Agreement. Both representatives are friends of Ireland, our peace agreement, and the rights of victims of the conflict to truth and justice.

In Bali, at the G20 meeting of world leaders, President Biden met with the latest British Prime Minister, his third since coming to office. They discussed the pressing global issues of the day. Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement were on the President’s agenda. A spokesperson for the British Prime Minister, speaking about the refusal of the government to honor their agreement with the EU said, “The prime minister did refer to that anniversary next year and ensuring that we get a negotiated settlement that protects the Good Friday agreement by then”.

It would appear that the British Government has given a verbal commitment to resolve the issue by April 2023. I was always told that a verbal agreement isn’t worth the papers it’s not written on. This is especially true for Perfidious Albion which believes that it is not bound by international law, never mind agreements.

While the tone of the British Government’s engagements has changed, this has not been matched by their actions. They continue to press ahead with their bill to unilaterally rewrite their agreement with the EU on Brexit while claiming to want a negotiated resolution. A second Bill threatens to end all judicial investigations into their past action during the conflict and to block victims from access to the courts. The words of the British Government do not match their deeds. Time will tell if they will make good on their promises.

The US and the international community have a vital role to play in holding the British Government to account. The international rule of law must be respected and agreements implemented. Refusal to do so undermines the international order, the primacy of politics, and our peace agreements.

Enjoy your weekend and I hope we meet along the road.

Is mise,


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.

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