Standing by Agreements
A Letter from Ireland
a Chara, This week the US came to Ireland. Derek Chollet, Counselor of the Department of State, visited Belfast and First Minister (elect) Michelle O’Neill. The two had met in July in Washington. The visit by one of the highest-ranking members of the State Department, at a time of war in Europe, an energy crisis, and rising tension across the globe, is an indication of the importance of Ireland to the US Administration.
The US position has been articulated by President Biden directly to Boris Johnson. No unilateral actions, find agreement, no hardening of the Border across Ireland, and protect the Good Friday Agreement. The President has raised the issue directly with Liz Truss, the new British Prime Minister, twice in the past four weeks. The visit by Mr. Chollet occurred the same week the British Government continued to push its Brexit Protocol Bill through the House of Lords. The Bill would grant British Ministers the power to override international laws and binding agreements. It has no standing in international law. The continuance of the Bill comes at a time when the British Government is making more positive noises to the EU about finding a negotiated way forward to implement the agreed Protocol. It is hard to reconcile the words of negotiation and agreement with the push for this legislation. It is as if you had agreed on the price of a car and when you go to pick it up, the seller wants to renegotiate and reserve the right to impose the price. Most would walk away from that process and leave the car in the forecourt. The EU has demonstrated great patience with the British and stretched itself to resolve the issues around the implementation of the Protocol. It remains to be seen if the British match their tone with the necessary flexibility to find an agreement. The response of the DUP to the US Administration was dismissive, patronizing, and partisan. The DUP has always opposed the agreement. They now demand that the British Government break international law. Threatening that any visit by a US president next year will be to the funeral of the Good Friday Agreement if they do not get their way! At least they are consistent. They have always opposed the involvement of the US administration from the early days of the peace process. The US has skin in the game. The Good Friday Agreement is a US foreign policy success. The US is reminding the British Government of its international obligations. It is not partisan to expect the British to honor their agreement and respect the law. Opposition to the duplicitous approach by the British Government and outrageous demands of the DUP is not taking sides. It is standing up for rules that we all embrace and are the basis for democratic and political progress. Have a great weekend,
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.