US politicians demand Joe Biden appoint special envoy to Northern Ireland

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

The position remains vacant following the departure of Mick Mulvaney, who was an appointee of former President Donald Trump.

Previous messengers have included George Mitchell, Richard Haas and Gary Hart.

The letter, signed by Bill Keating, who chairs the US Foreign Affairs Committee’s European subcommittee, and 34 other bipartisan members of Congress, said the appointment is urgent.

He warns that the peace and stability established by the Good Friday Agreement is under threat.

It states: “As we approach the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, we urge you to appoint a US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

“The recent unrest in Northern Ireland and the stalemate in the re-establishment of a devolved government in Northern Ireland following the May elections continue to threaten the peace and stability established by the Good Friday Agreement.”

The letter speaks of the “powerful role” the US has played in bringing peace and stability to Northern Ireland.

It adds: “It is clear that US leadership and investment in Northern Ireland is valued and appreciated and helps in promoting peace and reconciliation.

“Given these facts, the appointment of a special envoy will no doubt contribute to further peace and continue the longstanding US commitment to peace on the island.”

The letter argues that the key principles behind the Good Friday Agreement are facing “terrible, targeted threats” from the UK government’s controversial moves to break the NI Protocol and its legacy efforts.

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 jeopardize nearly 25 years of progress resulting from the Good Friday Agreement.

“Mr. President, the Good Friday Agreement remains the basis for solving the problems of today and securing peace and prosperity tomorrow.

“We urge you, given your strong, determined and personal commitment to peace in the island of Ireland, to appoint a special envoy to continue the historic role of the United States in facilitating compromise and negotiations in Northern Ireland and in ensuring that peace and stability is maintained in Northern Ireland.”

The second letter, signed by Mr. Keating and 30 other members of Congress and addressed to Lord McFall, Speaker of the House of Lords, criticizes the government’s heritage plans.

The Northern Ireland Riots (Heritage and Reconciliation) Bill has been widely criticized amid claims it would provide amnesty to those who committed crimes during the riots.

The bill was passed by the House of Commons and is currently on its second reading in the House of Lords.

The letter calls for alternative avenues to justice to hold the victims of the Troubles violence and their families accountable.

It states: “We call on you and your colleagues in the House of Lords to consider alternative ways to ensure real, tangible accountability for victims and their families, and we ask you to take all measures at your disposal to ensure that this law does not prevent the provision of justice and accountability in Northern Ireland”.

Mr. Keating said the two letters underline 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 role in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and ensures that the US can act as an intermediary.

“Furthermore, considering alternative avenues of justice is essential to the peace and stability set out in the Good Friday Agreement.”