Joint UK-Ir­ish ef­fort needed

Irish Examiner - - Opinion -

THE pro­posal by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to abol­ish the po­si­tion of US spe­cial en­voy to North­ern Ire­land must be coun­tered by both the Ir­ish and Bri­tish gov­ern­ments.

Sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son pro­posed the move on Mon­day in a let­ter to sen­a­tor Bob Corker, chair­man of the US se­nate com­mit­tee on for­eign re­la­tions.

There al­ready is no nom­i­nee for Amer­i­can am­bas­sador to Ire­land, mean­ing there is no US diplo­matic pres­ence here now — that, also, must be ad­dressed.

If no­body in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has a heart­string to tug, per­haps they might be per­suaded by num­bers. The US has in­vested heav­ily in Ire­land but our eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship is a two-way street, with Ir­ish com­pa­nies in­vest­ing in the US as well as Amer­i­can com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing here.

Ire­land’s to­tal in­vest­ment in the US reached a record $26.2bn in 2013 and is now ap­proach­ing €30bn, spurred in re­cent years by the for­mer US am­bas­sador, Kevin O’Mal­ley. Equally, a peace­ful North­ern Ire­land is not just good for so­ci­ety but for the econ­omy.

Sen­a­tor George Mitchell used the role of spe­cial en­voy to chair the talks that led to the Good Fri­day agree­ment. With­out him, peace would not have hap­pened.

We can­not as­sume that peace will con­tinue, par­tic­u­larly in light of Brexit. A joint UK-Ir­ish ef­fort is needed ur­gently to en­sure that US in­ter­est in the North does not wane.

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