Joint UK-Irish effort needed
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.