New York GOP Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security and a long-time champion supporter of Irish causes on Capitol Hill, has written a letter to
Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas, the GOP chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, urging the re-instatement of U.S. funds for the International Fund for Ireland.
Earlier this year the House and Senate voted to rescind the annual U.S. contribution to the fund, which for the coming year would have totaled more than $17 million.
Continuing U.S. support of the fund has been a source of controversy for some time – among those against providing further assistance is Trina Vargo, head of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, who is seeking to secure the U.S. IFI money for her Mitchell Scholarship program -- but King feels the IFI is still a valued tool in helping to secure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.
“For many years, the United States has been at the forefront of promoting peace in Northern Ireland. We urge you to continue this effort by supporting $17 million for the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) in (fiscal year) 2012,” King’s letter, released on Tuesday, stated.
“The United States has demonstrated its commitment to peace in Northern Ireland through high-level negotiations, diplomacy and grassroots peace-building efforts. Some of this work has resulted in high-profile achievements, such as the Belfast (Good Friday) and Hillsborough Castle Agreements. While we are proud of the advancements, there is still much work to be done.”
King also pointed out that though the peace process is thriving, dissidents intent on causing trouble still exist.
“Recently, an increase in violence has shown that the wounds of war have not healed. Dissidents have been targeting police officers and community courthouses following the devolution of the policing and justice systems in the North achieved through the historic Hillsborough Agreement,” King said.