Representative Bill Keating, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe Subcommittee, sent two letters on Friday, August 5 underlining the commitment the US has for the Northern Ireland Peace Process and for upholding the Good Friday Agreement.
The letters, one to US President Joe Biden and one to Speaker of the UK House of Lords John McFall, come three weeks after the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs live-streamed its "Truth and Accountability for Victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland" public briefing.
The first letter, led by Keating and cosigned by 34 bipartisan members of Congress, urges President Biden to appoint a US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.
Despite previous urgings from members of Congress, Biden has yet to fill the position, which was last held by Mick Mulvaney during the Trump administration. Mulvaney resigned the evening of the Capitol riots, January 6, 2021.
The bipartisan letter sent to Biden on Friday states in part: "Mr. President, the Good Friday Agreement remains the framework to resolve the issues of today and to ensure peace and prosperity tomorrow.
"We strongly urge you, given your strong, resolute, and personal commitment to peace on the island of Ireland, to appoint a Special Envoy to continue the historical role of the U.S. in facilitating compromise and negotiations in Northern Ireland and to ensure peace and stability remain in Northern Ireland."
The second letter, co-led by Chairman Keating and Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Fitzpatrick and cosigned by 30 bipartisan members of Congress, expresses disapproval of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, recently introduced in the UK, which the Congress members believe would provide amnesty to scores of individuals who committed potential crimes during the Troubles. The legislation has passed the House of Commons and is currently in its second reading in the House of Lords.
The letter, sent to Members of the House of Lords, calls on these representatives to work with their colleagues to pursue alternative paths to justice and ensure accountability for victims of violence during the Troubles and their families.
The letter notes that the legislation, which can be read online here, is opposed by political groups in Northern Ireland from all sides and concerns have been raised as well by international human rights organizations.
"We believe the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill before the House of Lords threatens the progress achieved by the Good Friday Agreement and undermines the human rights of all individuals impacted by violence and potential crimes committed during the Troubles," the letter to the Speaker of the UK House of Lords says in part.
Chairman Keating said on Friday: “These letters highlight the US commitment to peace in Northern Ireland.
"The appointment of a US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland is essential to the US’s role in upholding the Good Friday Agreement and would ensure the US will be able to act as a mediator. Furthermore, the consideration of alternative avenues for justice is essential for the peace and stability outlined by the Good Friday Agreement.”