A delegation of nearly 200 US politicians from the American Irish State Legislators Caucus visited Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Thursday, August 24.

The bipartisan Caucus aims to "foster and strengthen the longstanding relationship that exists between the United States of America and Ireland to the mutual advantage of both countries."

The visit, which featured a panel discussion with representatives from Northern Ireland's major political parties, occurred despite the Northern Ireland Assembly not functioning since February 2022 when the DUP withdrew as a matter of protest over Brexit's Northern Ireland Protocol and later the Windsor Framework.

On Thursday, the delegation, some of which were in Dublin on Wednesday, was welcomed to Stormont by Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“This is about people throughout the United States learning, discussing, talking to people here, learning for themselves the way things are happening," Maskey told the press ahead of the panel discussion inside Stormont.

He said it was "very, very much focused on, on an ongoing basis, supporting the Good Friday Agreement and building good and positive, constructive relations between Ireland and the USA."

He continued: “We have all, all the parties here, have all been very forthright in saying that one of the most important allies that we have had, particularly through our peace process, has been the United States."

Maskey said Thursday's gathering was "the biggest reflection" of the US support "probably to date."

He added: “In these unusual, probably difficult enough times, in terms of the politics here that we’re experiencing and enduring, to have this delegation here is, in my opinion, a very strong vote of confidence from our colleagues throughout the United States of America.”

Maskey was flanked by AISLC co-chairs Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, and Shannon O'Brien, a member of the Montana State Senate, when addressing the press at Stormont on Thursday.

O'Brien, who said it was "delightful" to be in Belfast, told the press: “We’re very much looking forward to listening, and learning, to find out more about the Good Friday Agreement and how to keep peace. We have lots of lessons to learn.”

Vos said: “We are here now to remind everybody that the strong relationship between Ireland and the United States is unbreakable.

“What we are here today, also, is to make sure that everybody understands that, as Americans, we need to learn more, we need to understand all of what’s happened in Ireland’s history, but we also need to make sure that we are steady, reliable partners going forward.”

Today’s visit is a clear vote of confidence by our US friends in our ability to succeed and surpass our current political impasse. https://t.co/RBctw3dnRX

— Alex Maskey (@AlexMaskeySF) August 24, 2023

The delegation gathered inside Stormont to hear a panel discussion from Steve Aiken of the Ulster Unionist Party, Matthew O’Toole of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Kellie Armstrong of the Alliance Party, Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin, and Emma Little-Pengelly of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Commenting on the Stormont stalemate, O'Toole told the delegation: "It's great that you're here, but of course, the rest of us should be here."

Aiken said: "There are tremendous opportunities out there and we need to be in the place to do that. And I would like your good offices to help us make that happen."

Later in the day, the US delegation heard from investors and officials regarding the economic situation in Northern Ireland.

The AISLC's visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland comes just days after the US National Conference of State Legislators, where TD Seán Fleming, Ireland's Minister for International Development and Diaspora delivered the opening address.

Fleming, the first Irish Government Minister to speak at this summit, attended the AGM of the American Irish State Legislators Caucus during the conference.

This week the Minister for International Development and Diaspora, Seán Fleming 🇮🇪, delivered the opening address to the National Conference of State Legislators in Indianapolis, Indiana on his trip to the United States of America 🇺🇸.


👉 https://t.co/SFFR0UNPof pic.twitter.com/SOJIcGCOKi

— Irish Foreign Ministry (@dfatirl) August 18, 2023

Following the AISLC's annual meeting, the group's nine co-chairs, including Irish Senator Mark Daly, were re-elected, while Senator Wayne Harper and State Representative Bridget Walsh Moore were named new co-chairs.

The AISLC's visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland this week coincides with a bipartisan US congressional delegation, led by Senator Chris Murphy, in London and Dublin.

The delegation, Senator Murphy's office said, was set to "discuss securing peace in Northern Ireland, the war in Ukraine, strategic implications of AUKUS, and transatlantic coordination on competition with China."