Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and Irish America have welcomed the news that the US will retain an Irish peace envoy - weeks after the State Department said they planned on axing the role.
The State Department is looking to cut $37.6 billion (30%) from its budget and ending the envoy to Ireland was one measure outlined.
Bloomberg Politics wrote at the time that, “the representative for Northern Ireland issues [is] a position seen as increasingly unnecessary since the Good Friday agreement was implemented in 1998.”
The backlash from Irish America was swift however, with the Ancient Order of Hibernians insisting that the move, “highlights a glaring, across-the-board U.S. disconnect from current events on the ground in Northern Ireland and the status of the peace process.”
A bipartisan letter from 32 Congressmen and women was quickly dispatched to Secretary Tillerson.
Now the President has told Congressman Richard Neal, co-chair of the Friends of Ireland, that he will in fact fill the $50,000 a year position.
Welcoming the news, the Congressman said, “America must continue to play a meaningful role in the peace process. With the political institutions in the North suspended, the United States should have a dedicated representative to help prevent further political instability. I also believe we can make an important contribution to the Brexit debate and its implications on the island of Ireland.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was also fulsome in his praise for the President’s decision.
“Over the last 25 years the US and its succession of Special Envoys have made an important contribution to the peace process. An Envoy can play an important role in ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement is fully implemented and in helping to chart a course through the difficulties that will increase as a result of Brexit.”
No date, or candidate, has yet been agreed upon and Neil Cosgrove from the Ancient Order of Hibernians said the group was keen that one be appointed quickly.
“President Trump, who takes pride in “the art of the deal”, must now move expeditiously to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland who can close the deal for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland built on the foundations of justice and parity of esteem.”
Northern Ireland’s Assembly was suspended early this year and no agreement between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party has yet been concluded that would see a return to power sharing.