The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), the oldest and largest Irish Cataholic organization in the US, continues to press President Biden to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.
“December 7, 2022 marks 700 days that the post of US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland has been empty," the AOH said in a statement today.
“In those 700 days, the United Kingdom has persistently threatened to unilaterally renounce the Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to preserve the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, that it agreed to under the Brexit Withdrawal agreement. The open border in Ireland, which is crossed seamlessly by 30,000 people daily from one community to the other, is one of the most palpable successes of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA); Britain's reneging on this commitment would undermine the GFA at its foundation.
"In those 700 days, the people of Northern Ireland have held a historic election. For the first time, a party representing the nationalist identity has been democratically elected. It is a historic inflection point in the history of Ireland. Yet, the will of the community of Northern Ireland has been thwarted by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose refusal to participate in the peaceful institution of government is a threat to the peace, prosperity, and stability that the Good Friday Agreement has made possible.
"In those 700 days, Britain has pursued legislation to deny the right to truth and justice to the bereaved of the conflict in Northern Ireland by granting an unprecedented amnesty in an attempt to hide the true nature of the actions by Crown forces in Northern Ireland. This amnesty would end investigations, prosecutions, and access to the courts for the victims of the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland, a clear breach of Britain's signed Good Friday Commitments.
"In those 700 days, a bill has been introduced to the British parliament to redefine the criteria established in the Good Friday Agreement for a referendum on Irish unity. Such unilateral 'moving of the goalposts' threatens the credibility of the GFA as being worth the paper it is written on.
"Yet, in those 700 days, the Biden administration has appointed 30 special envoys to other posts, including creating several new ones, while the position of arguably the most successful example of the effectiveness of a Special Envoy remains unfilled at a time when the hallmark product of that position is under serious threat.
"As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the failure to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland by a President who has been very public in expressing pride in his Irish heritage while the Good Friday Agreement is under severe threat is inexplicable. That the office of Northern Ireland Special Envoy and the historic Good Friday Agreement that post made possible should die on the watch of an Irish American President would be an ironic tragedy.
"As America's largest Irish American organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians calls upon the President to reaffirm America's commitment to peace and the Good Friday Agreement by appointing a US Special Envoy before efforts to undermine the agreement and America's legacy become irreparable."
The AOH has been urging President Biden to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland ever since he took office in January 2021. The last Special Envoy to Northern Ireland was Mick Mulvaney, who served from March 2020 until he resigned on January 7, 2021, the day after the riots at the US Capitol.
After Mulvaney's resignation, the AOH called for former Congressman Bruce Morrison to be appointed to the role. The role, however, still remains vacant.