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Strabane Border Northern Ireland, 1968 The Strabane Border Post between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the 1960s. Photo ©henrikjon

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Support grows for US House Resolution against Irish Hard Border
More Members of Congress support House Resolution opposing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland

Published on March 11, 2019

As the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement goes to a crucial vote today in the UK Houses of Parliament, more Members of Congress in the US have signed up as co-sponsors to a House of Representatives Resolution opposing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It is speculated that a No Deal Brexit between the UK and the European Union could result in the re-deployment of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Many saw the removal of the border as an important part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process which culminated with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, with controls on the border eventually being removed by 2005.

The two latest Members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill include Congressman Stephen Lynch and Congressman Joseph Kennedy III. Kennedy, the grandson of Bobby Kennedy, was also one of 22 US Members of Congress to sign a letter to the UK Prime Minister yesterday encouraging Theresa May to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The letter, which was sent ahead of Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's visit to Washington as part of the annual US-Ireland St Patrick's Day meetings, said "The consequences of the decisions you will make in the coming days will affect millions of people around the world ... The United States has a keen interest in many of the issues under discussion."

The letter goes on to say that a return to a hard border would "put at risk all that has been achieved since the Good Friday Agreement came into force in 1998" before warning that "Additional initiatives, such as a free trade agreement, may be delayed indefinitely if we are obligated to respond to potential crises on the island. We hope very much that such an outcome can be avoided."

The letter also says that "The United States - our government and people - share a critical interest in the continued success of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace and prosperity it has brought to so many on the island of Ireland. Support for the Republic of Ireland and for a continued peace in Northern Ireland is strong and heartfelt in the US Congress. A continuation of the peaceful border between the two is critical for the future of all the people of both jurisdictions".

The Withdrawal Agreement between the UK Government and the EU is due to be voted on in the House of Commons this evening. If the vote isn't passed, there have been schedules in place for Members of Parliament to vote on the possibility of a No Deal Brexit tomorrow, followed by a potential vote on an extension to the negotiation period with the EU over the Withdrawal Agreement. March 29 is the date on which the UK is currently set to leave the European Union unless an extension is implemented.


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