Why the appointment of a US special envoy to Northern Ireland is essential
The peace process is like a bicycle; keep your foot on the pedal and walk forward or fall. Not my words, but those of the late Martin McGuinness.
A generation in Ireland grew up in peace. For this, we are grateful but must remain vigilant. To take peace and progress for granted is to let go. To give in to those who seek to slow down progress is to stop moving forward.
The peace process, the Good Friday agreement and everything that came with it was a success in American foreign policy. It is a credit to Irish America’s commitment and commitment and the actions of American political leaders.
Peacebuilding is not a one-off event. It is a process aimed at redressing decades of violence, affirming democratic and peaceful methods over conflict. It is at the heart of the process of managing change and resolving political disputes.
Ireland and the United States are partners in peace. A partnership that has lasted. A sustained partnership on the common values of peace, democracy, equality, reconciliation and the primacy of politics over the threat of violence.
A constantly renewed partnership to meet the challenges of the day.
This is why the appointment of an American special envoy is crucial. It is a signal of intent that the agreements and progress in Ireland are important to the United States. It gives the United States a seat at the table.
It has been suggested that twenty-three years after the agreement, the parties and the two governments should be able to resolve their issues without the United States. Unfortunately, part of the trade union movement and the British government did not support the full implementation of the agreements. Some refuse to recognize and embrace change and seek to block democratic progress.
The Good Friday Agreement is under constant threat from unionist and paramilitary parties which have yet to accept the loss of their guaranteed majority and from a British government of British nationalists which appears to be at war with reality, truth and l ‘EU.
The crisis of unionism has divided the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with an acrimonious leadership race. The crisis emboldened Unionist paramilitaries under the aegis of the Loyalist Community Council. These groups remain active, armed and involved in crime. They were rejected at the polls and abandoned the Good Friday Agreement.
They now receive a platform from the British government and some Unionist political leaders. Fueled by this, they call for the sacking of Irish government ministers, attack the European Commission and threaten a summer of unrest.
The Orange Card is recklessly put into play. Giving in to threats of violence is a fundamental attack on the peace process.
The DUP will need the support of Sinn Féin if it wants to appoint a new prime minister in the Northern Executive. However, they have so far refused to provide a timeline for the passage of the agreed Irish Language Act. They also did not attend the North-South Ministerial Council meetings. A mandatory obligation for ministers and part of the ex officio hiring of a new prime minister.
All this runs the risk that the crisis of trade unionism becomes a crisis of the political process.
We have a British government which does not consider itself bound by agreements or by international law. A government of English nationalists which acts out of narrow self-interest with the main objective of covering the actions of its military during the conflict.
A government that has been exposed in Ireland and the EU as a dishonest partner.
The British government is playing quickly and freely with the agreements and has given up all authority to hold unionism to account.
It is a government that needs allies and business partners. Congress has made it clear that sticking to its deal in Ireland will cost money in building a future relationship with the United States.
There are immediate threats to the functioning of institutions and to the management of the long-term change process.
The North is changing. Union with Great Britain and the border is not permanent. It is in the gift of democracy to unite the island and its inhabitants.
Change can be managed or chaotic. What we are seeing now is the chaotic emergence of a society in transition.
Now is the time to renew the American and Irish partnership for peace. To protect the agreements, the democratic principle and the political process.
Irish Americans and leading members of Congress supported the call for a presidential special envoy. This is supported by the Irish government and Sinn Féin.
The United States has a role to play in securing peace and progress. America has played an important and leading role in backing up and protecting the Brexit deals.
The administration making public its intention to appoint an emissary would have an immediate impact. This creates a new dynamic with the potential to prevent current problems from becoming a crisis.
The appointment of a presidential envoy would help manage the process of democratic change by forcing the UK government to live up to its obligations and consistently asserting the primacy of politics over the threat of violence.
It’s all of us to keep the bike upright and move forward. The time has come for the administration to renew our partnership for peace.
* Ciaran Quinn is the American representative of Sinn Féin.