IAUC’s concerns regarding Brexit and the IAUC’s commitment to Irish unity
During the week of June 26, IAUC President Peter Kissel, Treasurer Kevin Barry, and New Jersey Chapter President Tom Carney engaged in meetings with the Irish Embassy and various Congressional offices to discuss the IAUC’s concerns regarding Brexit and the IAUC’s commitment to Irish unity.
The IAUC officers met with Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson and members of the Embassy staff to discuss the Irish Government’s views on the status of the border, preserving human rights in Northern Ireland post-Brexit, the implications of the DUP-Tory arrangement, and policies regarding Irish unity. They stressed the IAUC’s support for the Good Friday Agreement and commitment to Irish unity, and explained that the UK government cannot be trusted, given the UK’s history of misdeeds in Northern Ireland and failure to live up to the Good Friday Agreement. Thus, it is urgent that the Irish Government step up pressure on the UK in the wake of Brexit and the DUP-Tory arrangement. Another topic of discussion was the UK’s statements about withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and repealing the Human Rights Act. The Embassy personnel stated that the Irish Government is committed that the border must remain as open as possible, and that human rights must be respected. Ambassador Anderson discussed the importance of including unionists in any conversations regarding Irish unity. She emphasized her concern that harsh rhetoric or demands will likely cause unionists to resist engagement. She advised that we reach out and try to understand and work with those with different views.
The IAUC representatives also met with Congressman Bill Pascrell and the Congressional staffs of Congressmen Josh Gottheimer, Chris Smith, Brendan Boyle, and Richie Neal to discuss the IAUC’s concern with Brexit, particularly the critical need to hold the UK to the Good Friday Agreement and its human rights mandates, and to ask that any trade deals with the UK be conditioned on the UK’s adherence to the GFA’s obligations.
Many IAUC members, including Jack O’Brien, Kathy Kelly, Mike Mellett, Ralph Day, Peter Kissel, and Tom Carney also attended a farewell reception for Ambassador Anderson at the Ambassador’s Residence in Washington on June 28. This event was also attended by many of our friends from the AOH, from Congress, and agency personnel, providing a relaxed forum to further discuss mutual concerns about Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit. Ambassador Anderson offered some very complimentary remarks about Irish-Americans and the importance of their support for Ireland.
These meetings demonstrate the IAUC’s commitment to advancing peace and justice, and advocating for Irish unity. Such activism by our members is crucial to the IAUC’s mission. Brexit has presented an unexpected opportunity to call attention to the UK’s poor stewardship of the North of Ireland, and to reinforce the notion that united Ireland is in all parties’ best interests – Ireland’s, Northern Ireland’s, and the UK’s.