Brexit: Nancy Pelosi says seamless Irish border must not be threatened by UK leaving EU

Ben Kelly
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Brexit: Nancy Pelosi says seamless Irish border must not be threatened by UK leaving EU

Nancy Pelosi has said that the seamless border in Ireland must not be imperilled by Brexit, during an address to the Irish parliament.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives told assembled members of Ireland’s main political bodies that America would continue to stand with them to protect the values of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking as part of a year-long celebration to mark 100 years since the first sitting of Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament), Ms Pelosi said: “We must ensure that nothing happens in the Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday accord, including – but not limited to – the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Reiterating comments she made earlier in the week during a speech in London, she added: “Let me be clear. If the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday accords there will be no chance of a UK-US trade agreement. I say that hopefully, that we will not have to face that reality, but I say it as a prediction.”

Ms Pelosi’s words were met with applause by a packed chamber of parliamentarians, and special guests including U2 frontman Bono – who she praised at length, noting that after attending so many of his concerts, she was glad to see he was in her audience for a change.

She also remarked on the legacy of John Hume and the late Martin McGuinness, and delivered a powerful tribute to the Northern Ireland peace process.

“We treasure the Good Friday accord because it is not just a treaty, it is an ethic, it is a value, it is an article of faith for us, it is a beacon to the world. We treasure the Good Friday accord because of what it says is possible for the entire world; a reason to hope in every place that dreams that reconciliation will be possible for them too.

“America will continue to stand with you in protecting the peace that the Good Friday accords have realised.

“Now, the first generation born into the hope of Good Friday – the children born then are 21 years old now – are entering their adulthood, knowing peace, we cannot jeopardise that. We must not and we will not allow that progress to be undermined.”

Referring to the well-known links between the US and Ireland, Ms Pelosi noted: “While I don’t have Irish grandparents, we do take pride in having Irish grandchildren.”

On climate change, Ms Pelosi noted that the US had much to learn from Irish initiatives, and said: “We must do better and we must do more, together ... We have a moral responsibility to future generations to hand this planet over in a responsible way.”

She also advocated for Ireland receiving a temporary seat on the UN Security Council in 2021, which was met with loud applause.

Ms Pelosi attended a cultural celebration at Ireland’s historic GPO building on Tuesday evening, and will attend a reception at Dublin Castle on Wednesday night.