Nancy Pelosi urged to only back US-UK trade efforts that protect peace deal

Civic and business groups have called on the Speaker of the US House of Representatives to only back a UK trade deal that protects Northern Ireland’s peace deal.

A range of organisations from the region have penned a joint letter to senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi outlining their concerns about a no-deal Brexit.

The letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi as US vice president Mike Pence continued his first official visit to Ireland.

Mrs Pelosi and several other senior US politicians have previously made clear they would not ratify a US/UK trade deal that undermined the terms of 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The letter is signed by a range of civil liberty groups, community organisations, trade unionists and representatives of businesses across Northern Ireland. There are 21 signatories in total.

A delegation from the consortium will travel to Washington later this month to outline their concerns to Speaker Pelosi and other senior US politicians from the main parties in Congress.

In the letter, the groups asked Speaker Pelosi to ensure the Congress scrutinised any future trade deal with the UK “very carefully, to ensure full compliance with the 1998 Agreement”.

“We urge Congress to satisfy itself that the truly transformational foundations for peace and prosperity here, which were laid with the indispensable aid of the United States, are not undermined in any manner by decisions to be taken in Congress,” it stated.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi looks out onto Stormont Estate as she is greeted by Robin Newton, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly in April (PA)

President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Brian McGrath, explained the context for the letter.

“The letter expresses a sense of escalating danger in Northern Ireland, which is set to suffer the worst effects of a no-deal or a ‘hard’ Brexit,” he said.

“And yet the means of full democratic representation are currently limited.”

Brian Gormally, director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, another signatory, added:

“Our letter sets out the main conditions for peace which must be protected through the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and its future trade agreements.”

He set out the “pillars of peace” which needed to be protected.

“The normalisation of security arrangements, the economic stability and investment essential to embedding peace and providing stability for future generations, the equal rights and non-discrimination of citizens here, and the importance of cross-border cooperation.”

The groups that have signed the letter are: Centre for Cross Border Studies; Children’s Law Centre; Committee on the Administration of Justice; Community Foundation for Northern Ireland; Disability Action Northern Ireland; Federation of Passenger Transport NI; Freight Transport Association (Northern Ireland); Human Rights Consortium; Londonderry Chamber of Commerce; Manufacturing NI; Mineral Products Association NI; Newry Chamber of Commerce; Newry & Mourne Co-operative & Enterprise Agency; Northern Ireland Committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action; Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association; Northern Ireland Retail Consortium; Retail NI UNISON Northern Ireland; Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers; Women in Business NI.

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