Nationalists welcome Irish-American Brexit pressure as congressmen add voice to business leaders

Irish-American business leaders have warned that a US-UK trade deal could be blocked in the event of a hard Brexit

A WARNING by the powerful Irish-American business lobby that a US-UK trade deal would be blocked in the event of a hard Brexit has been welcomed by nationalists.

Leading US businessman Brian O'Dwyer yesterday claimed that Irish Americans were "prepared to saddle up" to oppose any post-Brexit transatlantic trade agreement.

Writing in The Irish News, the New York-based lawyer said: "The overwhelming majority of the Irish north and south have expressed a clear desire to remain in the European Union – London ignores that reality at its peril."

The pressure from the Irish-American business lobby has been coupled with political pressure from across the Atlantic.

It emerged yesterday that Theresa May has written to a group of US Congressmen who have voiced concerns about Brexit and the risks to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement wrote to Mrs May and Leo Varadkar last month warning that a hard border would "resurrect the memories" of militarisation during the Troubles.

Committee co-chair Bruce Morrison welcomed the Tory leader's letter, saying there was no "dithering in the language" of the correspondence.

"Brexit has taken the oxygen out the politics of Northern Ireland and any fall off in support for the Good Friday Agreement would only make matters worse," he said.

Welcoming the intervention by the US politicians and businesspeople, Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazard said a hard border would damage the economy and "devastate local communities".

"A hard border can be avoided through the withdrawal agreement and the Irish backstop it contains," he said.

"It must be protected in order to protect the interests of Ireland."

SDLP Brexit spokesman Daniel McCrossan also said his party was encouraged to see Irish America "stand firm" against a hard border.

“The ties between the United States and Ireland are ones not easily broken –their involvement in our peace process gives them an in-depth understanding of why we cannot return to the borders of the past," he said.

"London should be careful not to cover their ears to members of congress who have a significant say in future trade deals between the US and the UK."

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