US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that Brexit damage to Good Friday Agreement would thwart US trade deal
A WARNING that any weakening of the Good Friday Agreement would scupper the prospects for a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK has been welcomed on both sides of the border.
US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi told an audience in London on Monday that the peace accord was a model that could not be "bargained away in another agreement".
She repeated the message on arrival in Dublin yesterday, saying a future US-UK trade deal was “just not in the cards” if there was any damage from Brexit to the 1998 agreement.
Veteran Democrat Ms Pelosi is heading a delegation of high-ranking US politicians on a fact-finding mission to Ireland.
The group, which will travel north tomorrow visiting Derry and Belfast, also includes Democratic congressmen and leading Irish-Americans Richard Neal and Brendan Boyle.
Ms Pelosi, who is the third most powerful politician in the United States, was greeted on arrival in Dublin by Tánaiste Simon Coveney ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Mr Coveney said the visit was an occasion to celebrate the deep and enduring US-Ireland ties of kinship and friendship, of culture and trade, of shared interests and shared values.
He described Ms Pelosi and her delegation as "strong and steadfast friends of Ireland".
"I and my colleagues in government deeply appreciate US congressional support for peace on this island, and for the provisions and promise of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.
Today the speaker will address TDs, senators and former members of the Oireachtas in the Dáil chamber.
The group is then scheduled to meet President Michael D Higgins, while the taoiseach will host a dinner at Dublin Castle in their honour.
Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Ms Pelosi again warned about potential damage caused by Brexit to the peace process.
"They (the UK) want to leave the EU – that's the decision their country is making, has made – and as they work it out, not to think for one minute that there's any comfort for them in the fact that if they leave the EU that they would quickly have a US-UK trade agreement," she said.
"That's just not on the cards, if there's any harm done to the Good Friday accords – don't even think about that."
Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill, who is due to meet the delegation tomorrow, said the speaker's remarks "reinforce the US commitment to our peace agreements".
"Brexit undermines our hard-won agreements and the right and prosperity of citizens while also risking devastating damage to our economy."
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also said it was "extremely welcome" that Ms Pelosi has "echoed the concerns of people here who fear our peace process is under threat".
"In a time when politics is fractured and has fallen further from what the architects of the Good Friday Agreement envisioned, it is vital that democratic leaders across the world stand up for the hard won rights of people here," he said.
Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said: "I believe that Ms Pelosi's statement sends a strong message to the United Kingdom that their desire to leave the EU cannot be at the cost of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement."