No frontiers as Speaker Nancy Pelosi crosses border

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Richard Neal step across the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland at Bridgend. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

BORDERS and borderlands loom large in Nancy Pelosi’s political life.

Her determination that there be no hard border between the US and Mexico led to her facing down President Donald Trump.

At Bridgend outside Derry yesterday, the senior US politician was standing fast against any hardening of another frontier.

Along with other members of the Congress, she symbolically walked from Northern Ireland into the Republic, across a border marked only by a lighter colour of tar on the road and a km/hour speed limit sign.

One of the most powerful women in the world, Ms Pelosi re-iterated her determination that the US would oppose any post-Brexit border which diminished the Good Friday Agreement in any way.

Read More: Nancy Pelosi brands Brexit an 'aberration' in peace process during border visit

She and her colleagues visited Bridgend to view at first hand the seamlessness of the border.

That could not have been clearer to them. Before and after her visit, cars and lorries and cyclists sped by, the only indication that it was a frontier being an anti-border protest.

The insignificance of the border under common EU membership could not have been clearer.

With no-one present from the Northern Ireland Office, it fell to the Republic’s education minister, Joe McHugh, to greet the Speaker.

This he did yards inside the UK along with Derry mayor John Boyle and Donegal deputy mayor Martin Harley.

Massachusetts congressman Richie Neal recalled a previous border crossing with a former Speaker.

“I was on a bus here 30 years ago with the Speaker of the House, Tom Foley. The bus was stopped and British soldiers mounted the bus with full night-vision and armament and they searched the bus.

“Here we are 30 years later with Speaker Pelosi and we accept the result of the Good Friday Agreement that eliminated the border and we walk back and forth. At that time you were searched; today your phone pings,” he said.

Then, after crossing and re-crossing the frontier once again, the group moved off, letting the border return to the seamless crossing it has become.

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