Northern Ireland

US Secretary of State Blinken congratulates Northern Ireland leaders, but contact condemned amid continued Gaza bombardment

Blinken urges First Ministers to work collaboratively during call described by People Before Profit MLA as “shamelessly flaunting” links with “backers of genocide”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Northern Ireland’s leaders were urged over the weekend to “work collaboratively to deliver prosperity” by the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken following a phone call with the First Ministers.

But the contact with First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly was condemned by one MLA because of the US administration’s position on the continued Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Mr Blinken’s spokesperson Matthew Miller said Mr Blinken congratulated the First Minister and deputy First Minister on their appointments and welcomed the restoration of the power sharing government at Stormont.

He said he “encouraged the leaders to work collaboratively to deliver prosperity for the people of Northern Ireland and to model co-operative power sharing for the world to see”.

Mr Miller added that Mr Blinken “affirmed the US commitment to Northern Ireland’s future and to preserving the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement for all”.

The call was announced on social media by The Executive Office, while Ms Little-Pengelly described the contact as a “good call” during which the DUP representative “set out my vision for building the next 25 years of prosperity...and a desire to work with the USA on business and economic investment in NI”. The First Minister did not make any further comment on social media.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the two leaders “are shamelessly flaunting their links to the backers of genocide in Gaza”.

Smoke rises after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, on Thursday (Leo Correa/AP)
Israel Palestinians Smoke rises after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, on Thursday (Leo Correa/AP) (Leo Correa/AP)

“Both Blinken and Biden are funding and arming Israel at it commits genocide. Elected representatives should have no truck with those who sanction such barbarism,” Mr Carroll claimed.

“This friendly phone call from Blinken makes a mockery of Sinn Féin’s suggestion that they will challenge the US administration at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Much of the Sinn Féin rank and file are better on this issue than their party leadership and are deeply uncomfortable with the St. Patrick’s Day visit.”

Ms O’Neill and party leader Mary Lou McDonald have said they will travel to Washington next month “in pursuit of peace”.

“We will also advocate for an end to the Israeli genocidal war and occupation in Gaza and the West Bank,” a statement from the party said.