Political news

US Senate's majority leader's appeal to the DUP to restore Stormont is met with curt rebuff from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Majority Leader of the US Senate Chuck Schumer addresses the Ireland Funds' National Gala in Washington DC. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

AN appeal by the US Senate's majority leader for the DUP to restore the Stormont institutions has received a curt rebuff from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who suggested Chuck Schumer "read some history books".

The Lagan Valley MP's remarks came after the leading Democrat addressed the Ireland Funds' National Gala in Washington DC on Wednesday evening.

Guests at the black-tie dinner included former Irish president Mary Robinson, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne and the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III.

The leaders of Stormont's main parties were also among the guests.

Mr Schumer, his party's chief spokesperson in the Senate, praised what he termed the "sometimes spluttering" progress in the peace process.

He said he hoped the Windsor Framework would enable the DUP to restore the Stormont institutions.

"Now the Windsor Framework has been announced, I sincerely hopes it clears the way for the DUP to join Sinn Féin in a power-sharing agreement," he said.

"I say to all parties in the north, but especially the DUP, let's get to the people's business, the business of power-sharing and self-governing."

The Senate majority leader told the audience he would not support any trade deal between the US and UK "if any settlement undermines the Good Friday Agreement".

But Senator Schumer's appeal to the DUP appeared to irk Sir Jeffrey, who has joined the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington for the first time as party leader.

"I would urge the senator to read some history books – maybe he'd learn a little bit more about what really happens and the reality of the situation," he told Sky News.

On the recent EU-UK framework, Sir Jeffrey said: "We're saying the [UK] government needs to go further and to dig deeper to ensure that what we get not only works for here and now but is futureproof,"

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also spoke at the dinner, where he thanked the US for its response to the invasion of Ukraine, paid tribute to the late Congressman Brian Donnelly, and reflected on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"This remarkable achievement took real political leadership - and a vision that was not afraid of compromise - and it allowed us to break the cycle of violence that had ravaged the island of Ireland for 30 years," the Fine Gael leader told guests.

"A new generation of young people were given the freedom to dream big dreams for the first time – it would never have been possible without the support of our friends here in the United States, including some of the people in this room."