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house Bill H. Res. 585

Should the House Reaffirm Support for the Good Friday Agreement to Ensure Peace in Northern Ireland?

Argument in favor

The Good Friday Agreement helped end three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland, and no one wants to see the Troubles return to this region after Brexit. By using trade negotiations to require the U.K. to uphold the Good Friday Agreement, this resolution would ensure that Congress exerts the influence it has to ensure that Northern Ireland’s peace is maintained.

jimK's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
To answer the question posted: Yes, the US should reaffirm our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and our belief that Brexit should not marginalize, separate or effect the freedom or the borders of Ireland. I do not believe that we should stoop to trump-tactics and use trade agreements to force our will upon valued allies and trading partners. This bull crap of using economic leverage to enforce our will upon others over matters which, at their core, are not directly related, reduces our presence in the world to that of being bullies, that our might makes us right. This has to stop or our country will continue to lose the respect we once had as fair and just arbiters of world issues, we will continue to endanger world partnerships that are needed to address world issues on an increasingly finite planet. Diplomacy first! Let’s stop encouraging authoritarian leaders throughout the world by our example; by stopping our use of authoritarian practices to force others to accept our will.
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Brian's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
Peace in Northern Ireland is increasingly at risk due to Brexit and the House should express its support for this peace. The current British leadership seems bent on pulling out of the EU, and a border between the two parts of Ireland will likely cause more conflict. We cannot interfere in British politics, but we can express support for the peace that has lasted nearly 30 years.
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Bhuvanesh's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
We should make it clear that if Brexit divides Ireland, we will end trade relations with the UK. The Good Friday Agreement was a hard-won peace and we should not support the UK if it violates it.
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Argument opposed

Congress shouldn’t use trade as a cudgel to impose its views on other nations, particularly when the concern this resolution seeks to address — violence in Northern Ireland post-Brexit — hasn’t occurred and isn’t guaranteed to occur. The U.K. and Ireland should be trusted to manage their shared border on their own without Congress’ interference.

operaman's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
Just stay out of it. I'm sure that anything the House does will not stop flowers from blooming or rain from falling. Besides, isn't the House twiddling their thumbs over impeachment and neglecting USMCA?
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Matthew's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
Those supporting this are essentially voting for a “quid pro quo” the Democrats have been scolding Pres Trump over. If you put qualifications on an agreement for it to go forward is a “tit for tat” agreement. Either the US is for peace, or it is not. Obviously I would like a united Ireland island, but we have to deal with reality.
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Caren's Opinion
···
last Tuesday
Initially this legislation made sense, but after further reading it isn’t good and should not be supported. Seems there are ulterior motives where our country could unnecessarily benefit at the expense of the people of that country. If we don’t want to be wrongfully taken advantage of then neither should we do that to other countries. There shouldn’t be the holding the carrot over another government to obtain a goal. This is called blackmail. Oh, yeah, isn’t this what Joe Biden did with the Ukrainian government and now blaming on President Trump. Of course a Democrat is behind this. It really does make sense.
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simple resolution Progress


  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedSeptember 24th, 2019

What is House Bill H. Res. 585?

This resolution would reaffirm the House of Representatives’ support for the Good Friday Agreement and urge the United Kingdom (U.K.) and European Union (EU) to ensure that Brexit doesn’t threaten peace on the island of Ireland. It would also strongly oppose the reintroduction of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Additionally, it would insist that any trade agreements between the U.S. and U.K. after Brexit are contingent on meeting the Good Friday Agreement’s obligation. Finally, it would call for continued dialogue between all parties in Northern Ireland in order to overcome political challenges and get power-sharing institutions operating again.

As a simple resolution, this legislation wouldn’t advance beyond the House if passed.

Impact

House of Representatives; U.S.-U.K. trade agreements; EU; U.K.; Ireland; U.K.-Ireland border; and the Good Friday Agreement.

Cost of House Bill H. Res. 585

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) introduced this resolution to call for strict adherence to the Good Friday Agreement during Brexit negotiations and ensure that any trade deal post-Brexit between the U.S. and the U.K. will require the U.K. to uphold the Good Friday Agreement. When he introduced this resolution, Rep. Suozzi said

“Ireland is one of the oldest and closest friends on the United States…We need to ensure that Brexit and other political challenges don’t threaten the peace process by reintroducing a hard border. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over any trade agreements between the United States and United Kingdom, I will fight to make a soft border and implementation of the Good Friday Agreement requirements for any negotiation.”

After this bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Suozzi said

“During these difficult times of often partisan and divided government in the United States, it is gratifying to see such overwhelming bipartisan support to ensure that Brexit and other political challenges don’t threaten the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process by reintroducing a hard border. Ireland is one of the oldest and closest friends of the United States, and the Irish people have been a crucial part of the fabric of our nation for well over a century.” 

Lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Peter King (R-NY) adds, “Support for the Good Friday Agreement is crucial at this critical time. The United States must affirm that the final Brexit deal retains language preventing the return of a hard border.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who traveled to Belfast during the Troubles in 1989, expressed support for this resolution in remarks at its committee markup: 

“[This resolutiotion] reaffirms Congress’s support for the historic peace that the Good Friday Agreement brought to Ireland. This is an issue particularly close to my heart. I remember my first trip as a member of Congress in 1989, traveling to Ireland, traveling to Belfast during the dark days of the Troubles. The Good Friday Agreement, and the fulfillment of every obligation under that agreement, is the only way to ensure that those times of violence and division never return. That’s why I’m so alarmed by the current situation with Brexit, which could reintroduce a hard border between the North and the Republic – a dangerous prospect not only for the peace process, but for the economic stability of the island, and for the rights of the border communities. With this resolution, Congress sends a clear signal to the U.K. and the EU that any Brexit deal must protect the Good Friday Agreement and all its components.”

Former Senator George Mitchell, who served as United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland from 1995 to 2001 and played a vital role in the drafting and signing of the Good Friday Agreement, supports this resolution: 

“I commend Congressmen Suozzi and King for their leadership on [this resolution]. The EU and the UK government have publicly and repeatedly promised that there will not be a return to a hard border. That promise must be kept. [This resolution] is a bipartisan effort to reaffirm support for the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements to ensure a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. That is a worthy objective which deserves widespread support.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, expressed his support for protecting the Good Friday Amendment and avoiding a return to a hard border after Brexit in November 2019. Noting that he’s made it clear in that past that he doesn’t support “breaking down” what’s currently in place, Biden said, “We don't want a guarded border again. We don't want to do it.”

Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable, George Hamilton, has repeatedly said that a hard border would be damaging for the wider peace process. He argues that any new border infrastructure would be seen as “fair game” for attack by dissident Irish Republicans. In a 2018 interview, he also observed: 

“If you put up significant physical infrastructure at a border, which is the subject of contention politically, you are re-emphasising the context and the causes of the conflict. So, that creates tensions and challenges and questions around people's identity, which in some ways the Good Friday Agreement helped to deal with.”

Former Bookings expert Jacques Mistral, who served as an economic advisor to French Prime Minister Michel Rocard in 1998 when Rocard negotiated an agreement restoring civil peace in New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific, suggested a Northern Irish referendum allowing Northern Irish citizens to vote on whether or not to secede from the U.K. and become part of a United Ireland, become part of the EU, or secede from the U.K. as a last-ditch attempt to get rid of the so-called “Irish backstop” and help make Brexit more orderly: 

“The prospect of enforcing an Irish land border would disorganize the Northern Irish economy; it would also impose severe political costs on the EU. For these reasons, a Northern Irish referendum should be proposed, discussed, and organized as soon as possible. This could be the last chance to get rid of the backstop, as Prime Minister Johnson so ardently desires, while giving London a sense of an orderly Brexit.”

The Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and some Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs say the issue of a hard border need not arise as they believe it can be overcome by administrative and technical measures. The DUP also argues that the imposition of the backstop is the real threat to the spirit of the Good Friday Amendment.

Thus far, Democrats have expressed the strongest support for the Good Friday Amendment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) have all been vocal supporters of the GFA.

This resolution unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of 46 bipartisan cosponsors, including 42 Democrats and four Republicans.


Of NoteThe Good Friday Agreement — also known as the Belfast Agreement — was reached on Good Friday, April 10, 1998. It was a peace agreement between the British and Irish governments, as well as most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, on how Northern Ireland should be governed. The GFA’s aim was to establish a new, devolved government for Northern Ireland in which unionists and nationalists would share power. 

This agreement helped bring an end to a period of violence in the region called the Troubles: a period in which two groups — Nationalists (some of whom were also called Republicans because they wanted Northern Ireland to join the Republic of Ireland) and Unionists (some of whom were called Loyalists due to their loyalty to the British crown) — fought over the future of Irish statehood. The Troubles were rooted in the early 1920s, when Northern Ireland became part of the U.K. while the Republic of Ireland became a separate country after splitting off from British rule. 

From the 1970s to 1990s, there was heavy fighting between armed groups on both sides of the conflict, and many people died in the violence. To deal with the conflict, British troops were sent to the area — but they came into conflict with Republican armed groups, of which the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was the largest group. Both the IRA and Loyalists (including the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)) committed acts of violence.

In the 1990s, the IRA announced that it would stop bombings and shootings, which gave the Unionists and Nationalists the opportunity to try to reach a peace agreement. In 1998 — after nearly two years of talks and 30 years of conflict — the Good Friday Agreement was signed, forming a new government with power shared between Unionists and Nationalists

Today, while the withdrawal agreement agreed upon between the EU and Britain in November 2019 looks promising for Northern Ireland, this resolution notes the divisions in British politics as Britain’s general election on December 12th approaches. Given the current climate, this resolution states, “In this time of great uncertainty we believe that it is very important for the United States to reaffirm its support for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Oleksandr Filon)

AKA

Reaffirming support for the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements to ensure a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

Official Title

Reaffirming support for the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements to ensure lasting peace in Northern Ireland

    To answer the question posted: Yes, the US should reaffirm our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and our belief that Brexit should not marginalize, separate or effect the freedom or the borders of Ireland. I do not believe that we should stoop to trump-tactics and use trade agreements to force our will upon valued allies and trading partners. This bull crap of using economic leverage to enforce our will upon others over matters which, at their core, are not directly related, reduces our presence in the world to that of being bullies, that our might makes us right. This has to stop or our country will continue to lose the respect we once had as fair and just arbiters of world issues, we will continue to endanger world partnerships that are needed to address world issues on an increasingly finite planet. Diplomacy first! Let’s stop encouraging authoritarian leaders throughout the world by our example; by stopping our use of authoritarian practices to force others to accept our will.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    Just stay out of it. I'm sure that anything the House does will not stop flowers from blooming or rain from falling. Besides, isn't the House twiddling their thumbs over impeachment and neglecting USMCA?
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Peace in Northern Ireland is increasingly at risk due to Brexit and the House should express its support for this peace. The current British leadership seems bent on pulling out of the EU, and a border between the two parts of Ireland will likely cause more conflict. We cannot interfere in British politics, but we can express support for the peace that has lasted nearly 30 years.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    We should make it clear that if Brexit divides Ireland, we will end trade relations with the UK. The Good Friday Agreement was a hard-won peace and we should not support the UK if it violates it.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    We must support movements toward peace.
    Like (10)
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    Yes, but I am pretty sure Ireland 🇮🇪 would prefer if we simply remove the idiot in the oval. I am with JimK on this one. Politics are exhausting and I have cookies to bake. Although, TickTock does make a good point about having limited creditability currently. I guess ask Ireland what they want...
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    Given our own Country’s diplomatic, political and even financial investment in the Irish Peace Process, and now particularly with the advent of a new United States Special Envoy, the vital issue of human rights, including language rights is a concern to us all.
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    As Brexit continues to loom over a decade of peace and cooperation as codified by the establishment of the GFA, Congress has a duty to uphold the principles laid out in the agreement. The US cannot falter in its support of the GFA and the American news cycle cannot be a distraction from our commitment to a lasting peace on the island of Ireland that so many US lawmakers played a significant part in helping to create over a decade ago.
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    We should always work to bring Peace where there was Violence.
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    The Good Friday Agreement ended a long series of violent altercations in Ireland. Consequently, disagreement with the ceasefire created numerous splinter groups with the technological and strategic know-how to continue promoting nationalistic goals that weren’t part of the standing peace agreement. Groups like the Real IRA have caused tremendous terror and suffering in their efforts to promote their goals (see Omagh bombing). This is an undesirable environment for any country as political violence anywhere is bound to impede numerous human rights. As some groups are still active today, and are typically smaller in size, they often sneak under the radar of security forces and, for academics, are challenging to study. Thus, supporting the Good Friday Agreement may send a striking message that violent rebellion in Ireland is being denounced by the international community.
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    Yes, our House must reaffirm the Good Friday peace agreement. It would be a horrible, and preventable, tragedy if violence once again terrorized Northern Ireland.
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    Those supporting this are essentially voting for a “quid pro quo” the Democrats have been scolding Pres Trump over. If you put qualifications on an agreement for it to go forward is a “tit for tat” agreement. Either the US is for peace, or it is not. Obviously I would like a united Ireland island, but we have to deal with reality.
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    Peace on Earth, good will toward all men and women in Ireland.
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    The United States should always choose Peace, support Peace, when and wherever Peace is possible.
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    We should support and affirm peace everywhere we can.
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    Initially this legislation made sense, but after further reading it isn’t good and should not be supported. Seems there are ulterior motives where our country could unnecessarily benefit at the expense of the people of that country. If we don’t want to be wrongfully taken advantage of then neither should we do that to other countries. There shouldn’t be the holding the carrot over another government to obtain a goal. This is called blackmail. Oh, yeah, isn’t this what Joe Biden did with the Ukrainian government and now blaming on President Trump. Of course a Democrat is behind this. It really does make sense.
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    Yup
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    Yes
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    It’s become really simple , find out what Trump wants to do. Then do the exact opposite. This will prove to be the correct choice at least 8 out of 10 times. If he has a hotel or golf course involved those odds go to 100%
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    Yes
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