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US will protect the Good Friday Agreement, Special Envoy to NI says

Mulvaney, the former Chief of Staff to US President Donald Trump, took up the role of Special Envoy in March.

US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, right, meets Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
US Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, right, meets Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
Image: Department of Foreign Affairs

Updated Sep 28th 2020, 5:26 PM

THE UNITED STATES will “protect and defend” the Good Friday Agreement, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland has said.

Mick Mulvaney said the agreement could be “at risk” because of the UK Government’s controversial Internal Market Bill, but that it was something the United States was “very interested in seeing not happen”.

He made the comments on a visit to Dublin today where he met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

His visit comes as the British government rebuffed a fresh demand from the EU to withdraw the Internal Market Bill, which could see the UK unilaterally tear up elements of the Brexit divorce deal.

Mulvaney said the US was watching the EU-UK negotiations closely.

“I think it’s fair to say we are aware and cautious and watching the situation,” he said.

“Concern would imply that we’re worried and I don’t think we’re at that point yet but we certainly understand the interplay between the EU/UK trade deal and the Internal Market Bill and the Good Friday agreement.

“That’s mostly while I’m here. I have not been able to be here previously because of Covid.”

He told RTÉ News that the Good Friday Agreement could be “at risk”.

He said: “I don’t think it necessarily follows that just because the UK introduced the Internal Markets Bill that automatically means the Good Friday Agreement is at risk.

“But I think anyone who looks at the situation understands there could be a series of events that could put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.

“Again something we’re very interested in seeing not happen in the United States.

“We’re here to protect, defend that Good Friday Agreement that was so hard fought and won.” 

Mulvaney met with Simon Coveney earlier today.  

This is his first visit to Ireland, due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In July, he said that he was “chomping at the bit” to visit Northern Ireland. 

Mulvaney met with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in Belfast yesterday. 

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Coveney is set to travel to Washington this week to discuss “the unbreakable bond between Ireland and the USA”. 

“I emphasised our real concern at the current approach of the UK Government and the vital importance of the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the achievements of the peace process,” Coveney said in a statement. 

The UK government faced anger and criticism in Europe and the US over the Internal Markets Bill, which would allow ministers to override parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement regarding trade with Northern Ireland. 

Mulvaney yesterday said that he believes that a trade deal can still be reached

“What the attitude of my government is – is that we are confident the EU and UK will be able to work this out in a way that’s acceptable to everybody,” he told the BBC. 

- With reporting by Press Association

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