President Biden has “deep” concerns that a UK-EU trade row could endanger peace within Northern Ireland, his national security adviser has said
The United States president will tell fellow leaders during this week’s G7 summit that the gains of peace since the Good Friday Agreement between the British and Irish governments must be protected, Jake Sullivan has said.
Both the UK and EU are at loggerheads over checks on goods going between both Great Britain and the devolved nation of Northern Ireland.
If no compromise is reached between the governments, there are fears of potential further violence and disruptions of peace within NI.
Mr Sullivan’s comments have also come as the UK is currently trying to secure a free-trade deal with the United States.
This comes after the UK government has said that it is “truly sorry” for the events at Ballymurphy in Northern Ireland in 1971 , when 10 innocent people were killed during the Troubles.
He insisted that he was not trying to “negotiate in public” or issue a “warning” to the Prime Minister’s government, but merely stating “how the president feels about this issue”.
Both the UK and EU are in talks over simplifying the Northern Ireland Protocol, which had been set up a post-Brexit trade border between both Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) in order to prevent goods checks from occurring along the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Some checks have been taking place on British goods going to Northern Ireland since Brexit, causing a disruption to both food supplies and online deliveries in the country.
Unionists are currently strongly opposed to these because they do not want Northern Ireland to be treated any differently to the rest of the United Kingdom.
And one group has written to Boris Johnson to withdraw support for the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed in 1998 following heavy involvement by the US, which had helped bring an end to the devastating conflict of the Troubles.
In an interview with Jon Sopel, the editor for BBC North America, Mr Sullivan said that the success or failure of the Northern Ireland Protocol was “critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected”.
He urged the UK and EU to “work out the specifics” and “find a way to proceed that works for both”, adding: “But whatever way they find to proceed must at its core fundamentally protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and not imperil that.”
That was the “message President Biden will send” at the G7 summit, which runs from Friday to Sunday in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Mr Sullivan said.
The conflict within Northern Ireland known as the Troubles had lasted for almost 30 years beginning in the late 1960s, and cost the lives of over 3,500 people.
Peace talks began in the early 1990s, and culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement back in 1998, which ended the worst of the devastating violence.
This comes after ten people who were shot dead at Ballymurphy, in west Belfast, back in 1971 were innocent, and they were killed without justification, a coroner in the inquest has now ruled.
Issues including both climate change and post-pandemic recovery are set to be dominating the meeting between global leaders of most of the world’s largest economies.
The G7 summit also comes as the UK is keen to reach multiple free-trade deals with other countries, including the United States, as it readjusts its economy following its departure from the European Union.
“I’m not intending to send any warnings,” Mr Sullivan said.
But he added: “Our concern [on Northern Ireland] does run deep. That is simply a statement of principle. That’s how the president feels about this issue.
“What it does to a US-UK free-trade agreement, I don’t want to sit here and negotiate in public… or make some claim or threat,” Mr Sullivan said.
“We want to make sure that the work that the US, UK, and Ireland have all done, in addition to the key parties in NI, has got to be honoured and respected and protected as we go forward,” he added.