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PHOTO: L to R- Former NYS legislator and  NYC attorney John Dearie; Ciaran Madden, Irish Consul General (NY);  and Michael Cummings (Philadelphia) Secretary of the American Brexit Committee. 

While Americans watch with puzzlement at the apparent meltdown of Britain’s Conservative government over how to exit the European Union ( it has been a member for 42 years), the American Brexit Committee met to assess how that exit will impact Ireland and the 1998 Eire-UK Treaty (Good Friday Agreement).  The Irish Consul General Ciaran Madden addressed the Committee to provide an update on the status of Brexit.

  “There is little doubt”, stated John Dearie, a former NYS legislator and prominent NYC attorney “that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the peace process in Ireland will be threatened with Brexit.   The divorce  will have a negative impact on  the economy not only of the Irish Republic but on Northern Ireland one of the UK’s poorest regions.”

The meetings attendees included members and representatives of  major organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC), the Brehon Law Society,  the American Committee on American-Irish Relations, academics, and labor activists.  The topics discussed included  Brexit options still in play,  continuing concern for  British compliance with GFA obligations, the proposed US-UK trade proposals the Trump administration  is preparing as a ‘reward for Brexit, the suspended NI government, invitations to Member of the European Parliament Martina Andersen, legal activist Niall Murphy and others as expert witnesses before Congress, and the role of congressional groups like the Friends of Ireland  headed by Representative Rich  Neal and the Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs Co-Chaired by Representatives Eliot Engel and Peter King.

Stated Peter Kissel, National President of the IAUC:  “ Americans must be aware that some in the May  government ‘s wish to scrap the GFA as “outliving its usefulness”  and of  the British Ministry of Defense’  incessant  efforts to undermine legacy investigations.  Also  in the sights of this Conservative government  is the   removal  of  the European Convention of Human Rights  from English law and the adoption of a statute of limitations  to grant amnesty to soldiers involved in the  murder of  innocent  civilians in NI.”  If the GFA is in peril there are hundreds of cases that may  be denied any form of truth or justice.  British negligence on cases like those of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, the murders of lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, and the cases of Ballymurphy and  Loughinisland were reviewed.

A larger discussion  ensued  on the actions of the Trump administration to promote and reward the UK, the  world’s 5th largest economy,  with a massive trade deal despite the substantial deficit  the US has with the UK.  President Trump’s Trade Ambassador Lighthizer  gave  no evidence the Administration has given any thought to  how Brexit will impact the partitioned island of Ireland or if  Brexit  serves the interest of President Putin who promotes  EU break-up.

Dan Dennehy, National AOH Board Member, speculated,  “the absence of a new  U. S. Ambassador to Ireland   has  added to our concerns that Ireland  may be getting shortchanged in this rush to play pattycake with the UK.”    A letter was circulated showing that British trade staff have been camped out in the Office of the U. S. Trade Representative since July, 2017.
“We should work to get key Members of Congress to reveal the contents of this pending trade package” concluded American Brexit Committee Chairman John Corcoran, “so that as Brexit unfolds and the true extent of any  harm to   Ireland is  known. We  then can ask the Members to question the British about mitigating any damage and to  reserve  judgment on the merits of the trade deals.  Hopefully the British will respond to Congress with truth faster than the 40 years it took them to tell the truth about Bloody Sunday!”  

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