As a delegation of US Congress representatives prepare to fly to London to express their opposition to unilateral British changes to the Protocol Lord Dodds called last night for a return to the policy of US neutrality over the Province.
Lord Dodds contrasted what he called the “unhelpful partisanship” of Congress leaders such as Richie Neal with the “balanced, rational, helpful approach” of George W Bush’s Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss who played am important role bringing together the DUP and Sinn Fein through the St Andrew’s negotiations in 2006.
The Congressional delegation led by Mr Neal, the influential chairman of the ways and means committee on Capitol Hill, will repeat President Biden’s commitment to the Belfast Agreement and how integral, in American eyes, the Protocol is to maintaining peace and stability.
Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State has also said that the Biden administration will appoint its own envoy to Northern Ireland.
Lord Dodds said of both the President and influential mainly Irish-American Congressional representatives: “There is no balance. It is their way or no way. Richard Neal is always talking about protecting the Belfast Agreement but he and his colleagues don’t seem to actually understand what the Agreement is about. The Protocol not only breaches the Act of Union but is trashes Strand 3 of the Belfast Agreement and breaches the principle of consent. The very thing that they defend, the Protocol, is the thing that breaches the Belfast Agreement entirely.
“Unlike previous administrations the Biden one and those Congress leaders are siding with nationalists and republicans against the unionist community. There is no balanced approach.”
Recalling the negotiations leading to the St Andrew’s Agreement which led to the once unthinkable sight of the late Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sitting down together in government at Stormont, Lord Dodds added:
“I was there and I saw how Mitchell Reiss operated on a fair and very well informed basis. He played a central role in getting Sinn Fein to sign up to support the police and the judicial system in NI. He and the Bush administration took an even handed approach.”