Wednesday 18 September 2019

Pelosi recalls tanks and barbed wire on walk over Peace Bridge

Bridging the divide: Nancy Pelosi (centre) and US Congressman Richard Neal (left) on the Peace Bridge in Derry. Photo: PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Bridging the divide: Nancy Pelosi (centre) and US Congressman Richard Neal (left) on the Peace Bridge in Derry. Photo: PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Having used a historical speech in the Dáil to defend Irish peace, Nancy Pelosi yesterday went to see the benefits of the Good Friday Agreement for herself.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives recalled scenes of "tanks and barbed wire" from a previous visit to Northern Ireland as she observed the now frictionless Border. Ms Pelosi visited Belfast with her daughter more than two decades ago.

She reiterated the important example that the Irish peace deal has set for other regions, saying it was a "beacon to the world" and a model for reconciliation.

Her contribution to a gathering in the Dáil on Wednesday has received widespread coverage in the United States because of comments she made about the potential for a US-UK trade deal after Brexit.

Fox News, which routinely backs President Donald Trump, reported that she had attempted to create "domestic tensions" while speaking on "foreign soil".

But America's third most powerful politician did receive the backing of ex-president Bill Clinton.

He posted a link to a news report on her speech, saying she had "perfectly" captured "the special bond between the United States and Ireland - a partnership of the past, present and future".

In Northern Ireland yesterday, Ms Pelosi expressed pride in the role of former president Clinton and senator George Mitchell as well as senior congressman Richard Neal.

"What it means to the world to have this example of reconciliation, really ending hundreds of years of conflict, recent thousands of deaths," she said.

She has repeatedly railed against the prospect of a hard Irish Border during her tour of Ireland with congressional colleagues.

Ms Pelosi was greeted at the Border by anti-Brexit campaigners during her short stop at what will become the EU-UK frontier.

"We believe that Brexit should be just an aberration in this discussion as we continue to build and strengthen our peace that was generated by the Good Friday accord," Ms Pelosi said.

"Far be it for any of us to want that beacon's lustre to be dimmed by anything that the Brexit conversation could bring down on the Good Friday accord."

The congresswoman walked across the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle in Derry.

Education Minister Joe McHugh, who accompanied the US delegation, said the visit was very important.

"Since Brexit there has been a very loud voice along the Border communities and further away from the Border communities that we cannot go back to the past, we cannot go back to a Border that is going to obstruct the free-flowing movement of goods and people on a day-to-day basis."

Irish Independent

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