A delegation of high-ranking US politicians, including speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, will visit the Northern Ireland border between the counties of Derry and Donegal on Thursday.
The visit comes after days of repeated warnings about how any undermining of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement — which ushered in a “seamless border” with Ireland and 20 years of peace — would prevent the US from signing a trade agreement with the UK.
Speaking to Irish parliament on Wednesday, Pelosi once again said that there would be “no chance” of a trade agreement if a Brexit deal risked the imposition of a hard border.
“We must ensure that nothing happens in the Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday accord, including — but not limited to — the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland,” Pelosi said.
Later on Thursday, the delegation will travel to Belfast. The city’s Stormont Assembly currently lies dormant, thanks to a domestic political stalemate between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, which has left Northern Ireland without an executive since January 2017.
Pelosi explained this week that the US had a “vested” interest in the Good Friday Agreement. At a reception for Pelosi in Dublin Castle on Wednesday evening, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar noted that the agreement was only made possible by “Americans of good faith.”
“They helped pave the way for prosperity and gave young people their own future,” Varadkar said. The arduous process that led to its signing was chaired by former US senator George Mitchell.
“We must not and we will not allow that progress to be undermined,” Pelosi warned on Wednesday, calling the agreement a “beacon to the world.”
In the 30 years before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, clashes — known simply as the Troubles — took the lives of more than 3,600 people.