Department of State Counselor Derek Chollet visited Belfast, Northern Ireland October 10 to meet political leaders as well as civil society and private sector representatives to reaffirm the United States support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of the region’s devolved institutions. While in Northern Ireland, Counselor Chollet’s discussions focused on strengthening trade and investment ties and the U.S. commitment to the peace and prosperity of all of Northern Ireland’s communities.
The United States and Northern Ireland enjoy a deep and abiding friendship rooted in historical ties, shared values, and a mutually beneficial economic partnership. As Northern Ireland prepares for the 25th anniversary of the U.S. brokered Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in April 2023, Counselor Chollet reiterated President Biden’s longstanding commitment to secure a prosperous Northern Ireland for all communities new and old.
“This has been a useful and productive series of engagements at a critical time. Northern Ireland’s political, economic, and social progress over the past two-and-a-half decades is a result of the courage of the region’s decision-makers and its citizens. I left in no doubt that its political leaders have the capacity and will to find agreed solutions to their political challenges. As a friend and partner, the United States will continue to underscore the importance of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and support all who seek to fulfil Northern Ireland’s great potential”.
During his meetings, Counselor Chollet offered condolences on behalf of the United States on the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In his meeting with newly appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Counselor Chollet acknowledged the critical role of the United Kingdom as a co-guarantor of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The Counselor and the Secretary of State discussed the practical challenges surrounding the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Counselor encouraged the continuation and acceleration of constructive talks between the U.K. and E.U. to bring about mutually agreeable outcomes to the current impasse, urging both sides to show greater flexibility. He also stressed the United States’ desire for a strong and prosperous U.K. to remain a leader in Europe, and for the U.K. and the European Union to remain strong leaders within the global community.
At Stormont, Counselor Chollet met with the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey MLA, before holding individual meetings
with leaders of the legislature’s five main political parties. The Counselor emphasized to all parties that public policy challenges – including those involving the economy – are best addressed through devolved government chosen by, and accountable to, its people. He encouraged Northern Ireland’s political leaders to take the necessary steps to re-establish a power-sharing executive -one of the core institutions established by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
Counselor Chollet also took time to engage with civil society leaders, including representatives of the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group – a consortium of organizations representing Northern Ireland business and industry on issues around Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Counselor heard about challenges and opportunities that exist around the implementation of the Protocol, but there was strong consensus on the need for pragmatism, flexibility, and cooperation. Counselor Chollet also heard how Northern Ireland enjoys a unique trading position within both the U.K and European single market. His conversations also touched on the buoyant growth that now exists in two-way trade between the United States and Northern Ireland. Emerging sectors like fintech, cybersecurity and life sciences are a product of the region’s competitive operating costs, human talent, research excellence and a resilient infrastructure.
As a friend and honest broker to the region, the United States is dedicated to Northern Ireland’s political, economic, and social progress. Counselor Chollet pledged the U.S Government’s continued support for those who are working to build stability and prosperity across the region. Next year’s anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement offers a potential platform to showcase Northern Ireland’s excellent proposition as a place in which to invest and do business. The United States looks forward to working in a spirit of partnership to that end.