Category: Archive

Border no barrier

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, William Farish, is a not infrequent visitor to the North. Farish, a former business executive and friend of President Bush from Texas, is a star draw and is clearly qualified to speak on a range of business investment issues in particular. Assuming the Bush administration plumps for a Farish-like envoy to Dublin, there could be a similar a role for the new man, or woman.
After all, much of the U.S. economic focus in the peace process already carries a cross-border dimension. It would be a positive development if both the ambassadors to London and Dublin were to make joint appearances at events in the North. Each could also make separate appearances. Such an enhanced role would, at the very least, allow the Dublin envoy a greater degree of job satisfaction.
Richard Egan, who recently tendered his resignation as ambassador in Dublin, was apparently disgruntled with what he saw as a limited role on the island. He might have stayed longer had he been allowed to feel that he was doing his bit to further progress north of the border.
Business executives, politicians, diplomats — the job description doesn’t matter. People who end up as ambassadors tend to be doers. Boxing them in only guarantees frustration.
The central thrust behind diplomacy is to breach barriers and to promote peace and greater understanding between people. If that be the case, getting a couple of like-minded U.S. ambassadors into the same room in Belfast or Derry from time to time should be easy enough. And it would send a signal that the U.S. is intent on actively promoting greater cooperation between North and South.

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