Category: Archive

GOP pols press Bush on Ireland involvement

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Leading Republican legislators and party leaders are urging the incoming Bush administration to stick to its campaign pledges on Ireland.

A draft letter co-authored by a number of GOP congressional members is being circulated on Capitol Hill this week in search of signatures.

The move comes only days before George W. Bush is sworn in as 43rd president.

During the campaign, Bush promised to send a U.S. peace envoy to Northern Ireland if one was deemed necessary to keep the peace process on track.

The letter, which had not been made public as the Echo went to press Tuesday afternoon, is understood to remind Bush that President Clinton’s efforts to secure a settlement in Ireland had been a foreign-policy success, though one strongly aided by Republicans in Congress.

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"Bush is being urged to keep Irish policy under the wing of the National Security Council, as opposed to the State Department," a GOP source said.

"It is considered important that Ireland stay with the NSC. Otherwise there is always the danger inertia if Ireland is in the hands of permanent bureaucracies."

The letter, the first draft of which was drawn up before Bush was actually confirmed president, is understood to urge Bush to focus on Ireland in his first State of the Union speech, due shortly after his inauguration on Saturday, Jan. 20.

In former years, leading Republicans have been critical of U.S. involvement in Ireland.

Most notably, former Secretary of State James Baker ridiculed President Clinton for his Irish policies during the 1996 GOP convention.

In more recent times, however, GOP members on Capitol Hill have been taking the initiative on Ireland while the party has also witnessed the emergence of the kind of Irish-American lobby groups familiar to Democrats.

The letter to Bush is expected to be finalized by the end of this week and delivered to the President-elect in advance of his inauguration.

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