Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA in Washington DC
The DUP has been urged to restore power-sharing by the leader of the US senate at a gala dinner attended by senior political figures from both sides of the Border.
Among the high-profile guests at the dinner were former Irish president Mary Robinson, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne and the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III.
Also in attendance were Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, her vice-president Michelle O’Neill, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, UUP leader Doug Beattie, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.
Chuck Schumer praised the slow and “sometimes spluttering” progress made to achieve peace in Northern Ireland, before urging the Stormont institutions to be restored.
The US Senate Majority Leader also said he hoped the Windsor Framework “clears the way for the DUP to join Sinn Féin in a power-sharing agreement decided by the people of Northern Ireland in the last election, an amazing election.
“I say to all parties in the north, but especially the DUP, let’s get to the people’s business.”
Mr Schumer also referenced a group of Irish fishermen’s campaign to oust a Russian naval ship away from the Cork coast in 2021, quoted novelist James Joyce, and said Mayo would win the All-Ireland Football Championship.
“I come from Ireland’s 33rd county – Brooklyn, New York!” he said.
He also praised the Irish rugby team – telling the congregation that if they had been sent to Ukraine, the war would be over within a week.
Republican Kevin McCarthy, the great-grandson of a labourer from Co Cork, referenced the opposition that led to him eventually to becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives – on the 15th ballot.
“A true Irishman never passes up a good fight,” he said. “But, as an Irishman, we also know when the fight’s over. You bring peace, you keep the peace, and that’s what we will do.”
During his address, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar thanked the US for its response to the invasion of Ukraine, paid tribute to the late Congressman Brian Donnelly, and reflected on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
He told guests: “This remarkable achievement took real political leadership – and a vision that was not afraid of compromise – and it allowed us to break the cycle of violence that had ravaged the island of Ireland for 30 years.
“A new generation of young people were given the freedom to dream big dreams for the first time.
“It would never have been possible without the support of our friends here in the United States, including some of the people in this room.
“In many ways, America is the thirds co-guarantor of the Agreement.”
The Taoiseach added: “Twenty-five years on, Northern Ireland is a very different place. It has its problems and has yet to live up to the full promise of Good Friday 1998, but it is unquestioningly a much better place than it was and there are so many opportunities available to young people that were unimaginable for too long.
“In this St Patrick’s week, let us remember that peace in Northern Ireland is one of the greatest and most significant success stories in American foreign policy.
“At critical junctures, the intervention of the United States drove the process forward.
“I believe the best way of celebrating a quarter of a century of peace on the island of Ireland, is by seizing this opportunity to make it a shining example to the world of what can be achieved when hope overcomes fear,” he said.