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Nancy goes north to see peace given a chance by open border

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US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi (centre) with Pat Hume (centre right) on the Peace Bridge in Derry yesterday, as part of her four-day visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA

US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi (centre) with Pat Hume (centre right) on the Peace Bridge in Derry yesterday, as part of her four-day visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA

PA

US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi (centre) with Pat Hume (centre right) on the Peace Bridge in Derry yesterday, as part of her four-day visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA

Having used a historic speech in the Dail to defend Irish peace, Nancy Pelosi yesterday went to see the benefits of the Good Friday Agreement for herself.

The speaker of the US House of Representatives recalled scenes of "tanks and barbed wire" from a previous visit to Northern Ireland as she observed the now frictionless border.

Ms Pelosi, who visited Belfast with her daughter more than two decades ago, recalled how different things were now.

She underlined the important legacy of the Irish peace deal to other regions that have been marked by conflict, hailing it as a "beacon to the world" and a model for reconciliation.

Tensions

Her contribution to a gathering in the Dail on Wednesday has received widespread coverage in the US because of comments she made about the potential for a US-UK trade deal after Brexit.

Fox News, which routinely backs US president Donald Trump, reported that she had attempted to create "domestic tensions" while speaking on "foreign soil".

However, America's third most powerful politician did receive the backing of former president Bill Clinton.

He posted a link to a news report on her speech, saying she had "perfectly" captured "the special bond between the United States and Ireland - a partnership of the past, present and future".

In Northern Ireland yesterday, Ms Pelosi expressed pride in the role of Mr Clinton and senator George Mitchell, as well as senior congressman Richard Neal.

"What it means to the world to have this example of reconciliation, really ending hundreds of years of conflict, recent thousands of deaths," she said.

She repeatedly railed against the prospect of a hard border during her tour with congressional colleagues.

Ms Pelosi was greeted at the border, at Bridgend, Co Donegal, by anti-Brexit campaigners during her short stop at what will become the EU-UK frontier.

"We believe that Brexit should be just an aberration in this discussion as we con- tinue to build and strengthen our peace that was generated by the Good Friday accord," she said.

Bridge

"Far be it for any of us to want that beacon's lustre to be dimmed by anything that the Brexit conversation could bring down on the Good Friday accord."

Ms Pelosi walked across the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle in Derry.

Education Minister Joe McHugh, who accompanied the delegation from the US, said the visit was very important.

"Since Brexit, there has been a very loud voice along the border communities and further away that we cannot go back to the past," he said.

"We cannot go back to a border that is going to obstruct the free-flowing movement of goods and people on a day-to-day basis."