THE third most powerful politician in America has warned US President Donald Trump and Brexiteers not to even think about a US-UK trade deal if there is any threat of a hard border in Ireland.
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said a trade agreement that damages peace in Ireland "just can't possibly happen".
Addressing a small gathering in the Department of Foreign Affairs at the start of a two-day visit, Ms Pelosi said the Good Friday Agreement is "not just a peace agreement" but something that resolved hundreds of years of conflict.
She said America, including president Bill Clinton and former senator George Mitchell, had worked hard to ensure people on this island could live in harmony.
"This isn't for us an issue or an agreement. It's a value," Ms Pelosi said.
Ms Pelosi, who regularly clashes with Mr Trump, went on to say that while speaking with UK politicians in recent days, she made clear the position of the Democratic Party.
She said the UK people had voted to leave the EU and politicians must facilitate that.
However, she added: "And as they work that out, not to think for one minute that there's any comfort for them that if they leave the EU they will quickly have a US-UK trade agreement.
"That's just not in the cards if there is any harm done to the Good Friday accords. Don't even think about it."
Ms Pelosi said that US politicians were not taking sides.
"We're just holding to our values. It's an ideal that is a model for the world. Other places copy so that they can make peace and find common ground," she said.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney told the same lunch gathering that Ireland respects the UK's decision to leave the EU.
"We have no desire to make life difficult for the UK," he said, adding that Ireland would be the strongest voice in the EU when it comes to supporting a close relationship in the future.
"We want our nearest neighbours to thrive and to prosper."
Mr Coveney said Britain will make its own decisions about the future but "they do not have the right to determine ours".
Today, Ms Pelosi will address TDs, senators and former politicians at a special event to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Dail.
Along with a delegation of congressmen, she will then meet President Michael D Higgins, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will host a dinner at Dublin Castle.
The US delegation includes several members of the Friends of Ireland caucus.
The US politicians will head north tomorrow to see the Border for themselves and attend a number of events in Derry.
Mr Coveney described the trip as a "significant visit - an occasion to celebrate the deep and enduring US-Ireland ties of kinship and friendship, of culture and trade, of shared interests and shared values".
At private talks they discussed economic and trading relationship between the two countries, as well as immigration.