Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has said he will focus on the impact of Brexit in his new role as U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, according to a report by the Irish Times.
Mulvaney, an Irish-American himself, suggested he was studying the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Brexit in the context of Northern Ireland before departing the United States to take his new post.
“I have been using the time to familiarise myself with the issues,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney noted that he plans to travel to Northern Ireland “as soon as the door opens”, and that his appointment is a reflection of the interest President Trump has in the Brexit process.
“The president knew that Brexit is going to be a big deal – it’s a big deal just generally, and in terms of North-South relations – so he said to me: ‘Jared is going to go and take care of the Palestinians and Israelis, you make sure things go smoothly over there,” he added.
The status of Northern Ireland has been a major issue in the Brexit process, given its territorial and economic ties to Ireland, and its cultural and national ties to Britain. Northern Ireland has long faced a low-level insurgency by pro-Irish terrorist groups such as the New IRA, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, which do not recognize the peace agreement signed in 1999.
Mulvaney has already communicated with several key figures involved in the Northern Ireland dispute, including British Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.