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US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi said there would be “no chance whatsoever” of a US-UK trade deal if the Northern Ireland peace agreement was weakened by Brexit.
Speaking at the London School of Economics ahead of her visit to Dublin, the Democratic leader in the House said that a US-UK trade agreement would be “a non-starter” if the Belfast Agreement was undermined.
Ms Pelosi, who as speaker is second in the line of succession to the US presidency after the vice president, is the most senior American politician to warn against a trade deal between the two countries if the Northern Irish peace process is damaged by Brexit.
The Democrat was speaking in London as part of a US congressional delegation visit to Britain, Germany, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The delegation travels on to Dublin today when she will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
In conversation at the London university, Ms Pelosi stressed in the first instance that getting a trade bill through the US congress was “no given” but said that “if there was to be any weakening of the Good Friday accords that there would be no chance whatsoever – a non-starter – for the US-UK trade agreement.”
Praising the 21-year-old peace deal, the Democrat said that it was not something that could be undermined given how highly the agreement was held by people around the world.
“The Good Friday accords ended, like, 700 years of conflict,” she said.
“It is not just about that geography though. This is not a treaty only. It is an ideal; it is a value. It is something that is a model to the world, something we all take pride in.”
She mentioned how proud former US president Bill Clinton and former senator George Mitchell, who brokered the peace agreement, were of the agreement and how it had to be protected post-Brexit.
“It was hard but it was a model and other people have used it as a model and we don’t want that model to be something that can be bargained away in some other agreement,” she said, referring to Brexit.
Ms Pelosi said that she told British prime minister Theresa May, her de facto deputy David Lidington, Conservative pro-Brexit hardliners and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during their meetings and conversations while in London that there would be no trade deal if Brexit undermined the 1998 agreement.
“To all of them, we made it clear: don’t even think about that,” she said.
In response, “every single person” told the US politicians: “don’t worry about it – that is a place that we cannot go,” said Ms Pelosi.
Among the politicians in the travelling delegation are Democratic congressmen Richie Neal, the chairman of the powerful House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee that must sign off on any future US trade deal with the UK, and Brendan Boyle, whose father emigrated from Co Donegal to Pennsylvania.
Mr Neal has played a longstanding and active role in the US in building support for peace in Northern Ireland. Ms Pelosi referred to his role in the peace process “for a long period of time”.
I got 500 points in my mocks and have my heart set on studying law in either UCD or Trinity. The points required last year were 522 in UCD and 533 in Trinity. Do you think the points will come down this year or do I need to widen my course choices?
Firstly, congratulations on securing such a good score. To get 500 CAO points in what is in effect a practice run holds great promise for the exams themselves. I am sure you have reflected on what you learned from the experience of sitting the mocks, and that you will apply this learning in the real exams in June.
You may well secure the additional CAO points to put you in a good place to secure your desired place in law in either UCD or Trinity.
But, if I were you, I would be widen my range of alternate options to allow for all possible outcomes.
The three other universities in the greater Dublin area - DCU, TU Dublin, and Maynooth - all offer law degrees of very high standing.
The two private colleges of DBS and Griffith college also offer law degrees which will enable successful graduates to progress onto Kings Inns and Blackhall Place exams, if you so wish to go down the barrister or solicitor route.
As for whether the points will rise or fall this year, it’s hard to say but there are some indicators.
At this stage in the application process in 2018, 2,477 applicants had placed a law degree as their first choice option.
The equivalent figure for 2019 is 2,687 - an eight per cent increase in first choice applications.
These numbers suggest that law is proving very popular with applicants this year. As a result, CAO points requirements may rise, unless the colleges increase the numbers of places on offer to accommodate the increased demand for places.
As you are aware, this is not the final picture by any means. All applicants have until 1st July to change the order of course choices. Thousands of applicants have not yet entered course choices, so the final numbers for law applications will not be known until early July.
Your safest bet, therefore, is to fully research all the other law degree programmes in the Dublin region, if it is your wish to remain in the capital.
Prior to the 1st July deadline, utilise the full ten course options available to you online in your CAO application.
List them strictly in the order you want them, leaving UCD and Trinity as your first two choices if they remain your top choices.
By fully using the course choices available on your CAO application, you will ensure that in August you will have an offer on your screen when you turn on your computer at 2.00 pm on Thursday, 22nd August.
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