Irish ambassador says U.S. must protect Northern Ireland's peace deal


Daniel Mulhall, the Irish ambassador to the U.S., says he would like to see the United Kingdom negotiate a trade deal with the European Union and the U.S. after officially leaving the EU. Mulhall spoke to CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast.

Mulhall noted that President Trump was also eager to make a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit. The UK is scheduled to leave the union on October 31.

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“I think the president has said repeatedly that he wants the U.S. to have a trade deal — a free trade agreement — with the UK following Brexit,” Mulhall said. “Let me be clear that we would also like to see the UK having a trade agreement with the U.S. and with the EU — and with everyone else — after Brexit because they’re our neighbors. And the better they do economically, the better it is for us.”

Mulhall said it was critical that any trade deal negotiated uphold the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 treaty between warring parties in Northern Ireland that ended decades of conflict there. 

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“What we, and we’ve said it, and the president has said to our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar — he has said that he understands the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement. And members of Congress, prominent members of Congress … have said that if there was to be a free trade agreement that undermined the Good Friday Agreement and damaged the peace process … it wouldn’t get through Congress,” Mulhall said.

The ambassador also talked about the increasingly liberal politics in Ireland, calling his country “a bastion of progressiveness and tolerance in Europe.”

“Seventeen percent of our population now is born outside of Ireland, which is extraordinary. And we have no, sort of, anti-immigrant sentiment in our country. We passed a referendum to approve marriage equality. We removed the constitutional ban on abortion there last year. We’ve liberalized our divorce laws. The county is open and very tolerant these days,” Mulhall said.

He also claimed that Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe without a prominent right-wing populist party in its government.

“We don’t have a right-wing populist party in Ireland. We’re one of the few countries in Europe who doesn’t have that. And that sort of a reflection, I think, of the fact that that the Irish still think of themselves as a nation of immigrants. Even though we now have a huge number of people in our country who are born outside of Ireland, we still think of ourselves, in our heads, as a nation of immigrants,” Mulhall said.

For more of Major’s conversation with Daniel Mulhall, download “The Takeout” podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5 p.m., 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET, and Saturday at 1 p.m., 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

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