October 3, 2017 / 11:08 PM / a year ago

Bombardier dispute risks Northern Irish peace, Ireland to tell U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Carbery Coveney attends informal meeting of European Union Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn, Estonia September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s foreign minister will raise Dublin’s concerns over the impact a trade dispute between the United States and Canada’s Bombardier could have on Northern Ireland’s peace process when he meets Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this week.

The U.S. government last week slapped a preliminary 220 percent tariff on the planemaker’s CSeries jets, which are partly made in Northern Ireland, potentially risking 4,200 jobs in the British province.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing employer and its political leaders have warned Washington that the security of the economy in Britain’s poorest region plays a crucial role in efforts to maintain peace.

Three decades of bloodshed between Catholic Irish nationalists, who want the province to unite with Ireland, and Protestant unionists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom, left 3,600 dead before peace was reached 20 years ago.

Washington played a key role in helping to strike the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, and the Irish foreign minister’s intervention will add to pressure from Belfast and London, where Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government relies on the support of Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party to govern.

“I will be outlining to him (Ross) the Irish government’s concern as to the potentially serious implications of a negative ruling for the Bombardier workforce in Belfast and for wider economic stability in Northern Ireland which is an essential support to the peace process,” Simon Coveney said in a statement ahead of his two-day trip to Washington.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin

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