Democratic Representative Brendan Boyle has gone to great lengths to protect Irish interests during the Brexit negotiations, but what is the Philadelphia Congressman’s Irish connection?
Boyle, whose father is from Co Donegal, has never lost touch with his Irish roots and has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Irish immigrants – and all immigrants – in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Boyle’s father Francis emigrated from Co Donegal in 1970 – seven years before Boyle was born – and set up shop in Philadelphia where he worked as a janitor for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).
Boyle’s mother Eileen was the child of Irish immigrants from Co Sligo and worked as a crossing guard for the Philadelphia School District. Eileen Boyle passed away in 2013 at the age of 61.
Before formally entering politics, Boyle was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He attended the University of Notre Dame on a scholarship and later received his Master’s Degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
Brendan is not the only member of his family to pursue politics, however. His brother Kevin is a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where Brendan also served for six years.
Dad immigrated to America when he was 19. Spent the next 50 years working in a warehouse and as a custodian. This week he attended the swearing-in ceremonies of both of his sons. Both @RepKevinBoyle and I know we wouldn’t be where we are without his hard work & sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/7yXRkBjaFH
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) January 4, 2019
Since being elected to the US House of Representatives in 2014, Boyle has been guided by his distinct Irish roots, most notably in the recent Brexit negotiations as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
It is hardly surprising, given that Boyle is the only Representative with an Irish-born parent.
Boyle has used his place on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade agreements, to stand up for Ireland’s interests as Britain threatens the Good Friday Agreement by leaving the European Union without a deal.
— Rep. Brendan Boyle (@CongBoyle) September 30, 2020
The Irish American politician has appeared on several British news outlets to remind the British people that there will be no US-UK trade deal in the aftermath of Brexit if the British Government threatens the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is preserving a fairly fragile peace… I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would want to bring back this issue. It is truly staggering.”
Congressman Brendan Boyle expresses his concern over the UK’s Brexit plans and its effect on the Good Friday Agreement. pic.twitter.com/W1gJasarbP
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 10, 2020
He has consistently argued that the United States is a guarantor of the agreement and that it cannot let it come under threat as a result.
Boyle has always worked hard to protect the fragile peace in Northern Ireland since the end of the Troubles.
In 2019, he introduced legislation that doubled US funding in the International Fund for Ireland, an independent organization that supports economic regeneration and social development in areas affected by the Troubles.
“I advocated for increased funding for the International Fund for Ireland because their work has become increasingly important. Brexit will have significant consequences for the island of Ireland,” Boyle said at the time.
Boyle has also been an ardent defender of immigration and the American dream during his time in politics.
“For me, St. Patrick’s Day is an important reminder that we are a nation of immigrants and that our diversity is perhaps our greatest strength as a nation. In my home city of Philadelphia, 12% of the population was born outside of the United States. My father is one of them. He found his American Dream in the City of Brotherly Love,” Boyle said in an op-ed for IrishCentral in 2017.
Boyle’s efforts in promoting the Irish cause on Capitol Hill earned him the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal for 2020. Boyle was honored for his work in protecting the Good Friday Agreement and for his efforts in establishing a 1916 memorial on Capitol grounds.
“From my first day in the halls of Congress, I have made it a priority to use my position to address Irish-American issues and to further the U.S.-Ireland relationship,” Boyle said upon accepting the award.
Took a few days out to work on the family farm in Co Donegal Ireland. The consensus seems to be I better not quit my day job. pic.twitter.com/jQOS6tbPIA
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) July 8, 2019