House Hears Human Rights Issue

Aideen Gilmore testifying before the House Human Rights and Oversight Committee

At a September Congressional subcommittee hearing Aideen Gilmore, the Deputy Director of the Belfast based and highly respected Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) testified.  National FFAI Chairman, Sean Pender noted, We can not be lulled into the thought that the work in the North is over. Ms.Gilmore highlighted the fact that while there has been much progress in the North there are still many areas that need continued attention. She testified that many of the main components of the Good Friday agreement (GFA), such as a Bill of Rights have not been implemented; the challenge of dealing with the past has not been addressed as it was envisioned in the GFA.

Additionally, she added that the economic improvement that the North has seen has not resulted in improvements in many of the most deprived areas.  She cited recent economic studies published in March of 2010 that supported these statements.  It is troubling that these studies report that 16 of the 20 most deprived areas are Catholic.  More troubling is that the areas that had experienced the worst levels of violence are economically no better and in some cases worst off than they were during the troubles.  The concern here of course is that if these areas are not experiencing a peace dividend it could lead to disenchantment for the overall peace process.

Father Sean McManus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus rated the House Human Rights Hearing on Northern Ireland a great success. Fr. McManus noted that the witness on Northern Ireland, Aideen Gilmore was entirely excellent.  Ms Gilmore told the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, Chaired by Congressman Russ Carnahan (D.MO), While a lot of progress has undoubtedly been made in Northern Ireland … We would urge continued vigilance and support for the protection of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland as a means of embedding and sustaining peace.  Fr. Mc Manus praised Congressman Carnahan saying, He deserves great credit. Irish-Americans are deeply grateful for his support of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland.