Press Conference to Unveil the McGuinness Principles

On Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 6 to 8 PM at the Molloy College Suffolk Center, many Irish-American organizations are gathering for a press conference to unveil the McGuinness Principles, named after Martin McGuinness, the former Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland who dedicated his life so ardently for peace and freedom in Ireland.

April 10, 2018 is the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, when the people of Ireland overwhelmingly decided to pursue their struggle for their nation’s identity only through peaceful means. All of the parties to that historic accord made promises. Although the Good Friday Agreement has brought peace to Ireland for two decades, many promises have not been kept. To renege on promises in an international treaty is not only dishonorable, but dangerous to a peace process which has been admired around the world.

The McGuiness Principles will be discussed in detail at the meeting. They include equality, respect, truth, and self-determination. We will also stress the urgent need for the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Please come to this important meeting and invite all who care about peace and freedom in Ireland.

The Suffolk Campus is located at 7180 Republic Airport, Farmingdale, NY 11735 (just east of Route 110). For more information, call Brian O’Keefe, Nassau County Brehon Law Society, (516) 398-2471.

Ancient Order of Hibernians Call on President to Appoint Special Envoy

With Collapse of Talks in Northern Ireland, Ancient Order of Hibernians Calls on President Trump to Fulfill Pledge to Appoint Special Envoy

With the collapse today of talks seeking to restore the devolved Northern Ireland Government, the Ancient Order of Hibernians expressed their concern over the future of U.S. brokered Good Friday Agreement and renewed their calls for appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland

In a letter to President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson and members of Congress, AOH Political Education Chairman Neil Cosgrove writes:

“The statement made today by DUP leader Arlene Foster that there is no prospect that continued negotiations will lead to a restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government indicate that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the progress of the past twenty years are in dire peril.

For Ms. Foster and the DUP to raze the Northern Ireland government over the canard that an Irish Language Act is a “new demand” is unconscionable. The commitment to an Irish Language Act is stipulated in decades-old signed agreement and is another example of the DUP’s failure to act in good faith. The intransigence of the DUP to enact an Irish language act is a renunciation of their Good Friday obligation to act with “mutual respect for the identity and ethos of both communities and parity of esteem”. The DUP should no longer be enabled in their cynical attempts to reverse the roles of victim and offender by attacking those who seek nothing more than the fulfillment of their previous commitments.

The refusal of the DUP to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he attempted to aid in negotiations is an arrogant repudiation of the Republic of Ireland as co-signer and partner in the Good Friday Agreement. That the DUP again demonstrated that they possess a veto over Prime Minister May’s Northern Ireland policy decisions highlights the absurdity that the British Government can simultaneously honor its GFA commitment to act with “rigorous impartiality” in Northern Ireland while dependent on ten DUP seats to cling to power.

The Good Friday Agreement was a landmark in U.S. Diplomacy; the devolved, power-sharing government of Northern Ireland a milestone achievement. A return to direct rule from Westminster coupled with the prospect of a Brexit “hard border” will do incalculable damage to the Good Friday Agreement and the twenty years of peace it has engendered. Good Friday was only made possible when the U.S. signaled its interest in Northern Ireland by appointing a capable Special Envoy in the person of Senator George Mitchell. It is time for the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to a lasting peace with justice in Northern Ireland. In September 2017, President Trump committed to appointing a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland; the AOH reminds the president of his pledge and asks him to honor it before the Good Friday Agreement is irretrievably undermined”

(note this article originally appeared on the National AOH Web Site)

Americans Mobilize to Monitor UK-BREXIT Impact on Ireland

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L to R Dan Dennehy, Member National Board AOH; Steve McCabe Esq. Brehon Law Society; Ned McGinley, former National President of the AOH; Brendan Moore, former National President of the AOH; Sean Hood, Nassau County AOH; Mike Cummings; Peter Kissel Esq. from D. C. , National Board, IAUC; Leslie Cassidy, Brehon Law Society; Neil Ferguson, National Board, AOH; Sean Downes, President of the NYC Brehon Law Society; Hugh O’Lunney, 1916 Societies; Tom Corcoran Esq. Brehon Law Philadelphia; John Dearie Esq. former Member of the NYS Assembly

Attorney John Dearie hosted a meeting of Irish-American activists to discuss British BREXIT plans which might harm Ireland’s economy and the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

Said Dearie: “It is premature to speculate on just what course the British will be taking over the next two years. It is also unclear why Britain, with the world’s 6th largest economy, requires any special consideration from the U. S. responding to the democratic mandate of the British people. But there are those in Washington who need to be reminded that Ireland also has a special relationship with the U. S.”

Former National AOH President Brendan Moore explained: “ The goal is to insure that Ireland …as a whole…is not harmed by BREXIT and for Irish Americans to be prepared, if necessary, to disagree with the Irish and British governments on the form of any US initiative to assist.” Stated Peter Kissel Esq. from D. C. representing the IAUC : “It is imperative that dialogue begin now with the Dept. of State and Congress on potential BREXIT impact on the whole of Ireland and in particular the Belfast Agreement obligations.” The President of the NYC Brehon Law Society, Sean Downes, emphasized the importance of listening to the voices of those most likely to be negatively impacted by BREXIT and to give due recognition to the democratic vote in NI to remain in the EU.

Dearie concluded: “If it is deemed in America’s interest to assist the UK with new trade deals , American’s need to be prepared to present our concerns to the White House and to key Members of Congress involved in foreign policy. This meeting was a first step.” Billy Tranghese was included by conference call representing Representative Richard Neal .

Those who share this concern and who wish to be a part of this dialogue are asked to contact the Law Offices of John Dearie at 1-800-2-Dearie or send an e-mail to castlecomer@gmail.com. Similar meetings in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D. C. are planned as the new Administration and Congress begin their work in the New Year.

Join the AOH Christmas Appeal to Help Secure Freedom, Justice

Clara Reilly 2011 Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award winner with Sean Pender, Mike Redmond and Mike Glass.

As boards and divisions continue to consider their contributions to the annual Freedom for All Ireland Christmas appeal, I would like to present a speech I made recently regarding Relatives for Justice. It is my hope that it will convey to you the importance of the work that we support with our appeal:

It was almost 10 years ago that I first met Mark Thompson, Clara Reilly and the staff of Relatives for Justice (RFJ) in their Falls Road office in West Belfast. In that time I have learned about the hundreds of families that they have helped in their quest for justice. I have had the honor to personally meet dozens of these families and learn firsthand of their quest for justice. I have been in awe of the staff of RFJ and inspired by their determination to fight for truth and justice. Often faced with what would seem insurmountable odds, they labor on, for they have the truth as their most valuable asset on their side.

Through my work with the AOH I have rallied support for RFJ at the local, state and national levels. The AOH has helped with our donations and our voices; We have told their story in meeting halls, conventions and to our elected officials both locally and in the halls of Congress.

Dealing with the past in a transparent and truthful way is a remaining challenge of not only the Good Friday agreement but a key component of the transition of a society from post conflict to true, lasting peace. It is the difference of defining a fragile peace as a lack of war to a lasting sustainable peace for equals.

RFJ’s quest is for justice for those families still seeking truth. Unfortunately, that quest for justice and truth has been often delayed, deferred, postponed and put off by the existing systems that are in place in the North of Ireland. For the truth to emerge, the vehicle that will provide the process must be free from the prejudices of the British government and her henchmen disguised as civil service employees in offices that they still influence. Britain has had its opportunity to address the past but it has failed terribly. Justice — even when it has been achieved — takes not months or years but generations.

Ignoring the issues is no longer an option. Britain must acknowledge what it has done, admit what it has done and apologize to those it has harmed.

It is my hope that the recent awarding of the 2011 AOH Sean MacBride Humanitarian award to Clara Reilly, chairperson and founding member of Relatives for Justice and a woman who for 40 years has been the backbone of the civil and human rights movement for the people of the North, will continue to highlight the critical importance of truth recovery in North of Ireland. RFJ has proven to be a true broker for peace and justice in the North. They have supported families regardless of their religion or political affiliation. RFJ does not believe in a hierarchy of victims, they believe that we cannot let those who seek the truth be left behind.

Their important work is often threatened and impeded by the subtle forms of discrimination that still exist in the North. A new building that RFJ desperately needs to serve the communities they support sits available and vacant but funding and support is held up by bigots disguised as bureaucrats. Funding is often tenuous with workers having to be laid off while new funding is searched for. But through all of this, they preserve and thrive.

If we do not address the past then the truth will be the last victim of the troubles, and there will not be a strong foundation for the future. The future cannot be built on the lies of the past. A foundation of truth can be the only hope for the future. The work of RFJ will help cement the future of all people in the North.

Notes:

On October 14th, only three days after the cowardly British prime minister David Cameron reneged on his government’s commitments to the family of Pat Finucane, Geraldine Finucane, Pat’s widow, issued the following statement: “The world is now aware that my family and I were invited by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street earlier this week to hear his decision on the holding of an inquiry into the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. Even now, days after the event, we still feel humiliated and insulted by the ordeal we were made to endure … We cannot be expected to take the British Prime Minister’s word that it will be effective when he is reneging on a Government commitment in order to establish it. His actions prove beyond doubt that the word of British Prime Minister is not to be trusted. The case of Pat Finucane shows that British Prime Ministers no longer keep their promises.”

Geraldine Finucane has for over 20 years strived for justice and truth in the murder of her husband. Cameron’s actions and mistreatment of the Finucane family serve as a perfect example of why we still need to be cognizant of the issues that still affect the North of Ireland.

Congratulations to Dan Dennehy for hosting such a wonderful, first-class fundraising event in Manhattan to support RFJ and the Christmas Appeal.

***

Dan Dennehy, NYS FFAI Chairman, reports that the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant was a tremendous success. Co-hosted by the Brehon Law Society of NY and with the dramatic views of Manahan skyline and The Brooklyn Bridge, the event was a lively evening of music provided by AOH members Sean Griffin and Stephen Gara, excellent food and great guest speakers.

Among those who presented a contemporary view of the issues in Northern Ireland were National Vice President Brendan Moore, National FFAI Sean Pender, Steve McCabe and General Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society. Many Hibernians, including Brian Kelly, NYS Director, Aidan O’Kelly Lynch, President of the AOH Peekskill participated in the event as well as National Director Jere Cole and Mike Carroll of the Brehon Law Society.

The highlight was a  moving speech by 2011 AOH Sean McBride Award winner Clara Reilly of Relatives for Justice, who was presented with a $2,000 check from the NYS Board as part of their Christmas Appeal Fundraiser proceeds. Dan Dennehy said, “The Brehons have helped make this event a complete success, and we are excited by the prospect to working with them on many more efforts and causes in the future.”

Clara Reilly and daughter Colleen with NY and NJ AOH members at NYS AOH fundraiser; chaired by Dan Dennehy.

Dan Dennehy, Mike Glass, Mike Redmond, Colleen Reilly, Jere Cole, Clara Reilly and Sean Pender at the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant.

 

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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.

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Michael Collins

I’m absolutely delighted to be here today at the 2010 Biennial National Conference of the AOH and the LAOH.  I want to thank your National President and our good friend Seamus Boyle for inviting me here.  Our Consul General in Chicago will also be with you during these days.  I would like also to salute and acknowledge the presence of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Despite its long history and early beginnings, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is an integral part of Irish America.  Although the challenges we face are new and ever changing, the Order has an importance today just as it had 174 years ago.  The roots of this organisation can be traced back to some of the darkest hours in Irish history – A time when freedom was more an idea than a reality.  Today our country is at peace and our fortunes greatly improved, but the work of this Order goes on, particular on this side of the Atlantic.

We salute you for your commitment and support of Ireland.  I particularly applaud the solidarity of the AOH with the Bloody Sunday families.  You have long supported the families and survivors of Bloody Sunday and rightfully share in their joy that those who died and were injured were innocent. The Saville Report on 15 June makes clear that the shootings by the British Army that day were “unjustified and unjustifiable”. Thus, for the families and after 38 years, the gaping wound of the injustice wrought by the Widgery Report was healed.

AOH involvement in education programs to ensure a greater appreciation of Ireland’s National heritage is a welcome priority. I was delighted to present at the awards last year at the National History Day.

The Good Friday Agreement is the bedrock of the precious peace that Ireland enjoys today.  Its great strength derives from its endorsement by the people North and South.  The recent election results in Northern Ireland were a ringing endorsement for those wanting to work together in the devolved institutions for the benefit of all the people.  We now have a unique opportunity to build sustained peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland. Today, Northern Ireland enjoys partnership Government and the various institutional structures of the Agreement are all in effect.

There has been a transformation of relations on the island of Ireland and also between Britain and Ireland.  The Taoiseach met with Prime Minister Cameron on 23 June at which the PM confirmed that the British Government was fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement.  Just last Monday there was a meeting in Dublin of the North South Ministerial Council chaired by the Taoiseach and the First and deputy First Minister. The Council is a vital part of the Good Friday Agreement architecture and provides the forum for Ministerial colleagues from North and South to address the key issues of the moment. And on Monday obviously the economic challenges that we all face were centre stage.

The devolution of Policing and Justice earlier this year marks an important milestone in fulfilling the full vision of the Good Friday Agreement. Ten years on from the Patten Report the responsibility and authority for policing and justice are now where they ought to be – at local level, accountable to and operating for the benefit of all the community.

There remain those who refuse to accept the will of the people. We deplore the acts of these dissidents and we are committed North and South to defeating them.  The work of reconciliation is a generational task. I welcome the ongoing support of the U.S. in helping us to underpin peace in Ireland, including through the International Fund for Ireland.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that Ireland has challenges of its own right now. Ireland, like most countries, has gone through a period of economic turbulence. However, the Government has taken the hard decisions necessary to deal with the effects of the global economic and financial crisis by stabilising our public finances, repairing our banking system and cutting costs to boost competitiveness. We are pursuing a detailed and well-planned strategy to ensure our economic recovery into the future.  It is evident that we are living through tough and difficult times, but we are meeting challenges head on and we will emerge stronger than before.  The U.S. is a key economic partner and foreign direct investment from here is vital to our economy.  But our economic relationship is also now a two way one reflecting the increasing investment by Irish companies in the U.S.  The Farmleigh Global Irish Economic Forum last September was an important initiative of the Irish Government to engage with our global family in a new and modern way. It has proven to be very successful.  We have also been engaged in a strategic review of our relationship and last year published the result of that review entitled “Ireland and America – Challenges and Opportunities in a new context”.

We say this is the year to come home to Ireland.  Tourism from the U.S. is very important to us.  I welcome the comments made by President Obama last Thursday in which he called for renewed efforts in establishing comprehensive immigration reform. The President stated it was time to “squarely confront our challenges with honesty and determination”. I would like to acknowledge the work and support of the AOH in this area. It is very important for our undocumented that this issue is resolved.  It is also important for us that we secure future flows through what we call the E3 programme.

I want to thank the Ancient Order of Hibernians for their work and their friendship. In you we have a formidable partner, and with you at our side we know that Ireland, and its people, will continue to flourish both at home and abroad.

Thank you.

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