Irish American Groups Push President Obama on BC Subpoenas

April 7th Denver, CO, & New York City

The leaders of the largest Irish-American groups in America released today a letter they sent President Obama advancing their 18 month fight against Britain’s subpoenas of records in Boston College’s Irish archives. Opposition to these subpoenas involves not only a two year legal battle and a Writ of Certiorari appeal currently before the Supreme Court but a political campaign featuring then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now Secretary of State John Kerry.

Brendan Moore, National President of the AOH stated: “A cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is that peace is built on justice; three ‘justice’ provisions were included and key to acceptance of the Treaty. Not only have those terms been undermined but Britain’s actions of late, like these subpoenas, have only given aid and comfort to dissidents and extremists.”

“Our appeals to Attorney General Holder and President Obama,” indicated Sean Downes, President of the Brehon Law Society, “seek respect for the rule of law and for treaty terms. Britain is misusing the U.S. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the Boston College subpoenas and has failed to hold the U.S. supported GFA public hearing obligation into attorney Finucane’s murder.”

The National President of the Irish-American Unity Conference, Thomas Burke Jr. explained: “We believe the peace accord and the justice it was intended to restore is gradually being eroded by the Cameron government. The IAUC and its coalition partners have brought this malicious mischief to the attention of the Department of State more than once. We now ask for President Obama’s leadership and a showing of public support for the Agreement’s critical ‘justice’ requirements.”

The coalition announced that Representative Robert Brady (PA) has joined the 21 Members of Congress that have expressed their opposition to the British subpoenas and A.G. Holders attempt to enforce them.

Attachment: Letter to President Barack Obama

April 7, 2013

President Barack Obama
Office of the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D. C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

Over the past 30 years America can point to few successes in the foreign policy arena like that of the 1998 Belfast or ‘Good Friday’ Agreements. They have taken the arms out of the Irish conflict and given hope to many here and in Ireland for peaceful political progress.

America’s role was at first opposed by our Department of State and the British Foreign Office. However, President Clinton’s determination and patience proved key to success as was the follow through and support of President Bush.

We are at another critical juncture in the Irish peace process where your leadership and that of Congress are needed.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement, a treaty registered with the United Nations, has been systematically undermined. The best single example of Britain’s disregard for the terms of the Agreement is the refusal to conduct the required public inquiry into the admitted murder of attorney Patrick Finucane in 1989 by a loyalist death squad aided by the police, British Army and MI-5.

This is emblematic of the failure of the British government to live up to its agreed responsibilities. Having successfully undermined this key provision and others, the Cameron government has now mischievously issued subpoenas for records held in the Burns Library of Boston College. Our coalition of the largest Irish-American organizations believes the subpoenas constitute a bad faith misuse of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The subpoenas were prompted by dissident loyalists and their Army and security force collaborators who, not coincidentally, are the very same group of people responsible for the homicide of Patrick Finucane.

We have asked that Attorney General Holder choose NOT to enforce the subpoenas originating from a government that, while admitting killing Finucane, will hold no one accountable. We have also asked Secretary of State Kerry, who has a consultative role with the Attorney General provided for in the MLAT, to request their withdrawal. We ask for your support of these efforts and public leadership in restoring the justice intended by the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The vision and leadership of your predecessors and the support of the American people broke a stalemate that brought us to a new moment in Ireland’s history. Forces are at work in Great Britain determined to turn back the clock. We ask that you not allow that to happen.

We would welcome an opportunity to meet with and further explain our concerns with whomever you might wish.


Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
Brehon Law Society

Mr. Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq.
National President
Irish American Unity Conference