Irish groups vow to fight Boston College IRA interviews fight to stop NI police access

Irish groups vow to fight Boston College IRA interviews fight to stop NI police access
US Supreme Court rejects appeal to keep IRA tapes from being turned over to Northern Ireland authorities
By CAHIR O’DOHERTY, Irish Voice Reporter
Irish Voice
Friday, April 19, 2013

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal to keep secret interviews with former Irish Republican Army members from being turned over to police authorities in Northern Ireland.

The court’s move leaves in place a lower court ruling ordering Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of interviews recorded with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price.

Price, 61, who died in January, was interviewed with other former IRA members between 2001 and 2006 as part of the Belfast Project, a Boston College oral history study that was created to be a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying The Troubles.

But now federal officials want to forward the secret recordings to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), who are investigating the IRA’s 1972 killing of Belfast widow Jean McConville.

Researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, who had assured their subjects that their interviews would remain secret until after their deaths, are now arguing that the participants’ lives could be endangered if their identities are publicly revealed because they could potentially be branded as informers.

Attorney Eamonn Doran is representing Moloney and McIntyre, the director and lead researcher respectively of the Belfast Project, in their challenge of the decision by U.S. authorities to subpoena the records.

“I was brought on board when Ed and Anthony decided Boston College’s defense against the two subpoenas issued by the Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t robust enough. They decided to make their own representations,” Dornan told the Irish Voice.

Monday’s Supreme Court refusal to hear Moloney and McIntyre’s appeal has potentially disastrous consequences which has lead to Irish American groups sounding the alarm, Dornan said.

“Numerous warnings have been given to the Department of Justice and the State Department by the AOH, the Brehon Law Society and the Irish American Unity Conference. Each is seriously concerned that the release of these materials, particularly at this time, may have a detrimental effect on the peace process,” Dornan said.

“We don’t know who’s pushing for these records to be released because we can’t see who issued the subpoena, or what the nature of the request is. We suspect it must be the PSNI. The question is who in their right mind is driving this request for information, which would have a detrimental effect on a fragile enough peace?”

Last year a U.S. appeals court in Boston found that Moloney and McIntyre had no right to interfere with the police request under the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and the U.K. that requires the two to aid each other’s criminal investigations. The appeals court insisted that criminal investigations must take precedence over academic study.

Brendan Moore, the National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, told the Irish Voice, “It’s obviously an egregious application of the MLAT. It’s undermining academic enquiry in this country. Clearly it’s also a fishing expedition on the part of the PSNI. They’re looking for people to be implicated. It’s also most unfortunate in terms of international relations. I think we are all under threat if treaties are going to be twisted in this way.”

But Moore calls Monday’s ruling a major setback, not a defeat. “There is a coalition between the AOH, the Brehon Law Society and the Irish American Unity Conference. We are all pledged to continue the fight. We do believe we have the support of Secretary of State John Kerry and influential members of Congress,” Moore said.

Dornan sees a practical solution to the crisis, if all parties have the wisdom to reach for it. “It’s still within the remit of the Department of Justice and the State Department to stop the transfer of these materials. The question is now in the political court,” he said.

Irish Groups Vow to Continue Fight Over British Subpoenas of Boston College Archives

Irish Groups Vow to Continue Fight Over British Subpoenas of Boston College Archives
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
April 16th

NY, NY & Denver, CO On Monday the Certiorari appeal to review the Boston College subpoena case brought by Belfast Project founders Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre was denied.

This litigation has highlighted significant issues of constitutional importance related to the conduct of academic inquiry and journalistic freedom.

Important as these issues are there are underlying political issues raised by Britain’s misuse of the U. S.-U. K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).

National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Brendan Moore stated:

“This is not the end of this matter. We have lodged appeals to Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Kerry and with President Obama. We believe America is being used in this case and we are being asked to ignore our values of justice and democracy in doing so.”

The President of the Brehon Law Society, Sean Downes stated:

“This decision is a disappointment but not unexpected. We believe the action we are seeking is within the power of the Attorney General to grant. We ask once again for a full review of the reasons we cited he can use to deny these subpoenas. We urge also that he seek again the opinion of the new Secretary of State John Kerry as he is obligated to do under the MLAT.”

Denver attorney Thomas Burke, National President of the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC) observed:

“We have advocated that President Obama to delay any action on these subpoenas until the opposition of key Members of Congress including the Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, Senator Robert Menendez can be addressed. We trust the voices of twenty one Members of Congress will be responded to and not be ignored.”

Irish American Groups Push President Obama on BC Subpoenas

IRISH-AMERICAN GROUPS PUSH PRESIDENT OBAMA ON B. C. SUBPOENAS & JUSTICE TERMS OF GFA
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
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.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

“Do the right thing”, Irish American Coalition asks Secretary of State Kerry

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

March 20, 2013

Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
Office of the Secretary
U. S. State Department
2201 C Street, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, D. C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We are following up on our previous letter of February 7th in which we seek an opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns with British government misuse of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in the case of the Boston College subpoenas. You will recall that in our conference call in January, 2012, you indicated you spoke with the Attorney General who at the time assured you that no documents secured as a result of the subpoenas would be turned over to England without him first speaking with you. Mr. Holder has chosen not to communicate at all on this matter except to indicate through subordinates that the matter is currently in litigation.

Now as Secretary of State you have the duty, the statutory obligation, to consult with Attorney General Holder if you have concerns about those subpoenas that would compromise American values and undermine those U.S. policies in support of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. You indicated as much in your letter to former Secretary Clinton. However, you had the additional experience of listening to British representatives assure the U.S. Senate during ratification of the U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty that it was not their objective to pursue prosecutions pre-1998. This combined with their failure to comply with the Treaty obligation to provide a public inquiry into their admitted murder of attorney Patrick Finucane renders the credibility of the United Kingdom in this matter untrustworthy.

This is an American issue where our laws are being violated and our policies being undermined. We feel we have time and again identified the specific ways in which this is being done but would be willing to sit down again to make those arguments. The British government has publicly claimed in NYC that it had nothing to do with the subpoenas but the Home Office processed them. Home Secretary May is fully aware that the instigator of the request is a former Royal Ulster Constabulary commander with links to the much discredited Special Branch and to MI-5, the service that admittedly was involved in the conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane. Isn’t anyone in the Department of State connecting the dots?? Isn’t it enough that the subpoena request has NOTHING to do with the purposes of MLAT as explained by Ms. Warlow of your Department to the Senate during that treaty’s adoption?

We deeply appreciate the principled stand that you took in opposing these subpoenas not alone as a misuse of MLAT but for the threats posed to academic integrity and to constitutional freedoms. Everything that has been learned about these scurrilous subpoenas since has confirmed your worst fears! We ask again that you take the necessary action to affirm America’s support for the Irish peace process, to uphold the MLAT obligations of a Secretary of State and to not compromise our values of justice and respect for the rule of law.

We stand at the ready to meet with you and your staff at any time to insure that the U.S. “does the right thing.”

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

 

Irish American Coalition to House Committee on Foreign Affairs: Hold Hearings Now

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

March 21, 2013

Honorable Chris Smith
House of Representatives
2373 RHOB
Washington, D. C. 20515

Dear Representative Smith:

We have sent a number of letters to you in the past 9 months regarding our concerns for Britain’s misuse of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty for a political fishing expedition in the Irish archives of Boston College. Although we have had several conversations with Mark Milosch on this matter and the issue of Britain’s undermining of the ‘justice’ provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, we have yet to receive a response to our request. We have recently learned that you may be considering the conduct of a hearing on such matters. This would be a welcome circumstance which we would like to know more about.

As we have noted in previous correspondence and commentary both mailed and faxed to your offices, there are four issues relating to the Agreement that a congressional hearing might shed some light on. They are:

  • England’s failure to provide complete records to the Irish government on the British Army role in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings;
  • Britain’s refusal to provide a public hearing on the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane;
  • the British corruption of the HET process which was to review the killing of over 800 Catholics; and
  • the continued internment of Marian Price and the abuse of her human rights and corruption of law to keep her in custody.

Not content with shredding these provisions for which they have not been held to account, Her Majesty’s government has sought Attorney General Holder’s assistance in enforcing subpoenas requiring documents from the Irish archives of Boston College. This mischievous initiative is prompted by the same security forces that killed Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.

American involvement in the crafting of the Irish peace pact is gradually being eroded and a mockery is being made of the tireless efforts of two Presidents’ to insure that U.S. resources helped to tangibly express that commitment.

We believe these topics should be the focus of a full House Foreign Affairs Committee and formally conducted with invitations to both the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic as well as to organizations like ours to attend and/or give testimony. A suitable time frame to allow for travel would also be appropriate.

To this end we are copying Chairman Royce and Ranking Minority Member Eliot Engel as well the Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe Senator Benjamin Cardin with whom you also serve. We would like to sit down to further discuss not only the merits of such an investigation but the logistics of insuring that all voices are heard and that the testimony and documentation is provided in full in the Congressional Record.

Thank you for your past efforts to expose some of the injustices of the conflict in Ireland. We look forward to working with you to conduct the most inclusive and productive inquiry into the 1998 Belfast Agreement and American support.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

 

 

Irish American Coalition letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez: Congressional Hearings Needed Now

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

March 21, 2013

Honorable Robert Menendez
Member, U. S. Senator for New Jersey
Washington, D. C. 20510

Dear Senator Menendez:

We have sent a number of letters to you in the past 9 months regarding our concerns for Britain’s misuse of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) for a political fishing expedition in the Irish archives of Boston College. We have also raised the issue of the British government undermining the ‘justice’ provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. Your letter to Secretary of State Clinton last year was most welcome in regard to these matters but there still has been no resolution or exposure of these issues. We seek your assistance in two ways. First, as we indicated in our previous letter, we trust you will send to Secretary of State John Kerry a letter similar to the one you sent to Secretary Clinton. We are not taking for granted his support in the past on this issue. While the merits of the issue are as strong as ever, he now has a President to report to who may have differing priorities.

Secondly, we have noted in previous correspondence and commentary both mailed and faxed to your offices, there are four ‘justice’ issues relating to the Agreement on which a congressional hearing might shed some light. They are:

• England’s failure to provide complete records to the Irish government on the British Army role in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings;
• Britain’s refusal to provide a public hearing on the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane;
• the British corruption of the HET process which was to review the killing of over 800 Catholics; and
• the continued internment of Marian Price, Martin Corey and others, the abuse of their human rights and the corruption of law to keep them imprisoned.

Not content with shredding the above peace pact provisions, England has now enlisted the U. S. government to undermine the accord; a unique success story for American foreign policy. The mischievous Boston College subpoenas initiative is prompted by the same security forces that killed Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. As a result, the tireless efforts of two Presidents’ to insure that U. S. resolve and resources fortified that commitment are being mocked.

We believe these topics should be the focus of a hearing by the Foreign Relations Committee and would welcome the opportunity to amplify the justification for doing so. We would hope that such a hearing would invite testimony from the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic as well as invite organizations like ours to attend and/or give testimony. A suitable time frame to allow for travel would also be appropriate.

We would like to sit down to further discuss not only the merits of such an investigation but the logistics of insuring that all voices are heard and that the resulting testimony and documentation is provided in full in the Congressional Record.

Thank you for your past efforts to expose some of the injustices of the conflict in Ireland. We look forward to working with you to conduct the most inclusive and productive inquiry into the 1998 Belfast Agreement and its American support.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

Lawyers Appeal to Attorney General Holder on Boston College subpoena case

LAWYERS MAKE ST. PATRICK’S DAY APPEAL TO ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER; FINUCANE STIRS CONSCIENCE OF NATION
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
March 18th
NYC, Wash, D. C., Denver & Boston

Lawyers long experienced with the Irish conflict made a dramatic St Patrick’s Day appeal to U. S. Attorney General Holder to re-examine Britain’s use of a U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in light of the its failure to conduct a public inquiry into the murder of civil and human rights attorney Patrick Finucane. The public hearing was a legal obligation stipulated in the 1998 Irish peace pact (the Good Friday Agreement), a Treaty registered with the United Nations.

Mr. Brendan Moore, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians explained: “The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of a nation founded on the principle of the rule of law. It cannot be business as usual with the United Kingdom whose public record of lying and lawlessness has left generations of Catholics living in N.I. without truth or justice.”

“American support for the Irish peace process,” stated Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq., National President of the Irish American Unity Conference, “has been mocked by Britain’s ignoring the justice provisions of the pact which also included obligations on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings by members of the British Army and a re-examination of the murders of 800 Catholics for police and security forces collusion. What kind of message do we send to other nations when we give a pass to England on its Treaty obligations?

Stated Sean Downes, President of the Brehon Law Society: “Attorney General Holder must act as the conscience of the country and weigh the failures of Britain in the Finucane inquiry with their demands in other areas e.g. processing their subpoenas to conduct a political fishing expedition into the Irish archives of Boston College.”


ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

March 17, 2013

Honorable Eric H. Holder Jr.
Attorney General
U. S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Rm. 5115
Washington, D. C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

This letter is to call your attention to a matter of deep concern to us as lawyers, which we believe should be considered as the Justice Department processes subpoenas issued to Boston College for records contained in its Irish archives. The subpoenas have been requested by Britain under the terms of the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”). The issue of the validity of the subpoenas is currently in litigation and the subject of a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Sup. Ct. No. No. 12-627.

In particular, in considering its position with respect to the subpoenas, we believe that the Justice Department must take into account that the requesting nation has steadfastly refused to conduct a public inquiry into the murder of civil rights lawyer Patrick Finucane, contrary to the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement between Ireland and the U.K. As you are undoubtedly aware, Mr. Finucane was assassinated in 1989, in front of his family during Sunday dinner, in an attempt to intimidate those who may seek justice from the government of the U.K. Many of us worked with Patrick, and many others were familiar with his exemplary work defending clients in his position as an officer of Her Majesty’s court in Northern Ireland. British Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that the police, military and intelligence services all conspired to murder Mr. Finucane. Yet, in October 2011, Mr. Cameron inexplicably informed Mr. Finucane’s widow and family that the U.K. government would not conduct a public inquiry into his murder. We believe this refusal was and remains in violation of the Good Friday Agreement and the terms of the Weston Park Agreement.

As you perform your statutory duties and fulfill your obligations under the MLAT, we urge that you weigh carefully the questionable conduct of Great Britain unilaterally deciding to not meet its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. This raises a serious concern as to whether this was done to insure that those responsible would not be held accountable for Mr. Finucane’s murder.

We appeal to you not only as our country’s chief law enforcement officer but also as a lawyer who shares with us a deep commitment to civil rights, justice, and due process of law. We ask that you ensure that the U.S. judicial process not be used to actively aid a nation which will not hold accountable the murderers of an officer of the court . We hope that you will follow the views of Secretary of State John Kerry on the importance of avoiding the U.K.’s abuse of the MLAT in the Boston College subpoena case.

Respectfully yours,

Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq. CO
National President
IAUC

Francis Boyle Esq., Professor ILL
School of Law
University of Illinois

James J. Cotter III Esq. MA

James P. Cullen Esq. NY
Brigadier General JAG (Retired)

John Dearie Esq. NY
Former Member
NYS Assembly

Sean J. Downes Esq. President
Brehon Law Society

Albert Doyle Esq. FL
Former Counsel
Texaco

Robert Dunne Esq. NY
Past President
Brehon Law Society

John Philip Foley Esq. MA

Thomas Fox Esq. NY

Martin Galvin Esq. NY
AOH Div. #5 President Bx

Martin Glennon Esq. NY

Peter Kissel Esq. MD
Chair, Human Rights, IAUC

Thomas A. Lambert Esq. NY
President, AOH Div. #1, Erie CO

Richard Lawler Esq. CT
Vice-Chair
Irish Northern Aid Committee

Edmund E. Lynch Esq. MD
Chairman
Lawyers Alliance for Justice

Stephen McCabe NY
Member, Brehon Law Society

Edward G. McCormick Esq. MA

William McNally Esq. MA

L. James Miller Esq. MA

Sean P. Moynihan Esq. MA

Jessica O’Kane Esq., MD
Member, Brehon Law Society

Judge Andrew L. Somers Esq. Retired WI
Past National President, IAUC

Patrick Sturdy Esq. MI
National Counsel, AOH

Sinn Fein leader in SouthCoast with vow of non-violence

Sinn Fein leader in SouthCoast with vow of non-violence
Steve Urbon column
South Coast Today
March 16, 2013

Ireland’s Sinn Fein leading member Pat Doherty speaks to Normandin Middle School eighth-graders about the struggle for Northern Irland’s independence.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend, with the usual green beer, drinking songs, clovers and corned beef and cabbage. This year, however, we’ve had an added wrinkle: a guest talk by a ranking member of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

Pat Doherty, a former Sinn Fein vice president and a current member of the British Parliament, stopped by the Normandin Middle School in New Bedford on Friday, invited by history teacher and Irish native Chris Donnelly.

Before him sat about 70 students, many of them equipped with note cards with questions for the man.

Doherty, who is in his late 60s with not a gray hair on his head, gave a soft-spoken presentation about the epic, tortured history of Ireland’s relationship with Great Britain.

“It’s hard to explain 800 years of history in 30 seconds,” he joked. Then he did his best, and the students did their best to follow him.

Suffice it to say that after decades of bloody struggle between Catholics and Protestants, between Ireland and England, the parties have settled down under a complex arrangement of government and relationships called the Good Friday Accords.

That’s because they were signed on Good Friday in 1998, after negotiations led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, sent there by President Bill Clinton.

Doherty, though, made it clear that although the parties, including the IRA, have renounced violence, Sinn Fein will continue to push for reunification of Ireland and the peaceful expulsion of the British from Northern Ireland.

He had been asked what one thing he would like to change and he said it was that. “I’d have a united Ireland tomorrow morning,” he said. “It’s what the people want.”

Again and again Doherty spoke of the importance of a peaceful transition. I have to wonder whether the students in that library assembly had any inkling of how ugly it was in Ireland for so many years.

In any case, at one point Doherty, in an answer to a question from yours truly, said “The huge advantage is now we have a democracy and it is peaceful. There is no argument, no need, no demand for there to be armed conflict anymore.”

My question, however, was about a problem with the past possibly re-emerging in the future, a problem of reopening old wounds and settling old scores.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland, which replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary, wants Boston College to release the interviews of some of the people interviewed for its oral history project on “The Troubles.”

IRA members and others involved or affected by the violence were interviewed under the promise that their testimony would be kept a total secret until they die.

Doherty said softly: “I think the people who took part in this historical project, I actually think they were foolish to believe a promise they couldn’t keep.”

The U.S. has taken Ireland’s side in the dispute, which is still in the courts. Anything could happen. “God knows where it will take us,” he said. That’s when he again renounced violence.

“We still have a way to go,” he said.

A final note: Pat Doherty will speak this evening at the annual Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner dance at White’s of Westport. Contact organizer Chris Donnelly at 508-320-8388 for ticket information.

Ireland’s peace not yet complete

Ireland’s peace not yet complete
By Sean V. Hughes, Ancient Order of Hibernians
The Hill’s Congress Blog
The Hill
03/13/13

For more than a decade we observed a number of Irish Leaders from all political parties at the annual gathering at the White House to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This year President Obama will continue to do what President Bush and President Clinton did by taking a picture with a bowl of shamrocks and telling the world that this is an example of what peace looks like. However, they omit that the peace progress from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement has somewhat stalled.

The Good Friday Agreement has yet to be fully implemented on both sides. For example the Good Friday Agreement specifically says “all parties will recognize the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland”. However, when the majority of the Belfast City Council voted 29-21 on December 3, 2012 in favor to lower the Union Jack, with the exception of 17 holidays to be in compliance with all other British controlled buildings the unionists rioted and continued to do so for months. The multiple riots injured a number of police officers, staffers and caused hundreds of dollars of property damage during their protests. Members of the city council who took that courageous vote were barricaded in their office for hours for safety at the completion of the session. Additionally, very few if any arrests occurred.

Boston College was chosen as an archive for the “troubles” and now holds oral history stories from the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force of how each side handled numerous situations. All of these interviews were obtained with a promise to those who were being interviewed that what was said would not be turned over until after their deaths.

However, when the British government became aware of these interviews and asked the U.S. Attorney General Holder to subpoena Boston College to obtain some of the interviews, the Justice Department obliged. The subpoena requested information concerning only two former PIRA members, no UVF members. Many people believe this is a first step by the British government to open an investigation into the men and women who have disappeared during the “troubles.”

This issue has gone through the Federal Courts and is now waiting to be argued at the United States Supreme Court this spring.

Thankfully, a number of members including: Sens. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Cardin (D-Md.), Casey (D-Pa.), Reps. Pascrell (D-N.J.), Pallone (D-N.J.) Crowley (D-N.Y.), Neal (D-Mass.), Doyle (R-Pa.), Sires (D-N.J.), Murphy (R-Pa.), and former Sens. Brown (R-Mass.), Kerry (D-Mass.), Former Reps. Critz (D-Pa.) and Rothman (D-N.J.) all sent letters to then Secretary Clinton asking her to review the request by the British government and consider the strong impact this will have on the already shaky peace process in Northern Ireland.

There is a grass-roots effort by Irish-Americans who have successfully convinced several legislative bodies, including the city councils of San Francisco, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Syracuse, N.Y., to pass a resolution encouraging the English and Irish governments to take immediate action to fulfill the agreement. This effort also requests the Irish government to do an economic analysis of a united Ireland, outline steps to restore the Irish nation and publicly report its findings and plans.

These resolutions respectfully suggest the Irish government move, without delay, to further the peaceful healing of the Irish nation by granting “speaking rights” to duly elected Northern members in the Irish Parliament and expanding the voting rights for the Irish president to the citizens of the six counties of Northern Ireland.

It has been almost 15 years that the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated by former Senator George Mitchell and agreed upon by all parties. A lot has been accomplished working toward peace; however, there still is a lot of work to be done to accomplish peace by both the Irish and British Governments. Hopefully, when future presidents partake in the ceremonial bowl of shamrock photo on St. Patrick’s Day the president can say “This is a true picture of equal rights, leadership, justice and hard work that led to peaceful resolution that the world will follow and use as their example.”

Hughes is an officer for the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which is the largest Irish Catholic Fraternity in the United States.

 

Leaders renew assault against BC subpoenas

Leaders renew assault against BC subpoenas
IN NEWS & VIEWS
By Irish Echo Staff
Irish Echo
FEBRUARY 13, 2013

The leaders of three main Irish American organizations have renewed their offensive against the U.S. Justice Department subpoenas aimed at the Boston College Troubles archive.

The two year battle has involved a challenge by the Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre against what they and the organizations say is the misuse of the U.S-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Unity Conference and Brehon Law Society further point to twenty members of Congress “who not only share their concern, but question Britain’s commitment to the Irish peace process.”

Said the groups in a statement: The confirmation of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State and the elevation of Senator Robert Menendez to chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two who have opposed the subpoenas, has given new strength to the cause.

“These leaders, Kerry & Menendez,” stated National President of the AOH, Brendan Moore, “have shown a willingness to listen to our arguments and to test our sincerity

and credibility. When presented with documentation regarding threats to the Irish peace process and to the corruption of American laws, they have recognized our good faith.”

The Brehon Law Society’s Robert Dunne said: “The Cameron government efforts to violate American treaties, policies and rights will not end with the death of Dolours Price or the Moloney and McIntyre litigation decision, but with a Senate hearing on the MLAT and the British corruption of its purpose. To that end we have written to Senator Menendez and to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the opportunity to be heard.”

Attorney Thomas J. Burke Jr., National President of the Unity Conference added: “We invite Americans to join us in expressing to Attorney General (Eric) Holder and to

Secretary of State Kerry strong opposition, not only for this political misuse of the MLAT, but to British efforts to undermine U.S. policy in support of the Irish peace pact.”

The subpoenas have been issued by the Justice Department in response to requests originally filed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.