Posted By: December 24, 2016


Standing up for justice: Former New York Congressman Ben Gilman with Fr Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus

Irish News. Saturday, December 24, 2016

The district served by New York Congressman Ben Gilman included part of ‘Ulster County’, and throughout his career, he was keenly attuned to the concerns of his Irish-American constituents.

Although of Jewish descent himself, the Republican was credited with doing more than anyone of any background in the House of Representatives on Irish issues.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1922, Gilman was a lawyer by profession and decorated for flying 35 missions over Japan during the Second World War.

He was first elected to Congress in 1972 and served until 2003, representing the lower Hudson Valley area.

From 1995 to 2000 he was chairman of the influential International Relations

Committee and Fr Sean McManus, president of the Irish National Caucus, said one of his first actions was to fulfill a promise to hold congressional hearings on human rights in Northern Ireland.

“To me, this is a profound life lesson for Irish-Americans,” he said.

“Irish-Catholic Congressmen covered up British injustice and oppression in Northern Ireland. A Jewish-American Congressman came to the rescue, broke the ban on Congressional hearings and got the United States

Congress to officially stand up for Irish justice and peace,” he said.

“God rest the great Ben Gilman. May his name live forever in Irish history.”

Ben Gilman died aged 94 on December 17.