Caucus cites British ‘spying’ on Irish America

Posted By: September 14, 2016


Echo News–September 14-20 , 2016, page 7

Caucus cites British ‘spying’ on Irish America

By Irish Echo Staff

VERY BEST sean pr

Fr. Sean Mc Manus

It was a time rife with intrigue.

Now some of that intrigue has come to light with the re­lease of long shelved state pa­pers dealing with Northern Ireland in the 1980s, and British government attitudes towards Irish American activist groups.

“Recently released British/Northern Ireland Office State Papers have caused con­siderable interest, and have given further insight into how the British Embassy spied on Irish-Americans,” said the Irish National Caucus, one of those groups, in a statement this week.

The state papers were re­leased by the Public Record Of­fice of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and cover the period 1980 to 1989.

The papers were released under the “30/20 rule which is the phased release of official documents that were initially marked secret for 30 years, but are to be released after 20 years.

“This time the papers are of particular interest for a two­fold reason: they reveal how deeply worried the British gov­ernment was about our

MacBride Principles campaign (which they accurately state is ‘largely instigated by the Irish National Caucus’ and the pa­pers reveal how the British Em­bassy penetrated and spied on Irish-American organizations,” said INC founder and presi­dent, Fr. Sean McManus.

One of the released papers consists of a report dated Octo­ber 10, 1985, by the British Em­bassy to the Head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland at the time.

The paper gives a report on an Irish American Unity con­ference meeting in Philadelphia which took place August 23-25,


It explains how one of the IAUC members present was re­porting ( the Fermanagh-born Fr. McManus uses the word “spying”) events to the British Embassy in Washington and that another member had pro­claimed her “hatred” for Fr. McManus at the meeting.

Said McManus by way of re­sponse to the revelation: “I have a life-long policy of not re­sponding to personal attacks.

“But I have to make an excep­tion in this case as it is not really a personal attack, but one glo­ried in, and recorded by the British Embassy.

“It is sad and pathetic that at the height of the MacBride Principles campaign that the Brits could report that another Irish organization was spend­ing its time in attacking me. How absurd and traitorous is that.”

And he continued in part: “However, I do not take all that stuff personally. Because of my life-long experience and back­ground, I can figure out from whence come the constant, sys­tematic attempts to sabotage my work.

“And it has always come, one way or another, from the British Embassy, and, at least in the early years, from the Irish Em­bassy.

“Thus it has always been. For example, I follow a rule of thumb, which is also a good re­ligious principle: if one never had a personal confrontation or had personally offended a per­son, then an attack from such a person can never be ‘personal.’ Something else is always be­hind it.

“In all my 44 years in Amer­ica, and in all my Irish activity, I’ve never had a personal fight or a nasty confrontation with any person on the Irish issue.

And even though I have re­ceived hundreds of thousands of letters, phone-calls and emails, not one person has ever outlined to me what they dis­agreed with in my work.

“And that is because no gen­uine Irish person could reason­ably oppose the main pillars of my life’s work on Irish justice. However, any time anyone con­tacted me to make individual suggestions as to how I could do my work better, I always lis­tened with great respect and at­tention. And I will always be eternally grateful for the huge and splendid individual and collective support I’ve received over all these years.

Fr. McManus concluded: “However, in all of this pathetic stuff, the central issue is: By what right and under what law is the British Embassy — or, in­deed, the Irish Embassy— enti­tled to spy on Americans who are exercising their constitu­tional rights?

“What has the State Depart­ment to say about this? What if the Soviet/Russian or China embassies were spying and re­cruiting spies in the United States, would the State Depart­ment be silent?”