Caucus moves fast in the face of “mac attack”
Posted By: April 20, 2017
IRISH CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING
Ray O’Hanlon. Irish Echo. New York City, Thursday, April 20, 2017
But the ability of regular folk stockholders to influence corporate policies is coming under
pressure in Congress, and this could have profound ramifications for the fair employment guidelines named after Dr. Sean MacBride.
A congressional move to, in effect, eliminate shareholders’ advocacy for worthy causes has caused outrage among Irish Americans,” said Fr. Sean McManus of the Washington, D.C.- based Irish National Caucus, which spearheaded the U.S. MacBride campaign when it first took form in the 1980s.
Said Fr. McManus: “For many years, such advocacy – for social, governance, and environmental concerns – was open to any group or person who owned $2,000 worth of shares for one year.
“But a proposed bill before the House of Representatives Financial Service Committee would rob the average American of this important right, placing it only in the hands of the mega-rich and billionaires.”
What McManus described as a “radical change” was being proposed, he said, by the Financial Services Committee chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas.
The Fermanagh-born priest has written to all 64 members of the Financial Service Committee condemning the proposal.
“This would amount to a flagrant attack on America’s founding principle: ‘We the people,’” McManus said.
“It would outrageously eliminate millions of citizens and the average American from having a say on the conduct of publicly held companies.
“The ordinary citizen, investor, consumer, and stakeholder is dismissed, leaving only the super- rich with any say.
“So, for example, this would mean that in order to submit a proposal to Wells Fargo, one would have to own $2.5 billion in shares, whereas at present one only needs to have owned $2,000 worth of shares for one year.”
The MacBride Principles, according to the Irish National Caucus, is a corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Northern Ireland.
The nine guidelines – passed by a number of states and municipalities – were enshrined
into U.S. law in 1998.
Said the INC statement: “The principles were passed twice by the Republican-controlled
Congress and signed into U.S. law by Democratic President Clinton.
“Furthermore, 116 companies have agreed to implement the MacBride Principles, and the principles have been passed into law by 18 States and numerous cities and towns.”
Said McManus: “What American can possibly condone this? And what member of Congress would vote to take away the voice of the ordinary citizen, franchising only the mega-rich?
“It is undemocratic, un-American, and surely should be the third rail of American politics for all members of Congress.
“This is an affront to all Americans. From a specifically Irish-American perspective, it would be the death-knell for the most effective campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland, the MacBride Principles.
Fr. McManus stated in part in his letter to committee members: “This this terrible initiative is not only an attack on basic American values but it will be seen as an attempt to sabotage the MacBride Principles which have played a key role in promoting equality and non-discrimination in employment in Northern Ireland, thereby making a vital
contribution to the Irish peace process.
“I am totally confident in saying that the Irish National Caucus is reflecting the opinion of the majority of concerned Irish-Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, when I respectfully you to take a strong stand against this un-American attempt to silence the voices of ordinary American citizens.
“Please respond promptly as we are publishing the position of all the Financial Service
Committee members on this vital issue for Irish-Americans.”