Fr McManus Reviews McNamara’s Book

Posted By: February 10, 2010



CAPITOL HILL February 2, 2010 — Fr. Sean McManus, the president of the Capitol Hill- based Irish National Caucus – which initiated and launched the MacBride Principles – has released his review of the new book by former British Labor MP, Kevin McNamara: The MacBride Principles: Irish-America Fights Back. (Liverpool University Press 2009)

Fr. McManus’s review is contained in the following letter he wrote to Mr. McNamara. While praising aspects of the book, Fr. McManus enumerates factual errors, lack of proper perspective and a surprising persistent pattern of denigration against himself.


The Honorable Kevin McNamara


L37 3HB


February 2, 2010

Dear Kevin,

In your letter of January 1, 2010 you said you were looking forward to my comments on your book, The MacBride Principles: Irish America Strikes Back.

I have decided to arrange my comments under four headings: (1) Congratulations and appreciation; (2) factual errors; (3) critique; and, (4) taking issue.

(1) Congratulations and Appreciation:

You have written an important and valuable book, which demanded great labor (no pun intended) on your part. But I know for you it was a labor of love, consistent with your long and principled stand for fairness in Northern Ireland.

In publishing previously unseen documents from the Dublin, London, and U.S. governments you have rendered invaluable service.

On a personal note, I also appreciate the complementary things you say (however qualified) about my own work.

So, again, my congratulations and appreciation.

(2) Factual Errors:

A. On page 39 you incorrectly write, “In December 1977, McManus was appointed to a Special Ministry of Justice and Peace for Ireland”. The date of the appointment was December 1978.

You also incorrectly state that, “This appointment enabled Fr. McManus to function for the first time since arriving in the United States with full canonical facilities”. (Your footnote references as a source the book by Joseph E. Thompson, American Policy and Northern Ireland). I entered the US on October 2, 1972. I worked in a Redemptorist parish in Baltimore, MD from 1972 to 1975 and from 1975 to 1978 in the Redemptorist parish, Mission Church, Boston, ”with full canonical facilities”.

B. On page 65 you quote an unnamed British official who claims I, “could be highly counterproductive, particularly if at hearings he was accompanied by Martin Galvin…”

Martin Galvin never accompanied me to a hearing. And to the best of my memory, he never testified at any of the many hearings at which I testified.

Also, in regard to Mr. Galvin, on page 244, footnote 60, you write: “Doherty recalls persuading McManus and Galvin to shake hands, and then saying: ‘go to your corners and come out fighting’. He wished he had not”.

Pat has an annoying habit of conflating things in his own interest. That never happened, as he relates it. What happened is this: At a meeting in New York some people were standing in a group. Pat shook my hand, then turned around and shook the hand of Martin Galvin, looked over his shoulder at me and flippantly made that remark. There was never a question of my refusing to shake Martin’s hand. I have never refused to shake anyone’s hand. I have shaken the hands of old Black and Tans, RUC, B-Men, Paisley, UVF, UDA, etc. Only two men in my life have ever refused to shake my hand: that Irish warrior-patriot, Garret FitzGerald at the Corrymeela Reconciliation Center in Co. Antrim, August, 1979 and his protégé, Ambassador Sean Donlon on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Reviewing Stand in Washington in March, 1979.

Furthermore, Pat’s frivolous and fictional account misrepresents the nature of NorAid’s opposition to me. It was nothing personal. The Republican Movement had ordered them to oppose me. Since the beginning of the peace-process, many NorAiders have called me to apologize for their opposition.

Pat apparently not only wants to serve as your Deep Throat but as your Gossip-in-Chief. He pulls the same stunt on the excellent Sister Regina, page 21, where he states she was hostile to me but that later her opinion of me softened. I did not know that, and I still don’t know it, as you don’t let Sister speak for herself but just repeat Pat’s gossip. When you interviewed me, you did not hear me say, “So and so does not like Pat Doherty”. Gossip mongering should have no place in a noble effort like the MacBride Campaign. It is poisonous and spreads suspicion. It is what I would have expected from the BIS, not from a close colleague in the struggle.(Ironically, or significantly, in your “Acknowledgements” you tell us: “Pat Doherty spent two days at Westminster reading and suggesting improvements to the final text[of your book].” Page IX.

C. Also on page 65 you state, “McManus did not give any evidence to substantiate his claim [about the effectiveness of our Ford boycott]”. Not true. In my book, The MacBride Principles: Genesis and History –And the Story to Date (INC.1993), which you actually quote often, I give the best evidence possible — Ford’s own assessment of our boycott. Mr. George E. Trainor, Director of International Public Affairs at Ford, said in February 1987: “I am astounded at the number of Irish-Americans who have given Ford Motor Company a summary court martial on this issue, tried. Convicted, and sentenced us…”

Why did you leave out that evidence?

D. On page 95 you incorrectly refer to the Equal “Employed” Opportunity Commission—it is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

E. On page 135 you refer to Sean Donlon being Ambassador, but Donlon left Washington in 1981(but still not soon enough, however!) before the Irish National Caucus launched the formal MacBride Campaign in November 1984.

F. The Doherty (Alleged) Claim

This error is so remarkable that it demands its own heading.

On page 139 you quote a report by the Irish Deputy Consul-General O’Byrne on a meeting with Pat Doherty, NYC Comptroller’s office: “On the matter of the Comptroller appearing at so many Noraid functions, he [Doherty] said they were cultivating Flannery and Galvin in order to defuse the reaction to the comptroller’s refusal to go with the INC’s disinvestment campaign. The comptroller had been under pressure to support it, but thus far had not done so”. (DFAMP, Department of Foreign Affairs- MacBride Papers. December 12, 1985).

For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, this is extraordinarily revealing, and alarming on several levels.

Number one, I am shocked that Pat was claiming (if the report be true) that the Irish National Caucus was campaigning for disinvestment – when he knew that not to be the case. The first thing we said about the MacBride Principles was that they did not call for disinvestment or divestment. The first thing the British government and our opponents said was that they did precisely that.

Even you yourself point out on page 16 that as far back as 1979 the Irish National Caucus was opposed to disinvestment. That is why I am surprised you did not make more of this extraordinary revelation.

Number two, talk about playing both sides against the middle! It was (if true) an unconscionable dirty trick to play against the Caucus, especially at a time when the Dublin government was waging a smear campaign against us, like the British government. Furthermore, consider the implication of Pat saying (if true) that Comptroller Goldin had still not decided to support the INC campaign, which, the whole world knows, never asked him to support disinvestment. And all this 13 months after we had launched the MacBride Principles in November 1984, and almost six months after we had paid $12, 000 to send the Goldin delegation, including Pat, to Belfast in June 1985.

Do you think I might need to debrief my good buddy Pat, with whom I have always played straight? Is some water-boarding perhaps in order?

It would appear that the policy, which you reveal on page 94, was already being implemented: that, “BIS[British Information Service, New York] should be briefed in order to discredit the INC connection with MacBride and Goldin”(NIOP, Northern Ireland Office Papers, summary of minutes of meeting between officials at the NIO and DED[Department of Development].

Again, Kevin, I am perplexed that you do not appear to see the full significance of this—and about which I was completely in the dark, until your admirable research revealed it. And even now, I ‘m so stunned, I am not totally sure what to make of it. I have a definite feeling of betrayal(if the report be true).

All this may throw more light on that famously strange interview Pat gave to the late, great Mary Holland in the Irish Times in which he talks at length about the origins of the Principles – and never once mentioned the Irish National Caucus. When asked how he made contact with Sean MacBride himself, he replied, “through Irish-American connections”. So this Kinawleyman is an Irish-American connection, rather than a friend whom MacBride trusted in allowing me to name the Principles after him.

I immediately knew this would cause Sean MacBride concern, as he did not want to be used in party politics, so I telephoned him. When he answered I whispered mysteriously, ”This is your Irish-American connection”. He chuckled that laugh of his. I assured him all was well and his Principles would be safe in our hands and that Pat was just preening a little, as some Yanks like to do. I then called Mary. When she realized she had been mislead, she immediately apologized for leaving the Caucus out of her article, and promised she would rap Pat’s knuckles.(I never knew if she did).

Now your revelations (if true) seem to indicate there may have been more than preening going on. Were those BIS briefings having their effect? Indeed, one of the reasons I wrote my book on the MacBride Principles was because Pat went through a phase for a while where he acted as if the Caucus never had anything to do with the MacBride Principles – and that the whole thing was his idea. Even though we had been campaigning for years about US companies in The North before he came along .My book put a stop to that. But Kevin you have to seriously rethink who tried to exclude whom on all this. I was always the first to give Goldin and Pat their due. But now – thanks to your research – those instructions to the BIS to “discredit” the Caucus connection with Goldin cast new light on the issue. Wouldn’t it be naive to think that those clever chaps in the BIS had no effect or success? Certainly the BIS never briefed the Irish National Caucus against Goldin or Pat! And I certainly never briefed London or Dublin officials against Goldin or Pat. I always played it totally straight with my colleagues in the struggle.


The foregoing raises another related-error of fact: “What is not comprehensive is why he [McManus] should seek to exclude the important role played by Comptroller Goldin’s office in the run-up to the launch, particularly as he takes great pains to credit him for his support once he came on board in 1985”.

I did not exclude him – and you know that Kevin, as I have shown you the record. Goldin excluded himself, forbidding me at the last moment to include his name in the official and formal announcement of the MacBride Principles.

Then he inexplicably opposed the Albanese Bill, the first MacBride Bill, saying it was “premature” (“Koch & Goldin oppose Ulster investment ban,”. NY Daily News). The New York Times said: “The Council measure is opposed by Mayor Koch, who sits on the boards of the four largest pension funds for city workers, and City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin, the custodian for all five funds in the system and a trustee of the four largest funds.” [January 4, 1985].

Kevin, I hate to have to rehash all this, as I have shown you all this stuff before, and it was all meticulously catalogued in my book on the MacBride Principles.

As you also know, The Irish Echo – the paper of record on the MacBride Principles – stated in an Editorial: “Mayor Koch and City Comptroller Harrison Golden are opposed to such tough measures on the grounds that the British have an official policy that is against discrimination, and the situation in Belfast is very different from South Africa where the government has an official policy of discrimination.

The “unofficial” nature of discrimination in Northern Ireland notwithstanding, it is still a fact that Catholics do not have equal opportunity in the North, and that New York City officials have every right to be concerned about it . . .

It is for this reason Councilman Albanese should be encouraged . . . and that Mr. Koch and Mr. Golden — who I am sure are acting in good faith — should be asked to take another look at their position. Mr. Koch has the strong support of the majority of the Irish community in New York and I am sure he would like to maintain that support.” [January 19, 1985]

Are you saying that The Irish Echo also tried to “exclude” Goldin? How can you justify ignoring all this foundational stuff?

Had Goldin not backed out at the last moment and had he joined me as originally planned — as I had told Sean MacBride he would – in announcing the MacBride Campaign, none of this would have ever happened. Two very prominent New York politicians (now no longer in office) had been warning me that I could not depend on Goldin, that he would back off under pressure, and sure enough it happened.(I don’t know what role Pat played in Goldin’s backing off).But had Goldin not backed off, then all future Caucus Press Releases would have said, “The MacBride Principles – launched by the Irish National Caucus and NYC Comptroller Goldin – etc.”

Goldin’s backing off was compounded a hundred-fold by his opposition to the Albanese Bill. As I stated in my book: “At this stage — and for a good while later — Goldin was opposed to legislation on the Principles. He felt that Shareholder Resolutions would have sufficient leverage and his office didn’t want anything to overshadow his role. His office fought Albanese’s office on this. So much so that Albanese and I had to call a meeting in New York to push the need for legislation.

About 400 Irish-Americans attended the meeting. I spoke very forcefully about the need for legislation — not just shareholder resolutions. Even at that meeting, Goldin’s office opposed the idea of legislation. But the mood of the meeting was clearly in our favor and soon afterwards Goldin’s office withdrew their opposition to legislation”. (The MacBride Principles: Genesis and History- And The Story to Date. Page 22).

That meeting in New York was a key building block in the long construction of the MacBride Campaign – something which you, Kevin, don’t want to dwell on. At the meeting, Pat Doherty was visibly shaken by the anger at Goldin. Time and time again, I witness people say to him: “There has to be a law. There has to be a law”, the adapted refrain of the Albanese –Caucus supporters.

When Goldin came around, the Irish National Caucus rescued him from the hole he had dug (with or without Pat Doherty’s help) by sponsoring his visit to Belfast, to the tune of $12, 000 . A rather strange thing to do, wouldn’t the objective observer say, if we wanted, in your unfounded accusation, to “exclude Goldin”? Furthermore Goldin himself made the proposal to me in person at a meeting in his office in New York. Ironically, I took enormous grief from some of our contributors who objected to us “squandering money on politicians”. But I kept telling them the Goldin visit would bear great fruit and he would be a key ally in the struggle. Many who had cancelled their membership renewed it when they saw I was right and that Goldin would go on to do great things.

So, Kevin, I cannot let you un-ring this MacBride bell; you cannot rewrite the record.

Things further became messy later when Pat Doherty wanted to make an issue of the drafting of the MacBride Principles. That was not expected, as staffers are not supposed to claim pride of authorship when assigned a project. And I’ve never known one to do so except for Pat. These were the MacBride Principles, not anybody else’s. Just as, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask…” is JFK’s speech, not anybody else’s. Indeed, the drafter of the speech said exactly that — it was not his speech, but the President’s. Just as when someone drafted one of your speeches, Kevin, and you gave it, it was your speech. That is why I find it surprising when you criticize me for saying the drafting of the Principles never concerned me too much: “This was a surprising statement to make”(page 24).There was nothing surprising about it. I was never too concerned about the drafting of the principles contained in the Ottinger Bill, the Fish-D’Amato Bill, or the Gilman legislation that became Federal Law in 1998. NOR DID THEIR STAFF MAKE AN ISSUE OF IT. My job was to nationally publicize these principles and force through legislation on a state and federal level– and to drive Her Majesty’s Government crazy in the process.

Government departments, the world over, are full of bright young lawyers who can draft a set of principles about almost anything. As an MP for almost for 40 years, you must know that better than most. For example, the smart chaps in the British Government could have at any time in the past hundred years drafted a perfect set of principles for Ireland, if they had the mind to (and the heart).

These principles only became the powerful force they did, when they became THE MACBRIDE PRINCIPLES. Although you force me to say it myself, the Principles would never have gotten off the ground with such a bang had they not been launched by the Irish National Caucus, which did all the initial publicity –framing the issue, briefing the media, educating the public, and lining up political support. As you stated above, Goldin only “came on board in 1985”.

But, here again, your own invaluable research casts new light on when Goldin “came on board”. As quoted before, on page 139, you have Deputy Consul-General O’Byrne saying as late as December 12, 1985 that it is not sure if Goldin will support our campaign. And you, Kevin, claim I excluded Goldin!

Are you kidding me? You need to give this Kinawleyman a break.

In concluding this section, let me emphasize how highly I regard Pat Doherty’s work (apart from the corrections forced on me here).In 2008, the Irish Echo asked me to rate his work. This is what I said :“Pat has played a key role in the campaign to stop U.S. dollars subsidizing anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland…He is one of the most effective Irish-American campaigners since the time of the Fenians in 1858”.(“Doherty’s way. NYC aims to keep investments ethical”. Peter McDermott. November 12, 2008).

And for the Irish Echo’s celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the MacBride Principles (before I had read your book) I paid tribute to Goldin thus: “Therefore, I am sure WB Yeats would understand if I end my “Ode to Jewish-American Politicians” by paraphrasing his famous poem, “Easter, 1916” with,

“I write it out in a verse –

Gilman, Ottinger, Goldin, Holtzman and Hevesi

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.”

(“The origins of a principled idea” Irish Echo, December 9, 2009).

You will know that one of the persons Yeats honors in the original was John MacBride – Sean’s martyred father.

Again, objective observers would say I have an odd way of, in your words, “excluding Goldin” — by comparing him to the executed heroes of 1916!

George Bernard Shaw was apparently when he said ‘England and America are two countries divided by a common language”.

I compare Pat Doherty to the Fenians, and Jay Goldin to the 1916 heroes … what higher praise can this Kinawleyman bestow?

There are other errors in your book, but I must move on to the final section of my comments (which, I remind you, you asked for) .

(3) Critique

Your otherwise fine book – apart from some of the errors listed – is marred by your disconcerting habit of positing a number of contradictory propositions often on the same page or section – without any attempt to reconcile them. When you do attempt to reconcile them, your perspective is a bit skewed. I don’t know if this is a result of poor editing or what but, it makes for a jarring and disjointed read.

You were fortunate to have the distinguished Professor Marianne Elliott as a thesis-supervisor. I have read her books, When God Took Sides and The Catholics of Ulster, and I frequently quote them.

You have provided a great service in making public government documents and for that alone, you deserve great credit.

That your perspective is a bit off is nowhere more evident than when it comes to the legislative process of the Federal MacBride Bill – which is, indeed, ironic since you are an eminent legislator of 40 years standing!

In large part, this may be due to your over-dependence on your Gossip-in-Chief – my good buddy Pat Doherty who had absolutely no involvement with the Congressional legislation. Neither he, nor Joe Jamison of the Irish-American Labor Coalition ever attended any of the meetings of the House International Relations Committee/Foreign Affairs considering the MacBride legislation, and at which I was lobbying as if my life depended on it. I would sit for hours listening to the Clinton Administration give what was essentially the British line on the MacBride Principles (“To put the Principles into specific legislation could have an inhibiting effect on the investment goals we seek. The proposed U.S. legislation is coming at a time when the British Government has strict anti-discriminatory legislation in force and the U.S. Administration is attempting to reduce regulatory and other requirements on U.S. companies. We must be sensitive to the need not to hobble American business with complicated requirements which business from other countries are not bound by… ’’ . Hearing before the House International Relations Committee, (HIRC) on March 15, 1995, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, Richard Holbroke, speaking on behalf of President Clinton)

And you think I should have taken this nonsense, bitten my tongue and rolled over?

I had personally lobbied every Member of the Committee (over -40 Members) under both Democratic and Republican control—written to every Member of the entire Congress, House and Senate – urging them to stand up for the MacBride Principles. Yet you conclude I should have remained silent as The Administration made a frontal and potentially deadly assault on the MacBride Principles! How could I have kept the Congress on board if I did that! It would have given Members of Congress license to oppose MacBride with impunity – and City and State legislators, too. How can you not see that?

The first rule of lobbying is never to let the President or the Congress dismiss or misrepresent your legislative mission. For example, there were no more two loyal Democratic constituencies than African-Americans and the Labor Movement. But when Clinton went against them, they fought back fiercely –and fair play to them for their integrity.

So when you write about me publicly standing up to President Clinton (whom I love, God bless him), you hurl in your disconcerting troupe of contradictions. On page 75, you quote Pat Doherty and Joe Jamison as being upset with me, and you elaborate with footnote 232 (page 250): “Doherty and other Irish-Americans believed that Clinton had undertaken an historic change in US policy towards Ireland, which should be acknowledged despite this one difference”. You cite that without demur, while having stated on page 74 that I and other leaders of 10 Irish-American organizations had precisely “acknowledged“ Clinton’s “historic change”: “Because of our great gratitude for your crucial support of the Irish peace-process we’ve been reluctant to say anything up to now…”

But what Pat Doherty says – that I should roll over, “despite this one difference” – is a profound misunderstanding . “This one difference” would have in principle invalidated the entire MacBride campaign. If one accepted the Clinton’s argument against the Federal MacBride Bill, then one would have to accept the same argument against all State and City Bills. (Does that bring up again the unhappy specter of Goldin’s reluctance to support the Albanese Bill?).

But having accepted Doherty’s position — that it was bad for me to stand up for MacBride against Clinton — you unconsciously, apparently, proceed to prove that my strategy was very effective and successful.

You write: “The administration was caught unawares by the size of the storm”. While at the top of the same page (75) you dismiss me and the other signers of the Clinton-letter as only representing, “the more extreme Republican elements”. (While the Republican Movement and NorAid had been attacking me for years for not being Republican)

You continue with your stream-of-contradictions, pages 74 to 79: “There was no one better to orchestrate such an uproar than McManus…The strength of McManus’s attack… forced the administration to consider making a gesture to placate the pro-MacBride Democrats…The truth of the matter is that the President did not wish to go to Chicago… without attempting to achieve a reconciliation with the MacBride campaign…In an attempt to quell the controversy… James Lyons (the US observer to the IFI) wrote [to The Irish Echo] “… whether or not Congress sees fit to incorporate the principles … in legislation, the Clinton administration and I… will continue to see that these principles remain fully implemented in the International Fund for Ireland…”Then you add the clincher of all clinchers, delighting this Kinawleyman’s heart: “Officials in the DED privately acknowledged that the UK government had lost the battle on MacBride. The UK embassy in Washington immediately recognized that the Lyons letter was likely to encourage McManus to press for legislation”. Smart boys, those British Embassy chaps!

Come on now, Kevin, do you seriously think any of the above would have happened had I not stood up to Clinton?

And yet, thrown into all these same pages, 74 to 79, you blithely make this remarkable conclusion: It [ standing up for MacBride against Clinton] was probably the most significant political error that he [McManus] had made… he shot himself in the foot..”

What, and what again!

Get real, for results like that, I would have shot myself in both feet. Far from being my worst political error, most Congressional and political-campaign observers would say it was my finest moment. That is exactly what the great Congressman Ben Gilman, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee said, stating on the Floor of the House, that I had single-handedly brought MacBride to passage. Of course, in truth, I could not have done it without Ben Gilman – may he live in glory for all time.

Then, Kevin, you soldier on relentlessly with your non sequitors: “Nevertheless, McManus realized that he had lost a lot of ground among his normal supporters…”

Again, what’s up with that!

And you continue on: “… He made a half-apology: … You are all angry now, but in time you will see that my strategy was right…”

How could it even be a half-apology, when I was reiterating I was right? It was, sure enough, an attempt to get the small number of people who had cosigned a letter criticizing me to get over their misplace anger and get back to standing up for MacBride. But what is wrong with that? I always hold out an olive branch.

Finally, it seems rather strange that you do not realize that there are some partisan Democrats who would have never taken on Clinton even if had flip-flopped on every promise on Ireland. And the same is true of partisan Republicans(American) in regards to a Republican president. There are not too many Clare Shorts on either side of the Atlantic…Hence the wisdom of the motto of the Irish National Caucus: “Neither Democrat or Republican but dedicated to getting both parties to stand up for justice and peace in Ireland”.

That is why I was able to stand up to President Clinton, even though there was nobody on the planet more grateful than I for his great work on Ireland. And because I had shown I was prepared to stand up to him, I could with credibility later stand UP FOR him during the Impeachment Process, writing to every Member of the House and Senate and telling them, “Let those without sin cast the first stone”.

I want to conclude this section by taking you up on a very serious misrepresentation and distortion, which will totally mislead the unaware reader .


On page 159 you write: “An intemperate letter from Fr. McManus to Haughey, included the old accusation that before and after Haughey’s election [ to his third term as Taoiseach, 1987 to 1992], ‘ Irish government officials in the United States have actively campaigned against the MacBride Principles’”.

It was not an, “old accusation” but a brand new example of the Embassy’s opposition to MacBride.

Here I give my entire letter. I would be surprised if any objective reader could find one intemperate word in it – despite the seriousness of the issues I raise.

How can you fairly characterize my letter as intemperate, when there is not one intemperate in it. One may challenge the truth of it, but I know for a fact that every word is true.

Then you report Ambassador’s Mc Kernan’s response as contained in the DFAMP, undated cable:

“Although one can readily dismiss Fr. McManus’s lurid assertions, at the same time there is a serious and unscrupulous intent behind them…

This is to try to intimidate Irish officials in the United States … it is an attempt to intimidate the government. You have observed the minatory note struck in the letter when Fr. McManus says that the Caucus will be monitoring the activities of the Embassy.”

Then, Kevin, you blithely continue on your merry way and say, “The day to day work of the Embassy continued: monitoring the progress of the Mc Bride campaign…”

So it was perfectly okay for the Embassy to monitor the MacBride campaign, but it was intimidatory and minatory for me to monitor theirs?

Yet, strangely you do not describe the Ambassador’s letter as intemperate. Surely you must recognize your own double standard here, not to mention the Ambassador’s?

You have committed a grave distortion of my letter. That was my first ever letter to an Irish Prime Minister, and I would hardly be intemperate, especially since I had a certain regard for Charlie Haughey, at least when compared to Lynch, Cosgrave and FitzGerald. I have written thousands of letters to Presidents, Members of Congress and other elected officials. Not one ever stereotyped or caricatured my letters as intemperate.

Furthermore, what should have really upset the Ambassador was Senator Moynihan’s attack on Sean MacBride. If Moynihan had accused a former British, Israeli, French, etc., Foreign Minister of being a Soviet agent or mole, those Embassies would have gone ballistic. There was not one word of protest from the Irish Embassy. What does that reveal? By the way, Ambassador Mc Kernan was almost as fanatically opposed to the Irish National Caucus as Sean Donlon!

You will see my letter to Haughey was dated February, 1988. Sean MacBride had died the previous month. I traveled from Washington for his funeral. There were two prominent politicians noticeably absent from his funeral – Garret FitzGerald and John Hume.

I once asked Sean MacBride if Hume over the years had ever turned to him for advice and he said he had not. When I asked him why he thought that was the case, Sean replied, emphatically and succinctly: “Because he knows I’m implacably opposed to Partition”


This is an area I was reluctant to get into but there is a Washington maxim that states, “A false accusation not answered is an accusation accepted”.


urthermore, my esteemed colleague here at the Caucus, Barbara Flaherty ( is adamant that your false accusations not go unanswered. And when an Italian lady is adamant, look out.

I asked her to scrutinize your book with her eagle eye and open Italian mind(despite the Irish name). Regarding your kind inscription to me on your book: “Your friend and admirer”, she states :

“The Honorable gentleman has a peculiar way of showing his friendship and admiration. In nearly every reference to you, he fires in a denigrating description: “over-the-top, with characteristic understatement, hysterical, extreme, unfair, intemperate, McManus school of invective”, etc., etc.” (Of course, he has to recognize you were effective). Additionally, he regurgitates the Doherty gossip and is persistently reluctant to admit you were right on anything, despite your many successes against huge odds.

This is all the more glaring in that in his references to others, he carefully refrains from negative and denigrating adjectival outpourings. I am surprised his thesis-supervisor did not advise him to cut it out. I know when I was doing my thesis, my university advisor warned me not to use unnecessary and negative adjectives lest it question my objectivity and indicate a certain bias or personal dislike – revealing more about the writer than the subject”. Signed. Barbara J. Flaherty.

Kevin, until Barbara pointed this out to me, I really did not notice it. For 40 years I have grown so used to the hostile elements in the media always slipping in the weasel word – the put down, the dig – lest anyone accuse them, heavens forbid, of being soft on me. They seemed to always have to cover their flank in this way. So I had grown accustomed to it. Historically, some English commentators on Ireland were not even conscious they were using put-downs because stereotyping the Irish had become part of their culture. Of course, the unconscious bias may be the worst of all.

But, Kevin, I would not have expected it from you. Personally, it does not bother me all that much. But unfortunately it damages the objectivity of your book, especially when you could have so easily dropped all those unnecessary, denigrating and negative adjectives, and left out gossip.

Finally, it might have provided a bit of balance for your readers (not to mention yourself) if you had reflected on the fact that during all that time, I was under constant attack from the London and Dublin Governments, plus the Republican Movement and NorAid.

But then maybe you had to protect your flank because, heavens forbid, you might have been accused of being soft on me.

However, even with all your slings and arrows, you demonstrate that Her Majesty’ Government was deeply concerned about my work. You are forced to conclude (with your inevitable qualifier, of course, but, this time at least, without a denigrating adjective): ‘‘ Whether he[ McManus] is fully entitled to the accolade of, ‘Britain’s nemesis in America, the driving force that would eventually erode Britain’s influence within the United State’s government’ is questionable, but he came close to it”.(Page 212-213.Your partial quote is from American Policy and Northern Ireland by Joseph E. Thompson,

Even with your qualifier, that’s good enough for this humble Irishman.


You are still my friend, and I admire you, too.



Fr. Sean McManus
Irish National Caucus
Capitol Hill
PO BOX 15128
Washington, DC 20003-0849
Tel. 202-544-0568
Fax 202-488-7537