Hearing Focuses on North funding, rights

Posted By: October 08, 2010

By Susan Falvella Garraty
Washington, D.C.—At a House International Relations Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight hearing last week, the re-emergence of violence in Northern Ireland was examined along with the continuing U.S. commitment towards sustaining stability in the province.
Subcommittee chairman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) led the hearing arguing that the U.S. needs to “see our commitments through” in both the peace process in Northern Ireland and also in Bosnia, the committee’s other focus during the proceeding.
Carnahan said that where he’s from in St. Louis, neighbors looked out for one another, and that’s what the U.S. could continue to do in both Northern Ireland and Bosnia. He said both have come a long way from days of daily sectarian armed conflict and U.S. assistance accounted for some of their successful transitions.
The ranking Republican on the subcommittee, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)voiced concerns about further U.S. government funding for Northern Ireland.
“How much have we spent there, 500 million dollars? “ he queried.
Since 1986, Congress has authorized $500 Million in support of the International Fund for Ireland.
It was time for the European Union to take the lead with Bosnia and Northern Ireland Rohrbacher asserted.
“We’ve drained our resources and we are vulnerable,” he said.
The testifying deputy director of the Belfast based Committee on the Administration of Justice, Aideen Gilmore did not underline the need for U.S financial support in her testimony to the committee. She instead asked for the U.S. to continue in a leadership role fostering political stability and in oversight of human rights.
“We believe that the U.S., as a close friend of both the United Kingdom and Ireland, the two sovereign guarantors of the (Good Friday) agreement is uniquely placed to provide such vigilant support,” testified Gilmore. Congressman Rohrabacher suggested that any lingering issues or a potential return to violence in the North could be avoided with a simple up and down vote to remove partition.
“I may say there are counties in Northern Ireland that would like to be a part of greater Ireland as opposed to a part of Great Britain. Perhaps if there’s a county there that votes that way, maybe they should be permitted to go in that direction.”
“Just a thought” he added.