Human rights champion set for West book launch

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Belfast Media Group

Original Article:

Andersonstown News Monday

West Belfast-based victims’ group Relatives for Justice are hosting the launch of Fr Sean McManus’s memoirs in Belfast next week.

‘My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland’ is the new book by the founder of the Washington DC Irish National Caucus.

Fr McManus, who will be in West Belfast for the launch, has dedicated his life to championing the cause of truth, justice, equality and peace in Ireland by using his influence on American political and social life for positive change in Ireland.

Speaking in advance of the launch, which takes place in the Cultúrlann on Saturday, April 9 at 1pm, RFJ Director Mark Thompson said for four decades Fr McManus has worked tirelessly and campaigned on key justice, equality and human rights issues relating to the North of Ireland.

“Despite being at times a lone voice, and facing a British government with endless human and financial resources at its disposal in Washington DC, Fr Sean never faltered or was deterred in his work,” he said.

“This is a credit to his character and resilience, for it could never have been easy against these odds. Irish people the world over have tremendous admiration for his work, his energy, his drive and passion to right wrong.

“The counter-challenge of his work by the British in Washington DC was met head-on by Fr Sean where he regularly took on and exposed the propaganda and misinformation of the British government by shining a light – the light of truth – creating awareness and providing a voice for those affected by British policy in Ireland who were also marginalised.

“He has worked closely with key influential members of the US Congress and Senate securing Congressional hearings and political interventions, many of which were, and are, a catalyst for progressive change.”

Mark said for the families, who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British state Fr Sean was the people’s champion and a person of great integrity on whom they could always rely to fight their corner.

“Importantl,y Fr Sean ensured our representation and participation at key events, and hearings down the years on Capitol Hill (Washington),” he continued.

“Fr Sean ensured that impunity for human rights violations in the North was and is challenged.

“Fr Sean has built alliances, partnerships, and through his dedicated work forged close friendships with the great and the good of America and Irish-Americans, all the time bringing to the attention of the American public the cause of equal rights, justice and peace in Ireland.”

RFJ Chairperson Clara Reilly recalled the first time she met Fr Sean, in the 1970s in Washington with the younger sister of Martin Forsythe, who was killed by the RUC.

“Fr Sean facilitated a meeting for us with members of the US Congress and Senate where we also raised the issue of rubber and plastic bullets and the killing of young Brian Stewart,” recalled Clara.

“I was a member of the Association for Legal Justice (ALJ) and over the years the link between the ALJ and Fr Sean’s work in Washington DC proved to be of vital importance.

“Along with the late Fr Brian Brady, from St Joseph’s Training College based at Trench House Andersonstown, with Fr Raymond Murray, the prison chaplain at Armagh, and the late Fr Denis Faul, one of the chaplains at Long Kesh, a formidable team of clerics and lay-people networked across the Atlantic to Irish America.

“Fr Sean was a beacon of hope in Washington’s Capitol Hill where he raised the issues of brutality and torture within the prisons and interrogation centres across the North.

“Saturday, April 9, therefore, is an important day on which we can show our appreciation and support to Fr Sean McManus and his work when he visits Belfast for the launch of his book.

“This book will be a testimony to all that work and a record of those years and thus both historically and currently an important illustration of the journey – the struggle for justice.”

The book launch starts at 1pm and people are asked to call and register their attendance with the administration desk for numbers and seating arrangements. Contact adminrfj@relativesfor or call them on 02890220100