Human Rights Must Be at the Heart and Core of Irish Peace Process

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Washington, D.C., October 9, 1997 — Welcoming today’s Congressional Hearing on human rights before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, the President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, Fr. Sean McManus, said, “Human rights must be at the heart and core of the Irish peace process. Without human rights and justice there is no peace. In the past some people perversely argued against mentioning human rights because violence was ongoing; now some argue against mentioning human rights because there is no violence in Northern Ireland.”

Fr. McManus went on to praise the Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), for holding this Hearing on Northern Ireland. “From 1972 to 1994 all Hearings on Northern Ireland were banned — and banned by big-name Irish Catholic Speakers — so as not to

embarrass the London Government. But all that changed when Congressman Ben Gilman (NY) became Chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Mr. Gilman held the first Hearing in March 1995 before the Full Committee. And now Congressman Smith is holding his second Hearing before his Subcommittee. Irish-Americans — and indeed the whole human rights community — owe Congressmen Gilman and Smith a great debt of gratitude,” he said.

“There are huge human rights problems to be addressed in Northern Ireland: (1) systemic, ongoing anti-Catholic discrimination; (2) the entire apparatus of repressive legislation; (3) an unacceptable, sectarian police force; and (4) insensitivity to political prisoners and to those falsely imprisoned,” he concluded.