In Praise of Father McManus

Posted By: May 16, 2020


 Fr. McManus and Congressman Gilman at Speaker’s St. Patrick’s Day Lunch. 2010

                                                                              In Praise of Father McManus


                                                                                                                            Congressman Ben Gilman, former Chairman,

                                                                                                                                House International Relations Committee

                                                                                                                                                       February 2003


As I retire from Congress, I want to pay tribute to Father Sean McManus, the President of the Irish National Caucus.

For 30 years as a Member of Congress, I have been privileged to work for many good and noble causes around the world.  None has given me more pleasure than my work for equality, justice, and peace in Ireland.

Throughout my 30 years of congressional work, Father McManus has been constantly by my side – encouraging, guiding and giving invaluable advice from his unsurpassed knowledge of the Irish issue.  No one has done more than Father Mc Manus to keep the U.S. Congress on track regarding justice and peace in Ireland.  Indeed, I believe historians will record that no one since John Devoy (1842-1928) has done more to organize American pressure for justice in Ireland.  (The only difference being that Father Mc Manus – in keeping with his priestly calling – is committed to nonviolence).

 During the past 30 years, the fingerprints of Father McManus are over every piece of Congressional action on Ireland: from the formation of the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee For Irish Affairs in 1977 (which in turn sparked the formation of the Friends of Ireland in 1981) to Congressional Hearings on Northern Ireland, once banned until I became Chairman of the International Relations Committee in 1995; from individual human rights cases, like the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four to the political assassinations cases of Pat Finucane and Rose Mary Nelson; from the Hunger Strikes of Bobby Sands and his nine colleagues to the general mistreatment of political prisoners; from individual cases of anti-Catholic discrimination to the full, frontal and triumphal campaign of the Mac Bride Principles; from stopping the sale of U.S. weapons to the RUC to putting human rights conditions on U.S. dealings with the Northern Ireland police.

 Summarily, Father Mc Manus’s doctrine “that the United States must not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland” has now become U.S. law and policy.  Accordingly, it has been my honor and privilege to have given Congressional shape to Father McManus’ dream for his beloved Ireland.