Irish Americans Angry Over North Irish Voice.

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Wednesday, October 22,2003

By Georgina Brennan and Tom Deignan

IRISH American activists and observers initially applauded Tuesday’s historic news out of Northern Ireland. However, the mood darkened when it became clear that David Trimble had dashed the hopes of an historic deal at the last moment.

Bill Flynn, the chairman of Mutual of America and a key player on the American side of the peace process, was less than enthused when after the news broke that elections would be called, Trimble refused to sign off on what was agreed.

“It was an enormous disappointment to all of the people who worked on the peace process. It laid to rest once and for all that it was not the Republicans, or Sinn Fein, or the IRA holding up the culmination of the peace process,” Flynn said from his Manhattan office.

“Americans of Irish heritage now realize that it is the Unionists who have the problem. The tail has been placed on the donkey in exactly the right spot. A lot of people who worked on this said it was Tony Blair that worked hard to make it happen. We now ask that he let the elections be held because if they are not held now, I expect there will be an end to the peace process and a return to the old ways in Northern Ireland.”

Long Island Congress-man Peter King was among those who chose to look on the bright side of things.

“Look, when you are dealing with Ireland, you never exactly get what you like,” said King, a longtime observer of the North. “Having said that, things are going forward. It’s definitely positive news.”

King and others argued that the IRA has generally done what it was asked to do, and speculated that Trimble seemed to be posturing or “getting cold feet,” in King’s words.

Congressman Richard Neal from Massa-chusetts, co-chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, was also disappointed with Tuesday’s events.

“What started out as a day that had the potential of being the most significant on the island of Ireland since the signing of the Good Friday agreement, turned into another challenge for the peace process,” he said.

“When it came time for David Trimble to live up to his end of the bargain, he simply lost his nerve. I have no doubt that Prime Minister Blair and Taoiseach Ahern will redouble their efforts to find a solution to today’s unexpected development. But after today’s unfortunate events, it is the Ulster Unionists Party who must demonstrate their commitment to the democratic process.”

New Jersey Congress-man Chris Smith, also long active in Northern Ireland affairs, said, “The unfettered operation of a power-sharing, democratically elected government is a lynch-pin of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Holding these elections is critical to sustaining the confidence of the citizens of Northern Ireland as well as the support of those of us who have worked hard to promote human rights reforms, peace, and justice in the north.”

Father Sean McManus, president of the Irish National Caucus, said: “We congratulate Prime Minister Blair for correcting his mistake of May in canceling elections.” McManus also called upon Republican dissidents to embrace the peace process.

Manhattan lawyer and activist Frank Durkan applauded the move to hold elections after all this time. “I think they should have held elections a long time ago, but now, it’s better late than never, so lets go ahead with it,” he said on Tuesday.

“With regard to the decommissioning, it would seem to me that the Republicans made a judgment that there is more to be gained by political action than any other action and I would adhere to their judgment and support it.”

Durkan, however, was scathing about Trimble’s role. “Nothing but the same old story,” he said.