Letter to Editor

Posted By: March 29, 2013

The Irish National Caucus is opposed to a proposal for the House International Relations Committee (HIRC) to conduct Hearings on the three arrested-Irishmen in Columbia. Let me say right away, however, if the Hearings were important for the national security of the U.S. we would support them.

But it is absurd for anyone to claim that Hearings are necessary for national security. They will not produce one item of information which is not already known to the C.I.A. or other U.S. intelligence agencies. But they will inevitably produce one result : embarrass Sinn Fein, and thus harm the Irish peace Process.

Irish-Americans who are committed to the Irish Peace Process should not stand idly by and allow this to happen.They should let their Senators and Representatives know about their concern.

I also fear that this peculiar push for Hearings is being encouraged by elements in Ireland, north and south, who stand to benefit from Sinn Fein’s ” wings being clipped” before the next elections. Sinn Fein stands poised to significantly increase their number of parliamentary seats, north and south. A big embarrassment on Capitol Hill for Sinn Fein might do the trick quite nicely.

I wouldn’t really mind any of this(as the Irish national Caucus has no interest in partisan politics) except for one thing : to embarrass Sinn Fein is in effect to damage the Peace Process. That is what we cannot allow. The Peace Process is already under enough strain without misguided Congressional Hearings adding to it.

I must confess to feeling a certain irony in all this. You see, for years I had campaigned for Congressional Hearings (which had been banned from 1972). I failed in my campaign until Congressman Ben Gilman(R-NY) became Chairman of the HIRC in 1995. He, God bless him, immediately scheduled numerous Hearings. Congressman Gilman is no longer Chairman, and now I am opposing Hearings while those (like The Unionist Party) who had historically opposed Hearings are now supporting Hearings. Who was it that said be careful what you wish for?

I do not know what those three Irishmen were doing in Columbia. Like everyone else I have read that the IRA denied that it sent them. When the IRA makes a public statement( a very rare event) it usually carries a lot of weight. I have also read Gerry Adams statement that ” Sinn Fein has no case to answer”. And that is all I essentially know about the whole sorry mess.

But I do know some elements – on Capitol Hill and in Ireland, north and south — are doing their best to exploit it. And that is very sad. Peace should come before partisan politics.

Fr. Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
PO Box 15128
Capitol Hill