MacBride Principles

The MacBride Principles – The Essence

Posted By: March 28, 2013

By Father Sean McManus

President, Irish National Caucus

Updated February 2001

There are 69 United States companies (with over 9 employees) doing business in Northern Ireland and many of them — because of the systematic practice and endemic nature of anti-Catholic discrimination — had been subsidizing discrimination. (However, since the MacBride Campaign began, 58 companies have agreed to “make all lawful efforts to implement the fair employment practices embodied in the MacBride Principles” in their Northern Ireland operations).


Systematic Discrimination

Since the British government undemocratically and violently created the State of Northern Ireland in 1920, Catholics have been discriminated against in almost every way, particularly in employment. All their many protests failed because the effectiveness of protests depended on the good faith of previous British governments. That good faith was not there (I make an exception for the current British Government, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair).
What was needed, therefore, was a campaign that did not depend on the good faith of the British government, but on the fairness of the American people and the leverage of their investment and purchasing dollars… Hence, the MacBride Principles. The Principles were initiated, proposed and launched by the Irish National Caucus in November 1984.

The MacBride Principles

The MacBride Principles — consisting of nine fair employment principles — are a corporate code of conduct for U.S. Companies doing business in Northern Ireland and have become the Congressional standard for all U.S. aid to, or economic dealings with, Northern Ireland. The Principles do not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment (the withdrawal of U.S. Companies from Northern Ireland) or disinvestment (the withdrawal of funds now invested in firms with operations in Northern Ireland). The Caucus positively encourages non-discriminatory U.S. investment in Northern Ireland.
The MacBride Campaign is conducted on a three-fold level:


(1) Federal- The MacBride Principles became the law of the U.S. in October 1998. The U.S. House and Senate passed the MacBride Principles — as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 — and President Clinton signed them into law. The MacBride law mandates that recipients of U.S. contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) must be in compliance with the MacBride Principles. (The U.S. has been contributing about $19.6 million per year since 1986 to the IFI.)

(2) State and Cities- Millions of dollars in State and City pension and retirement funds are invested in American corporations doing business in Northern Ireland. The MacBride Campaign lobbies to have legislation passed to direct these funds to be invested, in the future, only in companies that endorse the Principles (again, note, not divestment or disinvestments). This is the first step. The second step — once the MacBride Principles investment law has been passed — is to get a contract compliance law passed.

(3) Shareholder Resolutions- The Campaign works to have Shareholders pass resolutions endorsing the Principles.


 Impressive Support for Campaign

The MacBride Principles have been passed in the following 18 States:

Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and California .

The Principles have been passed or endorsed by over 40 Cities, and are pending in many more.

The Principles have been endorsed by the following organizations or individuals: the Irish Government:

  • The Reverend Jesse Jackson; Randall Robinson of Trans Africa — the group that sponsored Nelson Mandela’s visit to the United States

  • New York State Governor George Pataki

  • Former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo

  • New York City Mayor Rudolth Giuliani

  • Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins

  • Former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn (and former Ambassador to the Vatican)

  • The AFL-CIO; the National Council of Churches

  • The American Baptist Convention

  • The Episcopal Church

  • The Lutheran Pension Board

  • The United Church of Christ Board of World Ministries

  • The United Methodist Church

  • Many U.S. Catholic bishops

  • And by virtually all Irish-American organizations.


The MacBride Principles have been the most effective American campaign on Ireland since Partition. It has provided Irish-Americans with a direct, meaningful and non-violent means of addressing discrimination in Northern Ireland. No longer does one hear the British Government or others telling Irish-Americans to “mind their own business.” It is our business to mind what our investment dollars and foreign aid are doing in Northern Ireland.
The MacBride Principles are non-violent, morally correct, politically effective and our duty as responsible investors.


The author is President of the Irish National Caucus (INC). The INC is the Irish Lobby on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. It is non-violent and non-sectarian. It has no foreign principal and does not support, morally or financially, any group or party in any part of Ireland. It does not send money to Ireland. All its funds are raised and spent in the United States.

THE MacBride PRINCIPLES – The List
initiated, proposed, and launched by
the Irish National Caucus in November 1984
(Amplifications issued by Sean MacBride in 1986 appear in plain text)

(1)  Increasing the representation of individuals, from underrepresented religious groups in the workforce, including managerial, supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs.
A workforce that is severely unbalanced may indicate prima facie that full equality of opportunity is not being afforded all segments of the community in Northern Ireland. Each signatory to the MacBride Principles must make every reasonable lawful effort to increase the representation of underrepresented religious groups at all levels of its operations in Northern Ireland.

(2)  Adequate security for the protection of minority employees at the workplace.
While total security can be guaranteed nowhere today in Northern Ireland, each signatory to the MacBride Principles must make reasonable good faith efforts to protect workers against intimidation and physical abuse at the workplace. Signatories must also make reasonable good faith efforts to ensure that applicants are not deterred from seeking employment because of fear for their personal safety at the workplace.

(3)  Banning provocative sectarian or political emblems from the workplace.
Each signatory to the MacBride Principles must make reasonable good faith efforts to prevent the display of provocative sectarian emblems at their plants in Northern Ireland.

(4)  Providing that all job openings be advertised publicly and providing that special recruitment efforts be made to attract applicants from underrepresented religious groups.
Signatories to the MacBride Principles must exert special efforts to attract employment applications from
the sectarian community that is substantially underrepresented in the workforce. This should not be construed to imply a diminution of opportunity for other applicants.

(5) Providing that layoff, recall and termination procedures do not favor a particular religious group,
Each signatory to the MacBride Principles must make reasonable good faith efforts to ensure that layoff, recall and termination procedures do not penalize religious groups disproportionately. Layoff and termination practices that involve seniority solely can result in discrimination against a particular religious group if the bulk of employees with greatest seniority are disproportionately from another religious group.

(6) Abolishing job reservations, apprenticeships restrictions and differential employment criteria which discriminate on the basis of religion,
Signatories to the MacBride Principles must make reasonable good faith efforts to abolish all differential employment criteria whose effect is discrimination on the basis of religion. For example, job reservations and apprenticeship regulations that favor relatives of current of former employees can, in practice, promote religious discrimination if the company’s workforce has historically been disproportionately drawn from another religious group.

(7) Providing for the development of training programs that will prepare substantial numbers of minority employees for skilled jobs, including the expansion of existing programs and the creation of new programs to train, upgrade and improve the skills of minority employees,
This does not imply that such programs should not be open to all members of the workforce equally.

(8) Establishing procedures to assess, identify and actively recruit minority employees with the potential for further advancement,
This section does not imply that such procedures should not apply to all employee equally.

(9) Providing for the appointment of a senior management staff member to be responsible for the employment efforts of the entity and, within a reasonable period of time, the implementation of the principles described above.
In addition to the above, each signatory to the MacBride Principles is required to report annually to an independent monitoring agency on its progress in the implementation of these Principles.


 Cities and Counties :


The following Cities and Counties have passed MacBride Principles Legislation:

Albany County*(NY)
Baltimore (MD)
Binghamton (NY)
Boston (MA)
Burlington (UT)
Chicago (IL)
Cleveland* (OH)
Detroit (MI)
Hartford (CT)
Kansas City (MO)
Lackawanna County (PA)
Monroe, Orange City (NY)
Minneapolis (MN)
New Haven (CT)
New York* (NY)
Omaha (NE)
Philadelphia (PA)
Philadelphia (PA)
Rensselaer* (NY)
Rochester* (NY)
San Francisco (CA)
Scranton* (PA)
Saint Louis (MO)
Saint Paul (MN)
Springfield (MA)
Tucson (AZ)
Washington (DC)
Wilmington (DE)

(*Denotes cities that have also passed contract compliance legislation on the MacBride Principles)

The Following Cities and Counties have passed resolutions endorsing the MacBride Principles:

Bucks City (PA)
Bridgeport (CT)
Cambridge (MA)
Carbondale (PA)
Chicago (IL)
Honolulu (HI)
Lawrence (MA)
Nashua (NH)
Orangetown (NY)
Portland (ME)
Providence (RI)
Rockland County (NY)
Union City (NJ)
West Caldwell (NJ)
Westchester County (NY)
Worcester (MA)
Yonkers (NY)

Internationally:

The Irish Government; the British Labor Party
Major sections of the British and Irish trade union movements
Nobel Peace Prize Winner and co-founder of the Peace People,
Mairead Corrigan of Belfast

Religious Leaders, Organizations and Pension Funds:

American Baptist Convention
American Baptist Churches, USA
Archdiocese of Manchester, New Hampshire
Archdiocese of New York
Cardinal O’Connor
Christian Brothers Investment Services
Church Women United
Episcopal Church in America
Florida Catholic Conference
Franciscan Friars
Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility
Leadership Conference of Religious Women (a coalition of 250 Protestant and Catholic denominations)
Lutheran Pension Board
National Council of Churches
Oblate Fathers
Sisters of Charity of New York and New Jersey
Sisters of Dominic of Sensiniwa, WI; Caldwell, NJ; Adrian, MI and Sparkill, NY.
Society of Atonement
Society of Jesus
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Methodist Church
United Church of Christ Board of World Ministries

Recently the Protestant and Catholic Churches in Ireland joined with the
Protestant and Catholic Churches of the United States of America and
Issued a call for Fair Employment and Investment in Northern Ireland.
This is what they said about the MacBride Principles:

“Many Americans support the MacBride Principles, as amplified, as good faith, nonviolent means to promote fair employment. We urge that any support of these amplified principles, which offer positive values and focus on fair employment, be joined with continued support for strong fair employment measures and an active commitment to investment and job creation. The amplified principles, as many of their advocates agree, should not be used to discourage investment or encourage disinvestments.”

In March, 1994, the European Parliament issued a Report on discrimination in Northern Ireland. The Report stated that American pressure was “responsible for reopening the question of discrimination in Northern Ireland. . . .”
This Report also states that “Northern Ireland Catholics see the worldwide
‘MacBride Principles’ campaign as a great source of support in overcoming
their problems and [this Report] endorses the campaign’s moral principles. . . .”

Organized Labor in America:

AFL-CIO
Irish-American Labor Coalition
National Education Association

Major Non-religious, Private Institutional Shareholders:

Ford Foundation Pension Fund
Radcliffe College Pension Fund
Franklin Research and Development Corporation
Wellesley College Pension Fund
Georgetown University Pension Fund
Wesleyan University Pension Fund
Harvard University Pension Fund


U.S. COMPANIES AGREEING TO THE MACBRIDE PRINCIPLES
AND DATES OF AGREEMENT
( As of January 2001)

These US Companies have agreed in writing to “make all lawful efforts t o implement the Fair Employment Practices embodied in the MacBride Principles in their Northern Ireland operations (some of these companies no longer operate in Northern Ireland or have been bought by another company).

Overall, there are 120 companies doing business in Northern Ireland. But only 69 publicly-traded companies have more than 10 employees. (It is only publicly-traded companies with over 10 employees that are obliged by British law to keep a statistical breakdown of the workforce by religion.)

COMPANY

DATE

AES Corporation

1996

Alexander & Alexander Services

1991

Allstate Corp.

2000

AM International

1991

American Home Products

1991

AT&T

1992

Avery Dennison

1992

AVX Corporation

1997

Bemis Corporation

2001

Chesapeake Corp

1999

Conoco

1999

Dana Corporation

1995

Data General

1991

Digital Equipment

1989

Donnelly(R.R.)&Sons

1999

DuPont

1992

Emerson Electric

1998

Estee Lauder

1999

Federal Express

1990

Ford Motor Company

1998

Fort James

1998

Fruit of the Loom

1991

GATX Corporation

1993

General Electric

1998

General Motors

1995

Honeywell

1990

Household International

1998

Hyster (NACCO Industries)

1991

IBM

1992

Keyspan Energy

1997

McDonald’s Corporation

1994

Marsh and McClennan

1994

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M Corp)

1996

Northern Telecom (BCE Corporation)

1993

NYNEX

1990

Oneida

1991

Petsmart

1999

Phillip Morris

1995

Pitney Bowes

1990

Procter & Gamble

1991

Reynolds Metals

1994

Sara Lee

1991

Shaw Industries

1996

Sonoco

1991

Sun Healthcare

1999

Teleflex

1991

Texaco

1991

Toys ‘R’ Us

1999

Tyco International

1994

Unisys

1993

United Technologies

2001

Verizon

2000

VF Corporation

1992

Viacom

1999

Warnaco

1995

Waste Management

1998

Westinghouse Electric

1995

Xerox Corporation

1996