Posted By: May 22, 2011

The Editor
The Irish Times
Saturday, May21, 2011
Dear Madam,
If Oscar Wilde’s maxim is right – “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about ”–
then , I guess, from the point of view of my book, I should not be too concerned about Richard English’s review of my Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland.
The main thrust of his review, “Righteously right in Irish America”(May 21) is that my book, “really focuses on human-rights abuses only as practiced by the UK and the unionists. It does not dwell, for example, on the IRA’s abuse of humans and violation of their rights in the Troubles”.
Get real, Mr. English. The IRA was not a government, with which the US had diplomatic relations. Mr. English would be the first to argue that the IRA actions were criminal and the police must handle crime. Why, then, should I spend 40 years lobbying the US Congress on crime? What could the Congress do about the IRA?
Ban the sale of US weapons to them as we had done to the RUC in 1979? Vote to refuse FBI training to any IRA member who had been involved in human rights violations – as we had done to the police? Could Congress, perhaps, have recalled the US Ambassador to the IRA?
One only has to raise these hypotheticals to show the invalidity of Mr. English’s position. My job was to get the US to put pressure on the British government. When the IRA becomes the government of Ireland, and violates human rights, then I will lobby the US to put pressure on them. Hope that keeps Mr. English happy.

Mr. English also claims “McManus’s book also displays no sense of respect for the political rights of unionists…” Yet informed readers have remarked that my book does not contain one sectarian sentence, and that they are impressed that I devoted the entire last chapter to the “ political rights” of the brave Unionist/Protestant, Raymond Mc Cord of Belfast.

As regards Mr. English’s barb that I present myself as, “ righteously right”. Let me first say that only God is righteous. And for all my many faults, self-righteousness is not one of them. Maybe Mr. English is here feeding into the stereotype that anything to do with America is fundamentalist and self-righteous. He writes, “ Mc Manus’s book is a lightly written account of his campaigns”. “ Lightly” hardly computes with self-righteousness, which is heavy and moody. But that aside, he is correct that my book gives an account of my campaigns: to get President Jimmy Carter to speak up for Irish human rights, to ban the sale of US weapons to the RUC, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, visas for Irish Republicans, the MacBride Principles, etc. My format for giving the account of all those “campaigns” is, naturally, to also mention those who opposed them — otherwise the accounts would be totally lacking, and I would have had no “ struggle”.
However, Mr. English then unfairly goes on to conflate that into: “As a result, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ends up being less persuasive than it might have been. And it tends to present other Irish people as having been repeatedly wrong during the past 40 years, while McManus himself emerges again and again as having been righteously right. Unionists are (of course) presented as misguided. But so, in many of the pages of this very readable book, are Irish governments, the republican movement, John Hume and the SDLP, the Irish Catholic Church and the Irish Embassy in the US, as well as many individuals within Irish America”.

I was simply putting on record those who opposed our “campaigns”, for whatever reason. Surely there is a difference between prevailing against all odds and saying, “ I was right and all the others are wrong”.
That is simply a caricature of my carefully documented book, as I am sure objective readers will recognize.

Finally, I think Mr. English shows his hand when he uses the following to question my basic analysis of how and why the State for Northern Ireland was set up by the (British) Government of Ireland Act 1920 : “…his own politics have leaned very much towards the republican, as is evident from his analysis of Northern Ireland: ‘This artificial state had a twofold purpose: to ensure a continuation of Britain’s foothold on the island of Ireland, and to place the unionists/loyalist/Protestants in a permanent position of supremacy’ ”.

Why should he claim this is only a “republican” view?
Who really can question it? And that in no way, diminishes my support for The Good Friday Agreement ..