RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress

Posted By: March 29, 2013

December 2, 2006

To Become Issue in New Congress Capitol Hill. December 2, 2006—-The 1998 RUC-killing of an American- born Belfast man is set to become a hot issue in the New Congress that will convene in early January 2007.

John Hemsworth was born in Kearney, New Jersey, on November 13, 1958 and after a few years the family moved back to Northern Ireland. As a young man, John would return to work in New Jersey for several years at different times. And in 1998, John had planned to return permanently to America, with his wife and young daughter. But police violence and anti-Catholic sectarianism destroyed this young Irish-American’s dream. On January 1, 1998 John died in Belfast as a result of brutal and unprovoked beating by the now defunct RUC.

Arouse Conscience of Irish-America ” We must arouse the conscience of Irish-Americans. It is a disgrace that the killing of this Irish-American has received such little attention, and it is an outrage that his family has received no justice”, said Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus.

Fr. Mc Manus revealed that he was stricken with guilt when he received a letter in September from John’s 72-year-old father, Michael, in Belfast imploring help: “Š The British Attorney General promised the family that we would have an inquest into my son’s death but eight years have passed and nothing has happened. I wrote many, many letters to American politicians but not one gave me the courtesy of even an acknowledgement. It is hurtful that some of these politicians and the President’s envoy can meet relatives of victims of the violence but never had the time to meet me. You would think that being the Father of a natural born American would be enough to give me preference. President Clinton once said, ‘

America looks after its own’ but sadly this is not the case for my son”

Haunting Words Fr. Mc Manus expressed regret that he had not received the letter sooner but vowed to now take up the issue:” Can any self-respecting Irish-American read these haunting words of Michael Hemsworth and not feel compelled to do justice for his son? Irish-Americans have done many fine things for Ireland, now they must do justice for one of their own. And shame on us if don’t”.

Fr. Mc Manus is launching a campaign in the US Congress – with special attention to the New Jersey delegation – and will also pursue the issue with Dr. Mitchell Reiss, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.

Plan of Campaign

Fr. Mc Manus explained the plan: ” (1) We want American pressure to make the British Government keep its promise to hold an inquest; (2) we want the Northern Ireland Ombudsman Office to re-open the case (to which it previously gave insufficient attention, according to the Hemsworths); (3) we want all Irish -American groups to rally to this cause, and we ask the international human rights community to take up the issue.”

Fr. Mc Manus concluded by saying: ” I have a lot of confidence in Special Envoy, Mitchell Reiss.

He has shown great interest in individual cases, like Pat Finucane, and I’m sure once he is fully aware of the John Hemsworth case he will give it due attention and hopefully help to fulfill President Clinton’s words, ” America looks after its own”.