RUC Killing of Irish-American

Posted By: December 03, 2006

RUC Killing of Irish-American

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 sonŠ”

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

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”.