Irish National Caucus

Working for justice and praying for peace in Ireland... WELCOME TO THE IRISH NATIONAL CAUCUS BLOG Ceade Mile Failte -- hundred thousand welcomes! We believe the U.S. has a vital role to play by applying a single -- not a double-standard in its foreign policies towards human rights in Ireland. In particular, we believe the U.S. must not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland. That is why the Irish National Caucus in 1984 initiated the MacBride Principles.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The MacBride Principles at 25

Dr. Sean MacBride and Fr. Sean McManus in New York in the spring of 1976, eight years before the announcement of the MacBride Principles.

MacBride Principles Honoree Fr. Sean McManus

December 9, 2009 Irish Echo

Father Sean Mc Manus was born February 6, 1944 in the townland of Clonliff, in the parish of Kinawley, County Fermanagh. The parish of Kinawley is divided by the Border and is partly in Fermanagh and partly in Swanlinbar, County Cavan.

Fr. Mc Manus has stated: "England not only divided my country, but my parish as well, for Heaven's sake, you don't have to be a political genius to figure out why I have such an abhorrence for the injustice and absurdity of partition".

Fr. McManus joined the London Province of the Redemptorist Order and was ordained in 1968. When the Troubles erupted, McManus, in his own words, felt he could not be silent lest he be complicit with British government injustices.

He began to publicly speak out. The British government put pressure on the English Hierarchy and The Redemptorists to silence him. When he refused to be silent, he was shipped off to America on October 2, 1972.

From 1972 to 1978 he carried out parish work in Baltimore and Boston.

On February 6, 1974, Fr. McManus founded the Irish National Caucus. In 1977 he played a key role in the formation of the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, chaired the press conference on Capitol Hill that launched the committee, and outlined the reasons why Congressman Mario Biaggi was selected the chairman. Biaggi and other representatives participated in that ground breaking press conference.

In 1978, Fr. McManus was given church permission to enter a "Special Ministry of Justice and Peace." On December 10, 1978, he opened the office of the Irish National Caucus, the first ever on Capitol Hill to lobby for justice in Ireland.

In November, 1984, Fr. McManus announced the launching of the MacBride Principles, named after his good friend, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Sean MacBride.

Fr. Mc Manus Honored On 25 Th. Anniversary Of Mac Bride Principles

On December 8, 2009 the Irish Echo held a 25th, Anniversary celebration of the Mac Bride Principles.

The event was all the more prestigious in that it took place in New York City Hall, and presided over by Christine Quinn, Speaker of the City Council.

Fr. Mc Manus – along with his colleague in the Mac Bride struggle, Pat Doherty – was honored.

Here is Fr. Mc Manus’s acceptance speech, plus articles from the Irish Echo.

Acceptance Speech At New York City Hall Fr. Sean Mc Manus. December 8, 2009

In 1795 Thomas Paine wrote: “An Army of Principles Will Penetrate Where an Army of Soldiers Cannot” (Agrarian Justice. Pamphlet was written in 1975, published in 1797).

I think that perfectly applies to the Mac Bride Principles.

The Principles penetrated the previously UNPENETRATABLE bastion of anti-Catholic discrimination -- the Northern Ireland State.

In the early years of our campaign, our opponents used to tell us to mind our own business – they clearly did not subscribe to Martin Luther King’s dictum: “ Injustice anywhere is an affront to justice everywhere”. But when our campaign began to take effect, they stopped telling us to mind our own business – because when Americans make sure that U.S. dollars are not subsidizing anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland, they are minding their own business.

It is generally accepted that Martin Luther King’s movement would not have succeeded without Jewish-American support. And the Mac Bride Principles would not have succeeded without Jewish-American support.

Just look at the record:

In July 1979, Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY commissioned the Irish National Caucus to conduct an investigation of the U.S. companies in Northern Ireland.

We then planned to have our principle, “United States dollars should not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland”, enshrined into law. In 1983, Congressman Dick Ottinger introduced Bill HR 3465: “Requiring United States persons who conduct business or control enterprises in Northern Ireland to comply with certain fair employment principles.” We had, of course, modeled the Ottinger Bill on the Sullivan Principles.

Our activity got a lot of attention and soon many State and City officials who wanted to join our campaign contacted us: most notably, New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin and Council Member Sal Albanese (who introduced the very first Mac Bride Bill in the entire United States).

Comptroller Goldin went on to provide magnificent support and economic muscle for the Mac Bride Principles until he left office in 1989. His successors, Liz Holtzman (1990- 1993) and Alan Hevesi (1994-2001), continued to provide indispensable support for the Mac Bride Principles.

My dear friend, Congressman Ben Gilman, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, championed our campaign in the Congress and the Mac Bride Principles (despite very powerful opposition) became US law in 1998.

So you can easily see the importance of Jewish-American support.

Since 2002, Comptroller Thompson has provided magnificent leadership on the Mac Bride Principles. And here, again, is something that has touched me deeply: the support of African-Americans, who know a thing or two about discrimination. Along with Comptroller Thompson, the other names that immediately come to mind are Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, one of our very earliest supporters, and Congressman Don Payne of New Jersey.

I have already mentioned Sal Albanese and the key role he played in our campaign. But one cannot mention American activity on behalf of Ireland without mentioning that other great Italian, Congressman Mario Biaggi, who for many ears was our key ally in Congress.

Isn’t it very striking? The elected officials who led the campaign to end anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland were not Irish- Americans, but Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Hispanic Americans and others! To me, that is the great moral lesson of the Mac Bride Campaign.

God bless America and God save Ireland.

The MacBride Principles at 25
By Irish Echo Staff

December 9, 2009
Silver is the appropriate gift for a 25th anniversary and in the case of the MacBride Principles it is an especially appropriate element give the fact that the campaign that carried the MacBride name had, at its core, much to do with silver and its equitable distribution in a society where equity was the name of the actor's union and little else.

Though a statement of principles, the fair employment guidelines bearing the name of Dr. Sean MacBride were more than just a list of standards and directions.

As it turned out, they would be pointers to a greater society and better future for all the people of Northern Ireland. Though partition and the opposing desire for a united Ireland were at the heart of the years dominated by the Troubles, it was the deep-rooted inequality in Northern Ireland that was the fuse that lit the powder keg in the late 1960s.

It would be not until some years later that a means of significantly diffusing the violence in Northern Ireland would take form in the nine statements of principle that would bear the name of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Sean MacBride.

The MacBride campaign, at its core and in its intent was, and remains, an effort by, of and for people.

It was intended to make life better for all the people of Northern Ireland. It was fueled and guided by people here in the United States, some of them professional politicians and leading legal minds, but most of them just regular people, Irish Americans with a strong instinct for detecting injustice, and an even stronger desire to pus aside that injustice.

There are far too many people to say thank you to for the work of the past 25 years. Some are known only to themselves. But we do say thank you, the "we" in this case being all those who have worked over this span of years for the Irish Echo, a paper that supported the MacBride campaign from day one.

In place of all, but in being representative of all, we are honoring a select group of people this week, both in this issue and at a special event at New York City Hall. As well as past and present comptrollers of New York City and State, we are also particularly honoring Fr. Sean McManus and Pat Doherty, generals both in a campaign given life and force by many, many foot soldiers.

Together they brought profound change to a part of the world we hold dear. Their effort will, we are certain, inspire others in the years ahead to build on the achievements of a campaign that is truly a model for other lands where justice is still held at bay by the foes of fairness.


By Fr. Sean McManus

Irish Echo. December 9, 2009 This article on the MacBride Principles could be subtitled, "Ode to Jewish-American Politicians" because it praises their key and intriguing role in the genesis and history of the principles.

The principles were "conceived" in August 1979, "born" in June 1983 and "christened" in November 1984.

The Irish National Caucus opened its Capitol Hill office in 1978 and one of our first declared objectives was to "stop United States dollars subsidizing anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland."

In July, 1979, Congressman Ben Gilman, a New York Republican, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, commissioned the Irish National Caucus to conduct an investigation of those U.S. companies doing business in Northern Ireland.

We traveled to Ireland at the end of July, 1979. Our visit received heavy press coverage and the reaction of the usual suspects was, "why don't they mind their own business?" Ironic indeed as our point was that American dollars was American business.

But we also had another mission of equal importance to the genesis of the MacBride Principles: to establish in Dublin the Irish National Caucus Liaison Group to be chaired by Sean MacBride.

It should be apparent that in these two Caucus initiatives - investigation of U.S. companies in Northern Ireland and Sean MacBride becoming chairman of our liaison group in Ireland - were sown the seeds of the MacBride Principles. Hence, the MacBride Principles were indeed conceived in 1979 even if they were not apparent.

We next planned to have our guiding principle, that "United States dollars should not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland," enshrined into law.

In 1983, we succeeded in having a bill introduced into the house of Representatives, HR 3465. It was headlined "Requiring United States persons who conduct business or control enterprises in Northern Ireland to comply with certain fair employment principles."

It was modeled on the Sullivan Principles for South Africa and we made it known as the "Ottinger Bill" after its chief sponsor, Congressman Dick Ottinger, a New York Democrat.

To promote the Ottinger Bill, the Caucus, in August 1983, sponsored a visit to Northern Ireland by Congressman Ottinger. We were accompanied by Bob Blancato, who represented our key ally, the redoubtable Congressman Mario Biaggi, chairman of the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, which the Caucus had initiated in 1977. Again, the usual suspects roared, telling Ottinger and myself to mind our own business.

Although the bill did not pass, it was of singular importance because it perfectly framed our issue, and contained in essence the principles we would later call the MacBride Principles. So, the MacBride Principles were born in 1983.

The Ottinger visit to Northern Ireland served as a watershed in our campaign. Soon, numerous state and city officials contacted us to join our campaign, most notably New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin and Council Member Sal Albanese, who would introduce the first MacBride law into the New York City Council.

The Caucus saw the need not only to involve United States legislators, but also institutional investors in our campaign. As New York City Comptroller, Goldin was one of the custodians of millions of dollars of New York City funds invested in a number of United States companies doing business in Northern Ireland.

We eagerly welcomed him to the campaign. We worked with his office on issuing a new set of principles, which like the Ottinger Bill , were also based on The Sullivan Principles. On October 18, 1984, I formally wrote to Sean MacBride proposing and enclosing the principles, and asking his permission to name them after him.

In November, 1984, the Irish National Caucus announced the launching of the "MacBride Principles." Thus the principles were "christened."

The Irish Echo captured the historic moment with the headline: "Caucus Proposes New Initiative to Stop Discrimination in Northern Ireland." This was in the November 10, 1984 issue.

The Sunday Tribune in Dublin had reported on November 4: "The nine-point employment code, which was drawn up by the Washington based Irish National Caucus is sponsored by Sean MacBride S.C., those letters being the indication that MacBride was a barrister with the rank of Senior Counsel in the Irish courts system.

That was the very first occasion that MacBride Principles were mentioned by name in the Irish or American media.

Comptroller Goldin went on to provide magnificent support and economic muscle for the MacBride Principles until he left office in 1989. His successors, Liz Holtzman (1990-1993) and Alan Hevesi (1994-2001) and of course current Comptroller William Thompson, continued to provide indispensable support for the MacBride Principles.

My dear friend, Congressman Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, championed our campaign in the Congress over the years and the MacBride Principles became U.S. law in 1998.

Therefore, I am sure WB Yeats would understand if I end my "Ode to Jewish-American Politicians" by paraphrasing his famous poem, "Easter, 1916" with, "I write it out in a verse, Gilman, Ottinger, Goldin, Holtzman and Hevesi, Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."

Fr. McManus is the founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Irish National Caucus.

How MacBride united Irish America

By Kevin McNamara

December 9, 2009 On November 4, 1984, the MacBride Principles were published by the Irish National Caucus in Washington. They were nine affirmative action proposals aimed at ending religious discrimination in employment by subsidiaries of U.S. corporations in Northern Ireland.

The announcement was scarcely noted by the media. It was viewed as just another INC publicity stunt by Father McManus and the other usual suspects. It was seen as yet another damp squib doomed to failure because of the reluctance of the U.S. administration to interfere in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom, its most important NATO ally.

Republican representative Ben Gilman's Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs could not get its proposed Northern Ireland legislation out of committee and onto the floor of either the House or Senate. While the Democrats controlled Congress, its leaders listened to the voice John Hume, the SDLP leader, who was vigorously opposed to the MacBride Principles campaign, which he regarded as just another barrier to badly needed investment in war-torn Northern Ireland.

The MacBride campaign, however, took its fight for fair employment policies in Northern Ireland out of the Washington Beltway and into the state houses and city halls across the Union. The most important of the city halls was in New York.

Observing the great success of the Sullivan Principles campaign to bring about regime change and employment practices in apartheid South Africa, suggestions were made that a similar campaign to end discrimination in the North.

New York City Comptroller, Harrison Goldin was attracted to the idea. It fell to the newly recruited Patrick Doherty in Goldin's office to do the necessary research and produce a code of practice for U.S. corporations in the North.

Doherty's research, coupled with the work already done by the INC, resulted in the publication of the MacBride Principles. They had four main sponsors, Dr. Sean MacBride, Nobel Peace Prize winner and international statesman, Father Brady, a distinguished educationalist and Belfast civil rights activist, Inez McCormack, a union official, and former Irish senator John Robb, a distinguished surgeon.

The fundamental difference between the two sets of principles was that Sullivan deliberately aimed to break South African law whilst MacBride only sought the actual full implementation of already existing law and procedures in Northern Ireland.

The MacBride campaign was fought on two fronts. The first was to persuade pension funds and other institutional investors with funds in U.S. corporations with subsidiaries in Northern Ireland to put down resolutions at corporation AGMs urging them to implement the MacBride Principles as part of their employment policies.

The second was to persuade state and city governments to support the MacBride Campaign and, depending upon the degree of support, to adopt legislation making it a condition for any company seeking state or city contracts to accept the principles and the add on of contract compliance.

When Doherty gave the British Information Service in New York a copy of the principles, the initial response was to congratulate Doherty on his research and to accept his conclusions.

When New York city Councilor Sal Albanese proposed the city adopt MacBride legislation, including contract compliance, the British policy performed a complete U-turn.

Sensing a threat to all British companies trading in North America and driven by officials in the department of economic development at Stormont, the British line was now that the principles were "illegal, unnecessary and counter-productive."

The British government embarked on an unprecedented campaign, centered on the BIS in New York, to undermine the MacBride campaign and its supporters. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, it denied that employment discrimination existed in the North.

Because Noraid was an early supporter of the campaign, the British government sought to portray the campaign's supporters as either covert sympathizers of IRA terrorists, or well-meaning simpletons who were being led astray by those who should have known better.

The British did not understand Irish America. As Joe Jamison of the Irish American Labor Coalition pointed out, that, as a result of being appalled by the violence in the North, angered by the treatment of the hunger strikers and dismayed at the indifference of the federal government, the MacBride campaign gave Irish America a single issue around which to unite.

It was an opportunity to demonstrate in a peaceful and constitutional manner its continuing concern at the lack of any meaningful social and political movement in the North.

With the Ancient Order of Hibernians often in the lead, across the Union Irish Americans mobilized to influence local and national legislators. Within months of their publication, the AFL-CIO had adopted the principles. The British policy of opposing state and city legislation was self-defeating.

Every local committee hearing became a close examination of British policy in Northern Ireland, educating, alerting and uniting Irish-America in its determination to see change in the North. Northern Ireland was not being debated on the Hill, but it was in every state across the Union, Massachusetts being the first state to legislate on MacBride.

In 1986, supported by religious orders with only small shareholdings, Goldin, wielding millions of dollars of shares held by the New York City pension funds, put down MacBride resolutions for various company AGMs.

The companies sought the advice of the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to agree that they did not have to put such resolutions on the agenda as they were being asked to implement policy contrary to Northern Ireland law.

The SEC gave such advice to American Brands. Its Northern Ireland subsidiary, Gallagher's, had an overwhelmingly protestant workforce. In 1986, Goldin challenged American Brands in federal court. The judge held that the MacBride Principles were not contrary to Northern Ireland law. Although the British government was to battle for another decade against implementation of the MacBride Principles, it had lost the crucial fight in court.

When the Democrats lost control of Congress in the mid 1990s, Ben Gilman amendments to successive foreign aid bills Incorporated the MacBride Principles, now known as the principles of economic justice.

President Clinton vetoed the first bill because it contained unacceptable cuts in foreign aid. He later instructed his representative on the International Fund for Ireland to act as if the MacBride Principles were in operation.In 1998, when the Gilman amendments reappeared, they became part of federal law. Father McManus's long years of campaigning on Capitol Hill had borne fruit.

The MacBride Principles are important in themselves, but the campaign for there implementation also marked the awakening of an Irish America, one able to overcome its own internal problems, jealousies and splits to unite on a single issue, this to influence the federal government to disregard the wishes of its closest ally.

For the first time, Irish America had forced the hand of the British government to alter legislation and policy in Ireland. Despite the charisma of Father McManus and the tenacity and organizing genius of Patrick Doherty, the campaign would not have succeeded without the initial support and encouragement of Harrison Goldin and his successor comptrollers of New York City.

Not one of them was Irish, but they all shared a common belief in the dignity and equality of individual human beings and sought to use their power and influence to achieve that end, not only endorsing the MacBride Principles, but campaigning actively for their success.

A Member of Parliament for nearly 40 years, Kevin McNamara was the longest serving Labor Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Born Liverpool Irish, McNamara was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. He won a state scholarship to Hull University where he studied law. Elected to parliament in a by-election in January, 1966, McNamara became known as one of the most vigorous defenders of the Irish cause in the House of Commons. Upon his retirement, he completed his Ph.D. on the MacBride Principles at the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University where he is now a Fellow. Married with four sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren, McNamara's grandparents hailed from Mayo, Louth, Meath and Down. His wife Nora's family is from County Clare.



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