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.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


“… Sean had stood out against powerful forces in a fight for justice and fairness. I
didn’t always agree with the causes he supported but I admired his persistence, his
courage, his relentlessness. And admiration that one person, almost alone, could
make such impact on public policy in the United States”.

-- Vincent Browne

Friday, April 22, 2011


Tuesday, April 19, 2011



Michael D.Higgins Greets Fr. Sean

Michael D. Higgins former TD, and now running for Irish Presidency.



Con Collins, Collin's Press, addresses the guests.


Fr. Sean with twin nephews Brian and Crosby O'Hare and Brian's son Liam. Brian and family traveled from their home in Barcelona, and Crosby journeyed from Manhattan.



Monday, April 11, 2011

Human Rights Champion Set for West Belfast Book Launch

Andersonstown News Monday

West Belfast-based victims’ group Relatives for Justice are hosting the launch of Fr Sean McManus’s memoirs in Belfast next week.
‘My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland’ is the new book by the founder of the Washington DC Irish National Caucus.
Fr McManus, who will be in West Belfast for the launch, has dedicated his life to championing the cause of truth, justice, equality and peace in Ireland by using his influence on American political and social life for positive change in Ireland.
Speaking in advance of the launch, which takes place in the Cultúrlann on Saturday, April 9 at 1pm, RFJ Director Mark Thompson said for four decades Fr McManus has worked tirelessly and campaigned on key justice, equality and human rights issues relating to the North of Ireland.
“Despite being at times a lone voice, and facing a British government with endless human and financial resources at its disposal in Washington DC, Fr Sean never faltered or was deterred in his work,” he said.
“This is a credit to his character and resilience, for it could never have been easy against these odds. Irish people the world over have tremendous admiration for his work, his energy, his drive and passion to right wrong.
“The counter-challenge of his work by the British in Washington DC was met head-on by Fr Sean where he regularly took on and exposed the propaganda and misinformation of the British government by shining a light – the light of truth – creating awareness and providing a voice for those affected by British policy in Ireland who were also marginalised.
“He has worked closely with key influential members of the US Congress and Senate securing Congressional hearings and political interventions, many of which were, and are, a catalyst for progressive change.”
Mark said for the families, who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British state Fr Sean was the people's champion and a person of great integrity on whom they could always rely to fight their corner.
“Importantl,y Fr Sean ensured our representation and participation at key events, and hearings down the years on Capitol Hill (Washington),” he continued.
“Fr Sean ensured that impunity for human rights violations in the North was and is challenged.
“Fr Sean has built alliances, partnerships, and through his dedicated work forged close friendships with the great and the good of America and Irish-Americans, all the time bringing to the attention of the American public the cause of equal rights, justice and peace in Ireland.”
RFJ Chairperson Clara Reilly recalled the first time she met Fr Sean, in the 1970s in Washington with the younger sister of Martin Forsythe, who was killed by the RUC.
“Fr Sean facilitated a meeting for us with members of the US Congress and Senate where we also raised the issue of rubber and plastic bullets and the killing of young Brian Stewart,” recalled Clara.
“I was a member of the Association for Legal Justice (ALJ) and over the years the link between the ALJ and Fr Sean's work in Washington DC proved to be of vital importance.
“Along with the late Fr Brian Brady, from St Joseph's Training College based at Trench House Andersonstown, with Fr Raymond Murray, the prison chaplain at Armagh, and the late Fr Denis Faul, one of the chaplains at Long Kesh, a formidable team of clerics and lay-people networked across the Atlantic to Irish America.
“Fr Sean was a beacon of hope in Washington's Capitol Hill where he raised the issues of brutality and torture within the prisons and interrogation centres across the North.
“Saturday, April 9, therefore, is an important day on which we can show our appreciation and support to Fr Sean McManus and his work when he visits Belfast for the launch of his book.
“This book will be a testimony to all that work and a record of those years and thus both historically and currently an important illustration of the journey – the struggle for justice.”


Saturday, April 09, 2011

US Support Cited by Priest

Irish Times. Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The greatest support in the US on issues of injustice, rights and
discrimination in Northern Ireland came from outside the Irish-
American community, campaigner Fr Seán McManus has said.

“Those who helped me most were not Irish and often not Catholic,” Fr
McManus said. “They were Jewish-Americans, Italian-Americans and

His book, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland, was
launched last night at Dublin Castle. Fr McManus has lived in the US
since 1972 and he founded the Irish National Caucus lobby group in 1974.

“Congressman Mario Biaggi is the great Italian example,” he said last
night, “and Congressman Don Payne is the prime African-American

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fr. Sean and Donal Donnely

Two famous authors!

Fr. Sean's Brother Frank Calls the Meeting to Order!!

Frank Mc Manus, Chairman of the Committee for the Dublin Book Launch and older brother of Fr. Sean, calls the Meeting to order.


Vincent Browne, Fr. Sean and Bobby Bellagh

Fr.Sean and Derek Warfield

Fr. Mc Manus’ Dublin launch of his Memoirs, “ My American Struggle
for Justice in Northern Ireland “ (Collins Press, Cork) was a
resounding success.
Held in Dublin Castle -- once the seat of British administration for
the whole of Ireland –it attracted over three hundred guests. Apart
from Fr. Mc Manus, the two speakers were noted journalist and TV
personality Vincent Browne and well-known artist and activist, Bobby
Ballard.Fr. Mc Manus expressed his deep appreciation for each esteemed

Entertainment was provided by Derek Warfield – Young Wolfe Tones.

“ I am so deeply grateful for the great Derek Warfield for offering to
perform for us. He has been a good friend for many years. He is not
only a great balladeer but most importantly a great Dublin patriot who
has never forgotten his roots or his duty to speak up for (not just
sing) for Irish justice”.

Referring to the size of the crowd, Fr. Mc Manus expressed
amazement. : “I could not believe it. It speaks volumes for the
ability of the organizing Committee, headed by my brother, Frank and
Donal Donnelly -- and composed of, among others, Tom Cooper of the
Irish National Congress, Sean Sherwin, John O’ Mahoney, Paddy O’
Regan, Charlie Murphy and John Mc Kay”.

Donal Donelly is the author of the recent book, “ Prisoner
1082” (Collins Press, Cork) about his great escape in 1960 from the
infamous Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast. This is a very important book,
especially for Irish-Americans who want to learn more about the
1956-1962 period.

Fr. Mc Manus’ Speech in Dublin Castle on the Launching of his Memoirs

When I first went to America on October 2, 1972, I assumed that there
were two basic constituencies I could appeal to: The left wing of the
Democratic Party (especially the prominent Irish-American members) and
the Social Gospel wing of the Catholic Bishops Conference.

I knew I had my work cut out for me when Tip O’Neill—in response to my
pressurizing—would put his big hand on my shoulder and say with
evident glee, “Now Fr. Sean, how can you expect me to be more
patriotic than Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave or Taoiseach Jack Lynch?”

But as Speaker (1977 – 1987 )Tip’s collusion with the British
Government would go to extraordinary and appalling lengths.

We got the famed Jack Anderson Column – nationally syndicated and
carried in nearly 1, 000 papers – to expose Tip’s collusion three
times within one year, 1977-1978.

(1) “ Speaker Thomas (Tip) O’ Neill, the big beloved boss of the
House, is as Irish as anyone who ever kissed the Blarney stone. But he
quietly squashed a congressional hearing on alleged British outrages
against the Irish…To dig up atrocities, the speaker pleaded, would
only inflame the already emotional issue. It would be an
“inappropriate” time to stir up trouble over Irish rights, he said”.
(“ Irish Politics”. Jack Anderson and Les Whitten. New York Daily
News. October 21, 1977).

(2) “ Under pressure from two foreign governments, President Carter is
betraying a campaign promise to speak out against human rights
violation committed by British authorities in Northern Ireland. He
made the pledge to…[the Irish National Caucus] in Pittsburgh six days
before the 1976 election, in exchange for their endorsement. Shortly
after Carter took office… the Irish National Caucus… supplied the
White House with 10 documented cases of alleged torture perpetrated by
British security forces against suspected IRA members or sympathizers…
A move to air the charges on Capitol Hill is being thwarted by House
Speaker Tip O’Neill at the behest of the Irish government…An aide told
us that the Speaker, a Carter confidant, was told by prominent members
if the Irish government that an investigation would be
counterproductive. In Dublin’s view, the Irish National Caucus is pro-
I.R.A., and a congressional hearing would signal U.S. support of the
terrorist IRA gunmen”. (“White House Policy”. Jack Anderson.
Washington Post, June 17, 1978).

(3) “ Human rights violations, reported to us by a number of reliable
sources, have put Northern Ireland on an unenviable par with some of
the most barbarous regimes of communist commissars or tinhorn Latin
American dictators. The British are trampling on the rights of Irish
citizen in a manner reminiscent of Oliver Cromwell’s iron-fisted rule
more than three centuries ago…An Ad Hoc Committee of 119 members has
been formed in congress. But the committee’s attempts to publicize the
outrages being committed in Northern Ireland, along with the efforts
of the Irish National Caucus, have been blocked by House Speaker Tip
O’ Neill and other congressional leaders who are reluctant to offend
our British ally”. (“Carter Pressured on Northern Ireland”. Jack
Anderson. Detroit Free Press. October 29, 1978).

Congressional Hearings on British violations of human rights were
banned from 1974 to 1995. If that is not collusion, what is? However,
we must not fail to mention here that that Garret FitzGerald has also
proudly claimed credit for the ban on the Congressional Hearings.

How do you think history is going to judge that collusion?

Now, to my second parable: the collusion of the American Catholic

The Office of International Justice and Peace is the department of the
U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops that would deal with the Northern
Ireland issue.

On January 6,1978, I met with that office. Afterwards I said, “ It was
just like being at the British Embassy. The Office of Justice and
Peace has become the ecclesiastical arm of British propaganda”. As if
to prove my point, that Office would release the following letter:“ It
is the Provos who are mainly responsible for the violence in Northern
Ireland and this is recognized by every careful and impartial
observer… after due consultation with the Irish bishops, and in
recognition of the efforts being made by the governments and church
bodies directly concerned, we [the US Catholic Conference] had
concluded that there is no appropriate basis for public intervention
in the problems of Northern Ireland, either by this conference, or any
branch of the United States government…" (October 17, 1979).

Do you think for a moment the Office of Justice and Peace would have
made such a statement without checking with the Irish Embassy, and
probably with the British Embassy too? Although Irish diplomats may
deny it, I regard that statement as the clearest, most accurate
expression of the policy of the Dublin governments of that time :there
no basis for United States intervention.

In August 1979 the Irish National Caucus led a successful campaign to
have a ban put on the sale of U.S. weapons to the RUC. Well, later on,
in January 1981, Archbishop Hickey of Washington and Bishop Thomas
Kelly, Secretary General of the US Catholic Conference, visited The
White House to urge President Reagan to continue the ban on military
aid to El Salvador.

I wrote to them, urging them to also urge President Reagan to continue
the ban on the sale of US weapons to the RUC.

Archbishop Hickey responded to me saying, "… Bishop Kelly and I will
be in touch with our counterparts in Northern Ireland to seek their
advice in this vexing question. Our intervention will depend on their
response". And Bishop Kelly replied "… We have known of your position
[on the RUC] for some time… In the case of El Salvador, we have been
encouraged to take what action we have taken by the local hierarchy.
We have not, at this time, received such encouragement from the Irish
hierarchy on the subject you have brought to our attention…” (Hickey’s
letter, February 6, 1981; Kelly’s letter, January 29, 1981).

How do you think history will judge that ecclesiastical collusion?

The thing that has made the biggest personal impression on me
regarding my work with the U.S. Congress is that – at least in the
early years -- those who helped me most were not Irish and often not
Catholic. They were Jewish-Americans, Italian-Americans and African-

Congressman Mario Biaggi ( D-NY) is the great Italian example. And
Congressman Don Payne( R-NJ) is the prime African-American example

Many Irish-American Members of Congress were blackmailed into silence
by the London and Dublin governments! “Thou shall not condemn the
Brits, lest you be seen as helping the IRA.”

Here is a simple statement of fact. Big name Irish-Americans did not
lead the charge in pressurizing the British government on injustice in
Northern Ireland.

• Not on the torture of political prisoners

• Not on the shoot-to-kill policy

• Not on anti-Catholic discrimination

• Not on the Birmingham Six or Guilford Four

• Not on the State assassination of Pat Finucane

Indeed, big name Irish-American politicians tried to block our efforts
on these campaigns and tried to sabotage the Mac Bride Principles.

That is a simple statement of fact. The compliant media never
challenged those in Ireland—North and South—who advised those American
politicians to oppose our non-violent campaigns.

And yet, despite this huge opposition, we prevailed. Once the House of
Representatives was no longer controlled by Irish-Catholic Speakers we
got our Hearings and we got the Mac Bride Principles passed, not only
into State law, but also U.S. law. It took a Protestant Speaker, the
conservative Newt Gingrich, to lift the ban on Hearings; and it took a
Jewish-American -- the great Congressman Ben Gilman as Chairman of
the House International Relations Committee -- to schedule many
Hearings. And it took a good Baptist from The Bible Belt, Bill
Clinton, to end the immoral policy of, “ hands off Northern Ireland
lest we offend jolly old England”.

Here is another thing about my American struggle: I was never
supported by big money. No big foundations helped us. No famous
Irish -American rich people helped us significantly. My support came
from the ordinary working class people. That makes me feel good
because with big money comes big strings. And I had no big political
or ecclesiastical strings to hold me down.

God bless America, and God save Ireland.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Fr. Mc Manus on Killing of Policeman

Fr Mc Manus, in Dublin for the launch of his Memoirs, released the following statement :
"I conclude my book , My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland, with this :” I am hopeful for the future of Ireland – the whole island of Ireland. Even though, I think, we have still a long way to go. I believe “the Union” will die on the vine. The only way it can be saved is if the IRA came back into business. One of the great Irish ironies! But it is an irony I hope that patriotic young Irish men and women take heed of: No young Irish person need be killed – or kill -- for full Irish freedom”.

That is why I am now so deeply grieved by the recent death of the young policeman. It was a terrible act, should not have happened and is to be totally condemned.
I appeal to those who did the killing to quit their campaign and to embrace the peace-process, as the only way "forward".

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Ireland's not-so-silent witness in the United States

Fr Sean meets "the greatest" Muhammad Ali.


Friday, 1st April, 2011 9:30am

by Sarah Saunderson

It was the ultimate irony that a Kinawley priest moved to America in the early 1970s to keep him quiet ended up walking the most powerful corridors of the world to see laws passed there as a result of his work.

The Kinawley-born priest Father Sean McManus was sent to the States in 1972 and within years the Irish National Caucus, the lobby group he founded, was based at the heart of the American administration on Washington's Capitol Hill. His name is synonymous with the fair employment code the MacBride Principles which have become enshrined in American legislation.

His record in getting the US to take notice of what is happening this side of the Atlantic has seen him organise for Congressional Hearings for the both Catholic and Protestant families seeking justice.

Born in 1944, he was one of a family of 12 of Celia and Patrick McManus. It was at 16 that he moved to a Junior Seminary in England to train for the priesthood. "Most people in their life receives that call, not necessarily to the ministry but a call to dedicate one's life to a cause greater than their own immediate concern," he said. His move to Shropshire in 1960 came just two years after his 29-year-old brother Patrick, a leading member of the IRA, was killed when a bomb he was transporting exploded prematurely on July 15, 1958.

"Obviously it had a huge effect on the family. Clearly everybody responded differently to it. By itself it would not necessarily explain the call. A lot of people have gotten that call without a traumatic experience. But it certainly meant I had to serve a cause greater than myself. I think that was the essence of a calling. You put your own interest second, third or fourth," he recalled.

Sean was 14 years old when Patrick died. Tender years for such an experience. "Oh yes. Now when I talk to other folk at home, Protestant and Catholic who have experienced traumatic events in their life, it does not really matter what age they were at. It was still a profound experience. You speak to any victim of the Troubles in Northern Ireland Protestant or Catholic they all tell you that you never really recover, you learn to deal with it and keep on going. You never really recover fully on one level. It always haunts you. Having said that as one who believes in everlasting eternal life, I do not see death as the ultimate disaster. I do not have any great fear or hang-up about death itself," he said.

It was in England that he trained and worked before going to the United States in 1972. "That explains my perfect English accent," he laughed. The move across the Atlantic was not entirely of his own volition. "I was removed in a nice combination of Church and State action. I was speaking out about the situation back home," he said. "That was an absolute taboo in those days. In England you could not do that as an Irish priest. I could have gone into Hyde Park [to Speaker's Corner] and talked about anything and everything but one thing you could not talk about was the North. That was a long tradition that an Irish priest will not say anything about the Government," he said.

He got courage to say the unsayable was due to a "commitment to justice". "I wasn't concerned about my ecclesiastical career. In my mind I never wanted to be a Bishop or a Cardinal. I was free because I had no shackles," he said. But looking back 40 years ago, he admits as a young member of a religious order there was a "huge pressure to toe the line and not rock the boat".

The move to America was "absolutely, exclusively and specifically" to keep him quiet.

"In trying to shut me up they sent me to the one place on the planet where I would never be silent or could be silenced," he said.

His interest was not so much politics, but "justice and peace". "Doing justice is an absolute Biblical imperative:

'This is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to do justice, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God'," he said quoting Micah 6:8. "I have always based my work on the fundamental premise that justice and peace are Gospel issues. One cannot be truly Catholic or Protestant unless she or he is committed to social justice," he said.

He is modest about his success in knocking on and getting through the doors of the great and the good in American politics. "It was the song and not the singer; the song being the message," he said. In his forthcoming book "My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland", the photo section captures him speaking to a range of influential figures including Bill Clinton.

Two years after he arrived in the States he had set up the lobby group the Irish National Caucus. By 1978, the Caucus had set up its headquarters on Washington's Capitol Hill.

"Every exile feels a bit guilty in leaving his homeland, especially if it is a very turbulent time. Then he feels strongly committed to do something. I felt a compulsion to do something," he said.

He was not without his critics. "At one stage every political interest in America and everyone in Northern Ireland and southern Ireland, every political party and every group practically opposed me".

"The US government position was hands off Northern Ireland because it is under the British sphere of influence. The Irish government of those times had no policy," he said. "I knew what was going to happen. You cannot take on the British government without expecting to be whacked on the head many, many times" he said.

And how he took them on was through the initiation of the MacBride Principles, a fair employment code of conduct for companies doing business in Northern Ireland named after Sean MacBride. The success of his Caucus with the Principles, which became enshrined in US Law, he admits has been his greatest achievement. "The US must not subsidise discrimination and injustice in Northern Ireland. That is what the MacBride Principles are all about," he said.

"The MacBride campaign really started to come into its own when the British government ceased using the phrase 'mind your own business'. Even Maggie Thatcher stopped using that. When Americans mind what their own money is doing, they are minding their own business".

He recalls stormy meetings at companies like Shortts in Belfast. The link between the States and Northern Ireland was the billions of US dollars invested in companies in Northern Ireland. "Their business was coming from America. This was America's business," he says.

Doors are still opening for Father McManus. He has facilitated a Congressional Hearing for the Ballymurphy group representing the families of 11 people killed by the British Army in 1971. He has also arranged for Raymond McCord to tell his story. His son, Raymond McCord junior, was murdered by the UVF in 1997. His father has lead a campaign to expose police collusion between the British government and police informers.

He talks about the impact Raymond McCord's story had in Washington. "I walked into the Chairman's office Bill Delahunt [Chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight], and said I have been going on and annoying you guys about Catholics are mistreated by the British government. This morning I am bringing you a Protestant from Belfast who has had much the same experience. That makes a powerful impact on Capitol Hill".

Raymond McCord's Relatives for Justice group is sponsoring his book launch in Belfast. "I think he is one of the bravest men I have met in my life. There is not a sectarian bone in his body. That impresses me greatly. We would disagree totally on the Union but on the issues that he and his family have been treated badly and there is a need for justice to be done, he has my 100 per cent support," he said.

Looking back over his decades of work, he noted: "The people who have helped me most are non Catholic and non Irish. The biggest example of all is Bill Clinton, a Southern Baptist from the Bible belt. Go figure. In that there is the important message of religious groups helping each other. When people of different faiths come together to work for justice that is when ecumenism becomes its most meaningful self".

There was no "grand design" in writing his book. "I always knew that if I didn't get it down a lot of the stuff would be lost. No-one has done the stuff I have done, whether you believe I have done it well or poorly, nobody has been at it as long as I have and done this work of Capitol Hill. I felt an obligation to get it out there," he said.

His work he now does with a "lighter heart" than in the past. "Thank God the horrible violence to a great degree has stopped. I hope to God it will never come back," he said.

The St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington mark the changes. "It is nice to see here on St. Patrick's Day all the people out from home. There was one time the entire Unionist tradition and all Unionist leaders in effect boycotted America. Now I have met them all. I met Tom Elliott on St. Patrick's Day. As you would say in Kinawley, he is a fine Protestant man. I had a nice chat with him. There is nobody on the Unionist side I haven't met. I have always had a friendly relationship with Rev. Ian Paisley," he said.

His sister is also in America, two other siblings live in Britain and two remain in Fermanagh including his brother, the Lisnaskea solicitor Frank, who was Unity MP for Fermanagh/south Tyrone from 1970 to 1974. Six of the McManus siblings have passed away. "Death has been creeping up on the family over the last few years," he said.

Due to "brave men and women" like Tony Blair, Mo Mowlam, the Clintons, for the first time in years there is a sense of "contentment and hope" about home,

Because of his work, he feels very connected with the place, taking all the daily and weekly local papers.

Indeed the accent he jokes about still sounds very local. "I am still a Kinawley man. I hope, please God, my bones will rest in Kinawley when the time comes," he said.

Father Sean McManus' book "My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland" (Collins Press) is to be given its Fermanagh launch on April 14 at Enniskillen Library.

Derek Warfield to Perform for Fr Mc Manus

The legendary Irish ballad singer , Derek Warfield – for many years

leader of the Wolfe Tones and now leader of the Young Wolfe Tones –

will provide entertainment for the launch of Fr. Mc Manus’s Memoirs in

Dublin Castle on Tuesday, April 5 at 6:30 PM.

“ I am honored and humbled Derek would do this for me,” said Fr. Mc

Manus. “ He is not only a legend and a great Irish patriot but also a

dear friend”.

Fr. Mc Manus’ Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern

Ireland ( Collins Press, Cork) has just been released. Besides the

launch in Dublin Castle, Fr Mc Manus is also launching the book at

several other venues : Belfast : Saturday, April 9 at I PM.

Cultúrlann 216 Falls Road;Bellaghy : Sunday, April 10 at 7 PM. Wolfe

Tones, GAA grounds;Enniskillen :Thursday, April 14 at 8 PM. Library.