Sunday, May 29, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Letters to the Editor
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Jim Gibney’s column pretty much reflected my own attitude, “ Queens Visit Showed Mc Aleese at Her Best” ( May 26).
I fully understand the valid reasons why some protested the Queen’s visit – and those reasons should not be dismissed or disrespected.
My own attitude was that I felt a bit more secure about the visit because Mary Mc Aleese is President. Had someone like, say Garret FitzGerald been President (not meaning to speak ill of the dead ) -- or some other southerner not noted for standing up to British injustice in Northern Ireland – I would not have felt as secure about the visit.
Now some may say that is a superficial distinction because the Queen is still the Queen no matter who receives her on Irish soil: that the Queen is still the Commander of the British Armed Forces, that the visit was on the anniversary of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, that the anti-Catholic and sectarian Act of Settlement 1701, is still the foundation stone of the Royal Family, barring as it does a Catholic from being monarch or even marrying a Catholic… etc. , etc.
Still in all, there is the reality of The Good Friday Agreement. ( Only Republican dissidents and extreme Orangemen claim The Agreement makes no difference).And with regards to the North , context is everything . By accepting the Irish Peace Process, one must also accept that certain protocols will naturally follow. And I say this as the one who lead the protest against the Queen’s visit to Boston in 1976, as explained in my recently published Memoirs, “ My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland”.
Nonetheless, the fact that Mary Mc Aleese is President meant that it would be clear to all that there would be no “southern forelock tugging”, that she would meet the Queen as an equal, that she would be seen as representing the Irish nation, not just three quarters of it, i.e. 26 Counties.
Moreover, as to the actual visit itself, the sight of the Queen paying her respect to all who sacrificed their lives for Irish freedom has to mean something very profound – granting the significance the British attach to such solemn actions by the Queen.
Yes, indeed, we must continue with unfinished business – and I certainly shall on Capitol Hill – but we are missing a profound paradigm shift if we spurn the Queen’s visit as meaningless or harmful to the Irish cause. It is not. And I give Her Majesty a lot of respect and credit for that.
Fr.Sean Mc Manus
Saturday, May 21, 2011
RESPONSE TO RICHARD ENGLISH'S REVIEW OF MY AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The Irish Times
Saturday, May21, 2011
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 ..
Righteously right in Irish America
Fr Seán McManus with Bill Clinton on his campaign trail in 1992
Righteously right in Irish America
NORTHERN IRELAND : My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland By Seán McManus The Collins Press, 280pp. €14.99
A 27-YEAR-OLD Irish republican, deeply opposed to British rule in the North, takes part in a violent campaign against the Northern Irish police. There is little support among the nationalist population for such violence, but a small band committedly maintains the attacks and occasionally manages to kill police officers as it does so. Then one night the 27-year-old himself is killed, as the gelignite bomb that he is transporting prematurely explodes.
It is July 1958, and the dead IRA man is Patrick McManus. His death was an understandably terrible event for his brother Seán, Redemptorist priest, long-time campaigner on Northern Ireland and author of this spirited book. The discovery that his brother had died “remains to this day my most vivid, traumatic moment”.
Fr Seán McManus himself remained proud of his brother, “the quintessential Irish patriot”, and 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.”
McManus originated in Co Fermanagh. Born in 1944, he was ordained in 1968 and based in the US after 1972. He made clear in the early 1970s his view that Northern Ireland was illegitimate: “I do not, I never have and I never will, recognise the colonial state of British-occupied Ireland.”
He formed the Irish National Caucus (INC) in February 1974 as an Irish-American lobby group, with the aim of providing a strong Irish presence in political Washington DC. The INC formally adopted non-violent methods, as it aimed to get Congress more involved in Northern Irish affairs from a nationalist angle. Most famously, the INC espoused the MacBride fair-employment principles, a campaign aimed at combating anti-Catholic discrimination in the North.
McManus’s book is a lightly written account of his campaigns, and he emerges as an energetic and skilled lobbyist. But the narrative seemed to me less persuasive for its rather simplistic one-sidedness of emphasis. My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland really focuses on human-rights abuses only as practised 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.
So the denial of human rights in the cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six are quite rightly highlighted, just as they should be. But McManus’s book offers no reflection on the IRA’s violation of human rights in the bombings themselves. It killed five people in no-warning bombings in Guildford in October 1974, and followed this up the next month with the horrific injustice of killing 21 civilians and injuring many more in Birmingham. Attention in his book to those human-rights abuses would, in my view, have made McManus’s arguments on behalf of Catholic victims in the North much more effective.
McManus’s book also displays no sense of respect for the political rights of unionists, even though nationalist Ireland has (surely rightly) recognised, in the Belfast Agreement and beyond, that such respect forms one necessary part of creating a truly just and balanced new politics in Ireland.
In the end the book implies an unproblematic association of justice with the Irish republican cause, and hints at a straightforward equation of Catholic under-representation in Northern employment simply with discrimination. In both cases, matters are almost certainly more complex. 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.
Friday, May 13, 2011
With brother Frank and sister Mary Kate
Hundreds attend book launch
Fermanagh Herald. Wednesday, April 27, 2011
HE walked into the hall where hundreds were seated like a champion boxer to the
ring, preceded by a lone piper, Gerry McManus, a member of the Mountain Road Pipe
As one, they stood and saluted one of their own, Fr Sean McManus, described by Peter
Quinn as, ‘Fermanagh ‘s greatest human export’ for the recent official launch of his
‘My American Struggle For Justice in Northern Ireland’ is now available at £13 a time.
Readers will be familiar with the author’s main claim to fame, as founder of the
Irish National Caucus based on Capitol Hill in Washington. It was through this lobby
group that Fr Sean got successive US administrations to push for rights for
beleaguered Catholics back home and clipped the wings of those agencies that ignored
His younger[sic] brother, Frank was fear a tí of what was a memorable night in
Enniskillen Library. He quipped that, while a prophet is never a prophet in his own
land, ‘it is heartening to see he is popular in his own land.’
Peter Quinn, despite the devastating news earlier that day relating to Quinn
Insurance and the Quinn Group, delivered his usual articulate, witty and elegant
address on occasions like these. He was followed on stage by the local MP, Michelle
Gildernew and then came a surprise: Donal Donnelly whose lasting claim to fame is
having escaped from Crumlin Road Jail at the height of the IRA’s 1956 campaign.
Omagh-born, he was sentenced to 10 years but, he was never recaptured. He now lives
with his wife in Dublin. His book, ‘Prisoner 1082’ is his recall of an eventful
He was clearly a fan of Fr McManus: “Not only did he take on the British government
but, in fact, the Irish government and, with his colleagues in the Caucus, he
managed to get President Carter to band the sale of guns to the RUC.
“It was the first time that an American President had done anything of substance for
It was obvious that all three speakers had read the book (Donal Donnelly twice), and
all three referred to the death of the author’s brother, Patrick in 1958 whilst on
active service, and also Fr Sean’s stickability and tenacity.
To his brother, Frank, it was ‘he is just born stubborn’.
The author himself was brief, as if overwhelmed by the turn-out. However, he was at
pains to point out that the people in the US Congress who had helped him the most
‘were not Irish, they were non-Catholic and non-Christian’. And, that was going back
“What do you think of that?”, he asked. “Many Irish-American members of Congress
were blackmailed into silence by the Dublin and London governments.”
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Washington Launch of Fr. Mc Manus’ Memoirs
Chairperson Barbara Flaherty elaborates on the importance of the Book--No other book like this!
Fr. Sean explains his Struggle
Bob Blancato recalls the early struggles
Danny Costello praises the Book!
Capitol Hill --- Tuesday, May 3, 2011 – The Washington-Baltimore Irish community turned out in force to mark the Washington launch of Fr. Sean Mc Manus’ Memoirs , My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ( Collins Press, Cork).
Held in the Phoenix Park hotel on Capitol Hill, the event was Chaired by Mrs. Barbara Flaherty, Chairperson of the Washington Irish Committee, which was formed specifically for the launching of the book. The speaking program was kept within thirty minutes. Apart from Mrs. Flaherty and Fr. Mc Manus, the other two speakers were Bob Blancato, former long -time Chief of Staff for Congressman Mario Biaggi, and Daniel Patrick Costello, Vice President for Advancement, Gonzaga College High School, Washington, DC, author of the Rag Tree: A Novel of Ireland (2009).
Mrs. Flaherty set the scene in her opening remarks:
“We are here to celebrate this book—My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland—a book that is hugely important. It is probably the most significant memoir in the historiography of Irish-American Nationalism since “Recollections of an Irish Rebel” by John Devoy. It is destined to be a classic, and given its correct place among Irish historical books. It is thought provoking and stimulating. Moreover, it is the definitive book on the only Irish Lobby on Capitol Hill. It is a factual presentation of what happened in Washington. Additionally, the book clearly, and sequentially chronicles the work of the Irish National Caucus. It is replete with primary sources illuminating how the U.S. Congress dealt with the Irish Issue.
What is essentially important to understand is that there is no other book out there like this. Nobody else could have written such a book because no one else -- and certainly no other Catholic priest -- has done what Fr. Mc Manus has done on Capitol Hill for equality, peace and justice in Northern Ireland—and for almost 40 years. To quote the great Congressman Ben Gillman, former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, “No one has done more than Fr. Mc Manus to keep the U. S. Congress on track regarding justice and peace in Ireland.”
Mrs. Flaherty then quoted what well known Dublin journalist, Vincent Browne, said at the recent Dublin launching of the book :“… 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, and his relentlessness. And admiration that one person, almost alone, could make such impact on public policy in the United States”.
Bob Blancato fondly reminisced about the mighty battles Congressman Mario Biaggi and Fr. Sean fought for Irish justice in the 70’s – when it was by no means fashionable.
Danny Costello enthusiastically praised the book as being very well written, with a compelling narrative – a must-read for all concerned Irish-Americans.
Fr. Mc Manus emphasized his well-known theme :
“The thing that has made the most vivid impression on me regarding my work with the U.S. Congress is that in the early years those who helped me most were not Irish and often not Catholic. They were Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans and African-Americans.
Congressman Mario Biaggi (D-NY) is the great Italian example. Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY) is the perfect Jewish example. The late Congressman Hamilton Fish IV (R-NY) was the fine Protestant example. And Congressman Don Payne (R-NJ) is the prime African-American example. (Later on, in the 1980’s, there were a number Irish Catholic Members of Congress who would be very helpful to me --- Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ritchie Neal ( D-MA) , Tom Manton ( D-NY), Jimmy Walsh (R-NY), and Joe Crowley(D-NY), among others).
And, of course, without the support of ordinary, decent and hardworking Irish-Americans all across America, I could not have done a thing”.
Further book-launches are being planned in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc., because as Chairperson Flaherty said , “This book is the perfect tool to educate Irish Americans on American involvement with Irish issues, and to reinvigorate their interest in the Irish Cause. There is no other book like it”.