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.

Friday, August 26, 2011


EDITORIAL. Irish Echo. AUGUST 24TH, 2011
By Fr. Sean McManus
In responding to the Irish Echo editorial, ” The Last Horseman” on the death of former New York governor Hugh Carey I have to bear in mind the maxim I was reared to take most seriously, “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum” (Speak no ill of the dead).
However, it is also important that we tell no untruths about Irish history, as did the quote from Carey (on the death of Teddy Kennedy): “As one of the Four Horsemen, along with Tip O’Neill, Pat Moynihan and myself, he helped turn the struggle in Northern Ireland away from violence and onto the path of political settlement, with a pivotal statement in 1977 and many occasions since.”
As I carefully document in my recently published memoirs, “My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland,” the 1977 statement to which Carey refers did not “turn the struggle in Northern Ireland away from violence,” but rather sabotaged – and was meant to – President Carter’s ground-breaking initiative on the North.
The Irish National Caucus met with presidential candidate Jimmy Carter on September 27, 1976. This was just six days before he was elected. I gave the welcoming statement and Carter gave us this key response: ” … We see, or come on the evening television news, and in the national headlines every now and then, specific instances where human rights are subjugated and where quite often our nation, as was pointed out by Father [McManus], stands mute and doesn’t speak… it is a mistake for our country’s government to stand quiet on the struggle of the Irish for peace for the respect of human rights and for unifying Ireland.”
This was a huge breakthrough. We had not only gotten Carter to speak up, but also to frame the Irish issue as a human rights issue. The British and their media went berserk. But not only the British.
The Boston Globe would later report: “Irish embassy officials protested vehemently to Carter aides. Carter, under pressure, agreed to send a telegram of clarification. Carter, the next day, telegrammed Irish foreign Minister FitzGerald: “… I have been informed that certain news reports concerning my meeting yesterday with Irish-American leaders have misrepresented both my position and my statements… I do not favor violence as part of a solution to the Irish question.”
No one, of course, had reported that Carter had favored violence. But this was the favorite tactic of the Dublin government of that time: scare people from speaking out for justice in Northern Ireland lest they be accused of supporting violence. It was unconscionable to do that to Carter. Yet the political and media establishment in Ireland never objected to FitzGerald’s inexcusable and disgraceful actions.
Just six months after that huge breakthrough, the Four Horsemen – set up by the Dublin government – made the statement from which Carey quoted. It was classic counter-insurgency sabotage: not a word about British violence, repressive legislation or mistreatment of political prisoners. Not a whisper about how British security forces and the RUC were colluding with, arming and controlling, Protestant murder gangs. Not a scintilla of mention about the deep-seated all pervasive anti-Catholic discrimination and sectarianism. It was a blatant cover-up, indeed, collusion.
Reflect on the monstrosity of it all. The Irish National Caucus had gotten Jimmy Carter to see Northern Ireland as a human rights issue. Garret FitzGerald, then Irish foreign minister, got the Four Horsemen to present the IRA and Irish Americans who supported them as the only problem.
By saying they appealed to Irish Americans to “renounce any action that….provides support or encouragement for organizations engaged in violence,” the Four Horsemen gave precisely that support and encouragement to the British army and the RUC.
They, in effect, said to the British, do what you like to the Catholics in Northern Ireland, and we won’t say a thing because the Dublin government only wants us to condemn the IRA.
The Four Horsemen, well versed in how the media operated, had to know how their statement would play. The headline at the time in the New York Times proves my point: “Four Top Democrats Urge Halt in support for the IRA.”
In fact, the statement did nothing to stop those who were supporting the IRA.I never met an Irish American who stopped supporting the IRA because of Tip O’ Neill, or Teddy Kennedy. The statement just gave the British carte blanche.
Years later, when Candidate Bill Clinton, on April 5, 1992, in New York City, made promises to a group of us (some who also had been at the Carter meeting in Pittsburgh), the huge difference was that taioseach Albert Reynolds, God bless him, welcomed Clinton’s statement. And the rest is history.
Still, I am haunted by this thought: had FitzGerald welcomed Carter’s statement (as Reynolds had welcomed Clinton’s) how much sooner the peace process could have started, how many lives might have been saved, and how so much suffering could have been spared.
And I am not alone in thinking this way. Irish author and journalist Tim Pat Coogan says in his memoirs, “During the 1974-7 coalition period the voice of the Dublin component of the Toffs’ Brigade [pro-British elite] was particularly strong, powerful and continuous. I would blame Dublin’s attitude in these year for helping to create a mindset that deepened the political vacuum and helped to prolong the Troubles.”
Fr. Sean McManus is president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus. Signed, personalized copies of his memoir, “My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland” are available at


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Sunday, August 14, 2011


Almost 39 years from arriving in Baltimore in October 1972,
 Fr. Mc Manus was back promoting his book at 
The Irish Railroad Workers Museum--A Shrine.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Mairtin O'Muilleoir

Irish Echo-August 4, 2011

They say no man is a prophet in his own land, and that’s certainly true of Fr. Sean McManus, a fiery crusader for Ireland who has rattled more cages than circus king Billy Smart.

Fortunately, of course, Fr. Sean, as is the case with all Irish Americans, is blessed with two lands.

So while the great and the good of official, abbreviated Ireland, led by the late Garret FitzGerald (Grásta ó Dhia air) lashed the clergyman for voicing fears over the treatment of abandoned Northern nationalists, he had always the warm, appreciative embrace of Irish America to fall back on. How mad is that? A Kinawly, Co. Fermanagh native washes up in New York in the 1970s, shines a light on horrendous human rights abuses by Britain against Irish citizens north of the border at a time when neither the New York, nor Irish Times would acknowledge their plight and, for his troubles, gets treated like public enemy number one by the Irish diplomatic corps.

For its insight into that disturbing period of our recent history alone, Fr. McManus’s no-punches-pulled memoir “My American Struggle for Justice in Ireland,” is a must-read.

But, in fact, there’s much more here to recommend to the discerning reader. For the first time, we have the inside story of a protagonist in the battle with the Four Horsemen of Irish America – led by the nose by the same Dublin authorities who branded the Birmingham Six terrorists. This protagonist, Fr. Sean, delivers a blow-by-blow account of his fight for Ireland on Capitol Hill.

When it came to the key campaigns for peace, fair employment and justice in the North of Ireland, Fr. McManus contends, in this unanswerable indictment, that the big names fell short in those crucial years when the descent into the darkest pits of violence could have been averted.

Instead, deluded by plámás from Dublin, and empty pledges from London, the greatest Irish American politicians of the late 20th Century called it wrong. If they had taken their lead from Fr. McManus and his struggle for justice and against violence, perhaps peace could have been won long before a new generation of American leaders, led by President Clinton, sealed the peace deal of 1998.

But, as this stirring autobiography attests, pitting a stubborn Fermanagh man against a couple of governments and the most powerful Irish American politicians of their time is unfair – on them.

For Fr. Mac went on to inspire a series of key hearings in Congress into human rights abuses in the Six Counties, and raised the standard for Irish civil rights in North Ireland through the MacBride Principles campaign, the single most powerful instrument for change ever deployed by Irish America.

In “My American Struggle,” the author gives us more detail than the average reader might care for on the background to the birth and meteoric ascent of the MacBride campaign across the United States. But the meaty detail of the hearings is truly revelatory stuff, never properly recorded in book-form by an Irish American leader. Until now.

In fact, if there’s one fault in this riveting and eminently readable book, it is that too much of Fr McManus’s story remains untold.

He reveals at one point that he was the first white Catholic priest to go to jail for picketing the apartheid-era South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. Now there’s a chapter on its own, yet it gets but a passing mention.

Similarly, his heroic work to expose the plastic bullet killings of children on the streets of Derry and Belfast barely features.

Then again, this may be just the first salvo. If we’re lucky, Fr. McManus may be saving some of those stories for part II, and, fingers crossed, part III, of his memoirs.

“My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland” is published in Ireland by The Collins Press and is available on from the Irish National Caucus--which is the only way to get a signed copy.

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