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  • Greg O'Loughlin

Irish Unity Takes Center Stage In the USA

In mid-July Michelle Gildernew MP and Sinn Féin North American Representative Ciarán Quinn traveled to Pittsburgh to attend the biannual Ancient Order of Hibernians/ Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. The Hibernian movement is by far the largest Irish American Organisation by membership in the US. The achievement by peaceful means of Irish Unity is a central tenet of the Hibernians. The event was an opportunity to meet with the leadership of both organisations and address their memberships. Each has Freedom for All Ireland Committees made up of informed and dedicated activists. Many of whom are frequent visitors to Ireland. The discussions centered on the current British Governments cover-up proposals, Brexit, and planning for Irish Unity. The discussions were detailed and the questions probing.

Addressing a plenary session of the LAOH, Michelle Gildernew MP said, ““Our struggle for Irish unity owes a debt of gratitude to Irish America and to women who protested, raised funds, and engaged America in our struggle for unity and independence. We are closer to achieving that goal than at any time in our history. Irish unity is achievable by wholly democratic and peaceful means.” The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians passed a resolution to prioritize the work of building support for Irish Unity in their coming term.


The delegation also used the opportunity of the visit to Pittsburgh to meet with and address both the Irish American Unity Conference and the Ireland Forum. These lively, informed and informal discussions addressed the growth of Sinn Féin across the Island and the potential of Irish Unity. Immediately after the successful visit to Pittsburgh. First Minister (Elect) Michelle O’Neill arrived in Washington.

In a Whirlwind trip, the Sinn Féin Vice President met with Congressional leaders to thank them for their support, to update them on the political developments following on from the historic election of May and the challenges that lay ahead.


From Capitol Hill, Michelle met with Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Chris Murphy, Speaker Pelosi, Congress Members Bill Keating and Mary Gay Scanlon. The Sinn Féin leader also had the opportunity to address the Congressional Friends of Ireland at the invite of co-chairs, Rep. Richard Neal and Rep. Mike Kelly.


Michelle was clear that while we are dealing with a British government that is actively undermining the Good Friday Agreement and is prepared to break international law Sinn Féin is determined to move ahead. The debate on Irish Unity is live and there is the real opportunity to realize the potential of constitutional change.


The State Department rolled out the diplomatic carpet in recognition of the May election result. Following a meeting with Derek Chollet, Counselor of the Department of State, he called for the re-establishment of Government in the North of Ireland. Speaking in Washington Michelle O’Neill said, “Now is the time to assert the primacy of politics, the honoring of agreements, and respect for international law.”

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