Strong allies and friends needed
A Letter from Massachusetts
It’s cold in Springfield Massachusetts. It was cold in Boston, and it is getting colder as I travel to Providence, Rhode Island, and New Bedford before returning home. The weather is important to Irish people. It is our go-to conversation opener.
The conversations here have been great. People are interested in Ireland and our peace process. Many Irish Americans are proud of their heritage. But interest is not limited to Irish America. All have shared their hopes for a peaceful and prosperous future.
We are living in a time of immense opportunity. We could be the generation to realize the transformational potential of the Good Friday Agreement. The people I meet are excited to be the first generation of Americans to visit a new and united Ireland.
But opportunity and inevitability are not the same. The Good Friday Agreement provides for a peaceful and democratic pathway to unity through unity referendums North and South.
All those who support unity will need to work together to secure and to win the unity referendums. That includes the Irish Government which should be preparing and advocating for unity. That is what a Sinn Féin led government in Dublin would do. That is what the current Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael government should be doing.
We all face the challenge of the British Government that refuses to honor its obligations under the agreement and believes that it can unilaterally rewrite any agreements.
The US is crucial in holding the British Government to account. It was US and EU pressure that brought the British Government back to the negotiating table on Brexit. That pressure needs to be maintained to seal a deal.
The US congress and Irish American leaders have voiced their opposition to the British Government's proposals to cover up for their actions in the conflict. Victims of state violence have been forced to the courts to secure inquests, investigations, and information. The British government is trying to close down access to the legal system and judicial investigations.
Thousands of Irish Republicans went through the jail system facing internment without trial or non jury courts rigged by special powers. Until this week only 6 soldiers were ever convicted and sentenced for conflict-related killing. All served short sentences and on release returned to their army. Today a seventh was sentenced for the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie. The judge found the soldier had lied and the state failed to investigate the killing 35 years ago. The soldier received a three-year sentence, was suspended for three years, and will not serve a night in jail.
Facing a British government that acts in bad faith, refuses to honor agreements, and covers up its actions, we need strong allies and friends.
From my conversations this week I know that we have allies and friends across the US. We can overcome these challenges and we will realize the opportunity to build a new and united Ireland.
Stay warm this weekend,
Ciarán Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.