The Personal & The Political
A Letter from Ireland
a Chara, This week’s Letter from Ireland is still coming to you from our tour. Last week I attended the AOH/LAOH Biannual Convention in Pittsburgh with Michelle Gildernew. This week it’s Washington with Michelle O’Neill. The convention was a celebration of Irish American identity and a shared common experience. The welcome was second to none. Discussions centered on political developments in Ireland, the rise of Sinn Féin, the British Government breaching international law with their proposals on Legacy and Brexit, and the potential of Irish Unity. This was mirrored in our engagements with political and civic leaders in Washington. There were detailed discussions on the legislative process in Westminster and what could be done next to protect and promote the Good Friday Agreement as we mark its 25th Anniversary next year.
The agreement is just as relevant today as it was in 1998. It is the framework for managing the political challenges of today and planning for tomorrow. At a meeting in Washington, one Congress Member remarked that “no one has to lobby for Ireland – we get it”. Such a simple statement. Such a profound truth. The relationship with political leaders is not based on a political calculation. It is personal. It cuts to the core of identity. It’s an intergenerational pride in being Irish-American. The same pride that was evident with the Hibernians was evident in Washington. In typical, cut-to-the-chase fashion, the question was not whether to help but what can be done to help.
The US has been a guarantor of the agreements and steadfast in asserting the primacy of politics. We face a British Government that has no respect for agreements, acts unilaterally, and makes a virtue out of breaking international law. At a time when international law is under attack with a war in Ukraine, British government policy on Ireland continues to undermine relations between Britain and Ireland, the EU, and the US. It also does untold damage to the political process and the rights of citizens. The US stands resolute behind the Agreements, the protocol, and re-establishing the government and institutions. At some stage, Britain will listen. The demands are reasonable: honor the agreements and respect international law. Irish America will endure, it is both personal and political. Have a great weekend and special thanks to all those who made us feel so welcome. Is mise, 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.