“Immediately following World War I, the United States was faced with the question of its policy on Irish unity.
The outpouring of support from Irish America for a united Ireland at the time was relentless. In recently reading a two- part blog “Rising up in the House Part I and II – Rep. Dyer and the Irish Rebellion of 1916,” I was astounded by the amount of testimony and submissions given to the third session of the 65th Congress seeking U.S. sup- port for a united Ireland.
Over two hundred testimonials from across the country were submitted in support of having President Wilson make a condition of the peace meetings in France that Ireland would be free from English rule.
Although the testimony and submissions were compelling, Ireland would have to wait. Throughout the history of Ire- land it has been a wait and then we’ll see what we can do about the issue of Irish independence.
Once again, it appears that Ireland must wait and see what happens post Brexit.
One of the most significant roles played by America since the end of World War I was when President Clinton first provided a visa for Gerry Adams to come to the U.S. to share with Irish America the Sinn Féin platform.
Shortly thereafter the U.S. would engage the British and Irish governments in dialogue on how to end the violence in the north of Ireland.
Senator George Mitchell would later be sent as a U.S. Special Envoy to the North.
Twenty-one years after the Good Friday Agreement, and the continued intervention of the U.S. through additional special envoys, Ireland has enjoyed the end of a violent chapter in its history.
It did so however, on the promise that the GF A would provide a mechanism for an end of partition and the people on the island of Ireland would be given the opportunity to govern themselves as an independent nation which would include the North and South as one.
For two years Stormont has been without a power-sharing government as provided for in the GFA.
The late Martin McGuinness had made every attempt to work amicably with the Democratic Unionist Party in his role as Deputy First Minister. To his credit, he worked tirelessly with the Reverend Ian Paisley
to reach agreement on the GFA. This is the same Reverend Paisley whose catch cry was “Never, Never, Never.” The process was tumultuous and filled with starts and stops. However, Martin McGuinness’s perseverance won the day and on April 10, 1998 the birth of the Good Friday Agreement became a pivotal moment in Irish history.
Martin’s success was his insistence on remembering the past but moving forward with a vision for Ireland’s future, one that would include all the people of Ireland regardless of religious or political affiliation.
The interesting part of this journey, from 1918 to the pre- sent, is the continued resolve of the Irish in America.
Martin’s only goal throughout his life was to see Ireland united and a government by the people for the people of Ireland.
It is for that reason that Irish organizations, labor unions, cultural groups and local governments have all supported the McGuinness Principles since its roll out on the 20th anniversary of the GF A at Molloy College in Rockville Center, New York on April 10, 2018, a year ago this week.
The war may be over, but the fight has never dwindled. Irish America is committed to seeing through the adherence to the McGuinness Principles of Equality, Respect, Truth and, most importantly , the right to self-determination.
Despite a majority of people in the North voting against Brexit on June 23, 2016 and choosing instead to remain as part of the EU, the British government has made a debacle of the vote and has held several votes in an attempt to avoid a no-Brexit exit that its own leadership in Parliament are not willing to accept.
Prime Minister Theresa May, for her part, propped up her government by throwing in with Arlene Foster’s DUP. May’s decision has had dire consequences. She now has been forced, politically, to meet with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to avoid a no-deal Brexit exit on April 12.
“The Irish Question,” the same question in 1918, is one that can simply be resolved by calling for a referendum on a border poll as provided for in the GFA.
If the British want to leave the EU and not have to contend with the issue of a border in Ire- land, then they should think about how they can remove that border. The problem is England’s, not Ireland’s. Y e t , once again the British have imposed their will on the people in the North.
It has been two years since Martin’s passing, and more than two years since there’s been power-sharing in Stor- mont.
This is why Irish America has thrown its support behind the McGuinness Principles. Since the roll out a year ago the McGuinness Principles have been a road map for reunification.
Ireland has not had an opportunity like this in a hundred years. Together we can make the difference.”
-Marty Glennon is an attorney and member of the Brehon Law Society-