The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC) have joined together in a renewed effort to support an independent truth commission to deal with the past in Northern Ireland following last week's Congressional hearing into collusion there.
The AOH and the IAUC are requesting that a Congressional fact-finding delegation be organized to travel to the North to specifically investigate the collusion issue.
The hearing featured testimony from Raymond McCord, John Finucane, former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, and Jane Winter, director of British Irish Rights Watch.
Congressional support for further investigations into collusion and the full disclosure of truth on the part of the British government was clear.
Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA), chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, said that information about collusion between British security forces and paramilitaries must be made public. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) agreed, stating that there is bipartisan support
for a truth commission in Congress. “These issues are not going to go away,” Smith said.
“We would like to see Congress become actively involved in the establishment and oversight of an independent truth commission in the North of Ireland,” said IAUC President Kate McCabe.
“Such a process, where victims’ rights are at the forefront, is essential to a lasting peace. American political support is necessary to ensure the true independence of any truth recovery process in the North.”
AOH National President Seamus Boyle said, “It is very important to remember that with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 ending the conflict in the North the Ancient Order of Hibernians refocused on the human rights and collusion issues which were highlighted in this Congressional hearing.
"We need to have resolution to these collusion issues which devastated both communities. We can then move on to the much more difficult task of a political dialogue and reconciliation
between the communities," he said.
In addition, members of Congress are being asked to write to the Northern Ireland Office and Prime Minister Gordon Brown to express support for the “Legacy Commission” as proposed by the Consultative Group on the Past, provided that the British government allow for its operational independence and full access to State archives.