Irish Times columnist does not understand Irish America
Hillary Clinton’s moves on Northern Ireland indicate a deep interest and not a downgrade
Far from being unsourced, the story was very well sourced from two separate direct participants, and I have no doubt it will turn out to be completely factual.
Stanage fails to understand Irish America. He cites Clinton as stating that she “did not see the need for someone full-time” as an envoy as reason to presume she has no real interest in it. There has never been a full-time envoy since George Mitchell nor is there ever likely to be one and no one has ever called for one. The fact that Clinton will personally be handling the issue as opposed to a lower-level state department personnel is a huge step up, not a step down, as Stanage tries to indicate. In addition there will be an economic envoy – another major step which he is clearly clueless about.
With regard to Irish America: Stanage is not long enough in America to understand what occurred during the peace process here. It was Irish America that won the visa for Gerry Adams, which helped create the IRA ceasefire. It was Irish America that first put forward the envoy proposal which became the George Mitchell initiative and most importantly it was Irish America that first reached out to then Arkansas governor Bill Clinton to become involved in Ireland. How this signals a lack of clout is a mystery.
He tosses off the usual cockamamie quotes about no Irish Americans ever voting en masse on Irish issues. Whoever said they did? What we in Irish America have done is harnessed support around positions of interest to us such as immigration reform and Northern Ireland. To that end we have cultivated important relationships through fundraising, extensive canvassing at elections and creating personal contacts with many key figures. We are no different in that respect to any other ethnic group.
As for present-day clout, Stanage obviously does not know about the Irish Government Diaspora conference in Dublin in September which will see over 100 top Irish American businessmen and women from the US come to Ireland to discuss the ties between the two countries and the economic benefits that can accrue.
The Diaspora conference is modelled on one that we at Irish America magazine have hosted these past few years in conjunction with UCD. Is this what Stanage refers to as a dead-end strategy having Fortune 500 executives in large numbers come to Ireland at a critical time?
He also disparages our work on behalf of the undocumented Irish. Probably that’s easy to do for an Oxford University educated chap who has never experienced the desperation our illegal community feels at this time. Quixotic our quest could well be but it will not stop us trying to help our fellow Irish men and women live normal lives in America.