Trevor Ringland, who was appointed by the UK government as the Special Envoy to the US on Northern Ireland in June, is due to speak at an Irish Institute of Boston College event today, October 19.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) issued a statement ahead of Tuesday's event which said that the organization had written to Dr. Robert Mauro, the Director of the Irish Institute of Boston College, to "take exception" with the Institute promoting Ringland as the "Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States."

The title of Special Envoy was conferred upon Ringland by the UK government on June 6. The AOH soon thereafter questioned the appointment.

The letter from the AOH, published on October 18, states: "Precise language and rigor of description are the hallmarks of good scholarship. Therefore, we are gravely disappointed that Boston College should fail these standards in misrepresenting Mr. Trevor Ringland, MBE as the "Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States" [sic] at an event to be held 10/19 at the McMullen Museum.

“As a member of the community of Northern Ireland, a former star Rugby player, solicitor, and member of the Northern Ireland Conservative party (which currently holds no seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly), Mr. Ringland is a voice and perspective that deserves to be heard with respect but also with proper context.  

“Mr. Ringland is not a 'Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States,' despite the fact that the British Government is attempting to present him as one.  

“Mr. Ringland was not appointed by the devolved Northern Ireland government of Stormont; he was appointed by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, who himself was appointed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“In short, Mr. Ringland is an appointee of an appointee, and an attempt to spin a false equivalence between Mr. Ringland's role and that of the 'United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland,' appointed by the U.S. President to represent the American people to Northern Ireland is duplicitous. 

“In fact, describing Mr. Ringland as a 'Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States' is a sad example of the deceptive marketing tactic of 'astroturfing' which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes as 'organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something (such as a political policy) but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization.'

“Abraham Lincoln is said to have once asked, 'If you call a calf's tail a leg, how many legs does it have?' When the listeners responded 'Five,' Lincoln replied, 'No, because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it so.'

"Sadly, the same is true for Mr. Ringland, calling him a 'Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States' doesn't make him one, and is deceptive as to who indeed he is representing. 

“We have no objection to Mr. Ringland speaking, but Boston College should not be party to calling 'a tail a leg' and make crystal clear for whom he is speaking. We respectfully ask that Mr. Ringland be correctly identified at your presentation."

The letter was signed by AOH National Political Education Chair Neil F. Cosgrove.