Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minster Martin McGuiness has told Irish Americans that he has been deeply gratified by their “overwhelming support” for the peace process in Northern Ireland over the past few days.
“The message from America has been loud and clear, and we know that all Americans stand with us to ensure the success of the peace process,” he told the Irish Voice on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before he boarded a plane to California with First Minster Peter Robinson.
McGuinness said the “very strong statement” from the White House condemning the murder of two British soldiers in was especially welcome.
He also stated that he and Robinson will personally request that President Barack Obama visit the North in support of the peace process when they meet him at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.
“He is somebody who has had a huge impact in Northern Ireland. We would love to have him visit and to share with him the success of the process so far,” McGuinness said.
“I think people over there and here recognize that there is overwhelming support across every community for what we are doing. These people are trying to destroy the peace process, and they have no prospect of success.”
McGuinness pointed out that the Real IRA has been around for over a decade, and that the Continuity IRA was created in 1985 and had never been able to make a major impact on events apart from the Real IRA bomb in Omagh in 1998 that killed 31 people.
Meanwhile, U.S. leaders have reacted with fury over the new spate of violence in the north.
The State Department’s acting spokesperson Robert A. Wood said, “The United States condemns the attack in Northern Ireland, that resulted in two deaths and injuries to others. Our condolences go out to the families of the slain soldiers.
“We call on all parties in Northern Ireland to unequivocally reject such senseless acts of violence, whose intention is to destroy the peace that so many in Northern Ireland have worked so hard to achieve.”
Republican Congressman Peter King from Long Island told the Irish Voice, “I strongly condemn these cowardly and deadly attacks. It is important that these murderers be brought to justice as quickly as possible. These murderers must also realize that they have no support whatsoever among Irish Americans.”
In a statement to the press Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland in the House, said, “I condemn the attack of the British Army base in Antrim that left two soldiers killed and others wounded in the strongest possible terms. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. I also wish to express my sincere condolences to the families of those killed and injured.
“Those responsible for the reprehensible attack should understand that they have no support on the island of Ireland, in the United States of America or across the globe. Their actions will not change the enormous progress that has been made in Northern Ireland in recent times, nor will it stop the inevitable transformation of that society. The days of violence are over.”
Reacting to the shooting of the two British soldiers, Seamus Boyle, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) told the Irish Voice, “The killing of two British Soldiers at Massereene Barracks is condemned by the Ancient Order of Hibernians as well as people from all over the world and our condolences go out to their families. The organization who carried out this act can only be trying to undermine the peace agreement which has been voted on by a vast majority of the people of Ireland.”
Boyle continued, “For ten years now people are living a peaceful life and the children of tomorrow deserve to be raised with that peace for the first time in over 40 years. There are those still out there who for whatever reason are determined to undermine that Good Friday Agreement. We in the AOH have supported republicanism for centuries and will continue to do so to achieve our goal of complete freedom from foreign rule.
“We now have a vehicle to attain that end and that is a peaceful, democratic political machine to reach our goal and those who want to destroy it must not succeed.”
Paul Doris, president of Irish Northern Aid, stated that the killings, “are contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Irish people who voted for the Good Friday Agreement. The purpose of these attacks is to bring us all back into conflict and undermine the hard won gains of the political process. Irish Northern Aid reiterates our support for Sinn Fein and calls on Irish Americans to stand firm behind the peace process.”