WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Fermanagh-born leader of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus has been forced to address why he was not invited to the September 7th Washington meeting with James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
This according to Barbara Flaherty, Executive Vice President of the Irish National Caucus. Ms. Flaherty said: "Fr. Mc Manus was not going to make any comment on his exclusion but he has received so many phone call and emails that he was forced to address it. Fr. Mc Manus personally was not the slightest put out by being excluded. He does not seek to meet with British Government officials; however, hundreds of Irish-Americans are now very suspicious and angry about the whole thing."
The Brokenshire meeting was arranged, and invitations extended by Norman Houston, head of the NI Bureau Ms. Flaherty said: "Fr. Mc Manus had to tell Irish-Americans that he was not aware of the meeting and that he did not receive and invitation. That, of course, then led to Irish- Americans asking Fr. Mc Manus why he thought he was excluded because, obviously, there is no Irish-American leader better known than Fr. Mc Manus—nor longer involved than he in the struggle for Irish justice."
Fr. Mc Manus was finally forced to say: "I have no idea why I was excluded as I've always had a friendly and professional relationship with Norman Houston. I am aware, of course, that First Minister Arlene Foster had, surprisingly and gratuitously, attacked me. Let me first say here that I respect Ms. Foster and I am proud she is a Fermanagh woman. But the Belfast Telegraph took exception to the Irish National Caucus animated internet video, which is on our website (IrishNationalCaucus.org) and that newspaper may have actually incited Ms. Foster to attack. However, the video is the essence of moderation and common sense. It welcomes the progress of the peace process, stresses that non-violence is the way forward and encourages people to think of Northern Ireland as "the Beloved Community"— the term made famous by Martin Luther King, Jr. How many people, apart from me, speak of Northern Ireland as the Beloved Community? Seriously?
The video also regrets that despite the progress there is still sadly a deep strain of anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern Ireland— something that cannot be denied. Yet, amazingly, Ms. Foster accused me of being sectarian! I deplored sectarianism and she accused me of sectarianism. And the Belfast Telegraph ran headlines, 'Irish National Caucus lies must be challenged.'"
Ms. Flaherty explained: "We don't know if any of this played a part in Fr. Mc Manus being excluded. But when we said that to Irish-Americans, the very large response was almost identical: 'But Martin Mc Guinness is supposed to be co-leader of Northern Ireland . Norman Houston is supposed to represent both Mc Guinness and Foster. Would Mc Guinness approve of Houston excluding Fr. Mc Manus?'"
Ms. Flaherty concluded: "However, had Fr. Mc Manus attended the meeting, you can be certain he would have raised the Pat Finucane case, the Raymond Mc Cord Jr. Case, the Scappaticci-Stakeknife case and the Ballymurphy Massacre. He would also have challenged Mr. Brokenshire on British Government spying on Irish-Americans organizations as the 1985 PRONI released papers prove. And he would also most certainly have raised the legal challenge to Brexit by Raymond Mc Cord, Sr.
Fr. Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. BOX 15128
Washington, DC 20003-0849
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SOURCE Irish National Caucus