IAUC Welcomes Statement from Obama




Contact: Kate McCabe, National President,

October 13, 2008—The IAUC welcomes Senator Obama’s responses
to the joint IAUC/AOH/LAOH questionnaire on Irish issues.  The questionnaire,
which was submitted to both Presidential candidates, was truly a collaborative
effort and the result of months of hard work between Irish American leaders and
the Obama campaign.

Obama’s statement comes on the heels of the IAUC’s 25th anniversary conference,
which highlighted the critical nature of continued Irish American involvement
and engagement in the Irish peace process. The conference featured dynamic
presentations by Seán Mitchell of Forbairt Feirste on Belfast’s Irish language
revival and the economic potential of developing West Belfast’s Gaeltacht
Quarter; Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney on power-sharing and Irish American
contributions to the Irish peace process; Relatives for Justice’s Mark Thompson
on dealing with the legacy of the past; John Finucane on the campaign for an
independent, public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane; immigration
attorney Jim Byrne on the legal status of Irish republican ex-prisoners living
in the United States; and a live video presentation direct from Belfast
featuring Danny Morrison and Ciaran Ferry.

Immediately following the 25th
anniversary conference the Obama campaign released a statement responding to a
questionnaire dealing with key issues to the Irish American commnity. IAUC
National President Kate McCabe said, “In particular, we applaud Senator Obama’s
statement in support of a truth recovery process and for a independent, public
inquiry into the Finucane murder as recommended by Judge Peter Cory. We hope
Obama’s statements will send a clear message to the British government that
Irish America will not stop applying pressure until we get to the truth—our
support does not wane with passing time but only gets stronger.  Furthermore, we
will fervently resist any attempt to isolate the Finucane family from the
broader truth recovery process that is so critical to reconciliation efforts in
the North.”

The IAUC enthusiastically embraces Senator Obama’s engagement
in several key Irish issues as outlined in his response to the IAUC/AOH/LAOH
questionnaire.  With less than a month to go before the Presidential election,
Senator Obama has chosen to voice his support for a range of critical issues
that are necessary to promote the struggle for truth and substantive equality in
which Irish America is so intimately involved.

We are hopeful that
America’s involvement in promoting justice, cross-community reconciliation and
substantive equality will continue unabated under the next Presidential
administration. The IAUC looks forward to Senator McCain’s responses to the
joint questionnaire.

At the conference, Mark Thompson, director of
victims’ group Relatives for Justice, addressed the central role that Irish
America has played in using our collective clout for the betterment of Irish
society.  Speaking on the importance of our continued involvement, Thompson
said, “We are in a time of civil, social and political transition in which it
might appear that the bulk of that task is completed—a time when perhaps there
may not appear to be an urgency as there once was with regard to ensuring the
completion of that project —I would say that there is an even greater vigilance
and effort required…today. Whilst agreement can be achieved, back-peddling and
reneging on commitment is oftentimes the experienced outcome—take the Inquiries
Act, the Irish Language,  devolution of Policing and Criminal

“So when concerning transition around truth and justice
regarding the British state’s role in the conflict – its dirty war and the human
cost of its systemic policies and practices– equal vigilance is required in
dealing with that past,” urged Thompson.

John Finucane’s remarks at the
conference embody the spirit and determination of the IAUC and Irish America
moving forward.  Finucane compared the almost 20-year campaign his family has
been fighting to climbing a mountain, with the summit as the truth.  As we near
the summit and get closer to the truth, Finucane said, progress slows to a near
halt, the terrain (in the form of resistance from the British government) gets
more difficult, and each step requires more effort. 

However, the Finucanes and their
supporters around the world remain undaunted.  Finucane said, “They may have
taken Pat’s life, but they did not stop what he could do.  Pat’s family, his
friends, colleagues, admirers and supporters, in Ireland and across the world,
will not stop until the truth is known.  None who believe that it is right to
stand up and be counted in the quest for the truth behind the murder of Pat
Finucane will stop until that truth is known.”

Irish American groups must
continue to challenge injustice and encourage stability and lasting change in
Ireland.  The IAUC is committed to working collaboratively with other Irish
American groups, Irish organizations, and politicians worldwide to find the best
way forward.