is " An Open Letter" As you know, I have
many times privately and publicly expressed my appreciation
for your good work on the Irish Peace-Process. But
you also know I have constantly tried to explain
that the one thing Catholics in Northern Ireland
cannot stand -- about the way officialdom treats
them -- is "the double standard" (real
or perceived). And the specter of that double standard
also inflames Irish-Americans.
however, I am forced to accept that my humble efforts
have singularly failed, as the Bush Administration
increasingly appears tone deaf on this matter.
President Bush embraces (no visa restrictions) Dr.
Paisley, who has spent 60 years of his 80-year life
trying to keep Catholics at the back of the bus,
and the last 10 years trying to wreck the Irish
peace-process and the Good Friday Agreement. Yet
President Bush refuses to embrace (visa restrictions)
Gerry Adams, who more than any other person has
made the Irish peace-process and the Good Friday
you can see what's wrong with that picture? Surely
political correctness alone (whether one agrees
or disagrees with that current coin of the realm)
should have dictated caution?
the question ineluctably arises, "Why is President
Bush so desensitized on the Irish-Catholic issue"?
Didn't his famous visit to Bob Jones University,
Dr. Paisley's main American sponsor, teach him anything?
Or has the extreme fundamentalist wing of the U.S.
Republican Party so captured the President's ear
that he actually wants to be seen as endorsing Paisley's
anti-Catholicism? This, of course, would not have
become an issue if the President were seen to be
even-handed, embracing equally all the political
Parties in Northern Ireland. It has been forced
upon us as an issue by the President's perceived
double standard and apparent overt bias.
enclose yet another article by Brian Feeney ("SF
won't make the same mistake twice", The
Wednesday Column, Irish News, February 22,
2006) regarding the ongoing concerns about the PSNI.
you well know, Mr. Feeney is a former SDLP elected
official, not a member of the IRA or even a member
of Sinn Fein (I feel I have to emphasize this, because
sometimes it appears to me that the Bush Administration
and your good self seem to act as if you thought
only Irish Republicans have problems with the PSNI).
Mr. Feeney states, among other things, " ...
those same transient British politicians have not
picked up the growing anger and frustration among
nationalists at the refusal of the PSNI or anyone
else in authority to deal with loyalist terrorism
and the evidence of continuing collusion between
the police and loyalists who have murdered both
Catholics and Protestants since the Good Friday
have put restrictions on Mr. Adams's visa because
you are trying to force (blackmail?) Sinn Fein into
endorsing the PSNI. Such tactics seem to trivialize
the whole vitally important issue of creating an
acceptable police for Northern Ireland -- a police
service that is "fair and impartial, free from
partisan political control; accountable, both under
the law for its actions and to the community it
serves..." as the Good Friday Agreement envisioned.
Mr. Feeney's article helps to explain Sinn Fein's
well-known difficulties with the PSNI and elaborates
on their conditions for endorsing the police.
setting aside, for the moment, the issue of Sinn
Fein's position on the police, could it not be argued
that Dr. Paisley is even more opposed to the PSNI
than Sinn Fein? After all, Dr. Paisley totally opposed
any change to the old RUC, vigorously fought Patten,
gleefully trounced David Trimble for allegedly colluding
in the demise of the RUC, and still advocates, in
effect, not an acceptable police service but a Protestant
militia, which would continue to be the armed wing
of Unionism, keeping uppity Catholics in their place...
And for this, the Bush Administration embraces him!
Mitchell, needless to say, I am not advocating that
Dr. Paisley be shunned (indeed I have "embraced"
him myself). I am advocating that the Bush Administration
shuns the double standard and returns to being an
honest broker in the Irish peace-process -- being
even-handed, not taking sides or being seen as the
Recruiting Sergeant for the PSNI. Is that too much
for Irish-Americans to expect as we approach St.