By Ray O’Hanlon
Sinn FTin president Gerry Adams is expected to visit New York for four days beginning Wednesday, May 27.
The visit, coming only a few days in the wake of the two May 22 referenda in Ireland, will feature a fund-raising event and what party supporters in New York are describing as a major address to be delivered at the American Irish Historical Society in Manhattan on the evening of the 27th.
The announcement of the visit came as the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs strongly welcomed Sinn FTin’s weekend endorsement of the Northern Ireland peace agreement.
And in the wake of the overwhelming support of the accord expressed at Sunday’s special _rd fheis, Irish Americans will hear the views of both supporters and critics of the agreement in two debates, the first of which takes place tonight, May 13, in Carlstadt, N.J.
A second debate is scheduled for the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan this coming Sunday, May 17.
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The Carlstadt event, which is being presented as an “Open Forum on the Irish Peace Agreement and the Referendum on Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution,” will feature a list of speakers, among visiting Sinn FTin _rd comhairle member Martin Ferris, attorney Martin Galvin, and Bill McGimpsey, whose political roots are in Unionism.
Other listed speakers are attorney and civil rights activist Richard Harvey, Jean Forest of U.S. voice for Human Rights in Ireland, and John McDonagh, the host of WBAI’s “Radio Free Eireann” show. The moderator will be Ed Lynch of the Lawyers Alliance for Justice in Ireland.
The Sunday Debate at the Irish Arts Center will feature Richard Harvey, who is also general counsel for Sinn FTin; Gabriel Megahey, deportee and former prisoner; McDonagh, and human rights activist Sandy Boyer.
In its statement, meanwhile, the Ad Hoc Committee congratulated Sinn FTin for its backing of the accord, describing the move as a courageous decision that would be greeted on both sides of the Atlantic by those who shared Sinn FTin’s goal of peace and reconciliation in Ireland.
“The unity demonstrated by your party brings added momentum to a process that offers the best hope for peace in a generation,” the co-chairs, Rep. Ben Gilman, Richard Neal, Tom Manton and Peter King said.
The four lavished praise on Sinn FTin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, whose leadership had “made this historic opportunity possible.”
They described the May 22 referenda as “an extraordinary and unprecedented moment for an island so consumed by its past.”
In other developments, Ad Hoc Committee members met last week in Washington with a delegation of Irish American leaders from Americans for a New Irish Agenda, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Unity Conference and Irish National Caucus.
And President Clinton last week reiterated his support for the accord sign on Good Friday when he met with a delegation from the anti-violence Wave Center in Northern Ireland.
“America has stood by those who have stood for peace, and we will continue to do our part to help the people of Northern Ireland realize the tangible benefits of peace so the despair that accompanied violence can give way to faith in the future,” Clinton said.