But as 2006 begins, this newspaper would like to propose that Irish-Americans agree on just two political priorities for our community this year.
We have limited time available to us. Our influence reaches its pinnacle around Saint Patrick’s Day, so to be most effective in 2006 we must unite early behind a clear, concise message.
The two issues we propose span the Atlantic Ocean: fair immigration reform in the United States, and full equality in the North of Ireland.
On immigration, it’s almost decision time for Congress.
There are 25,000 undocumented Irish immigrants here — not “terrorists” or “criminals” but hard-working young men and women. We want a fair policy, one that lets them step out from the shadows and become proud, productive members of our community.
In Ireland, Irish-Americans want nothing less than the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement, which was endorsed by the voters North and South in 1998.
In 2006 we expect the restoration of the power-sharing government; a locally-controlled, politically unbiased police force earning the support of Catholics and Protestants alike; and genuine “parity of esteem”, where the Irish tricolor flies alongside the British flag on all public buildings.
Irish-Americans are heartened by the ongoing commitment of President Bush and his special envoy Ambassador Mitchell Reiss to the peace process. They expect Tony Blair’s British government to move swiftly to implement the Agreement. And many will not forgive Bertie Ahern’s Irish government if it puts short-term party political interests above those of Irish citizens in the North.
As they say in the ancient Gaelic language, n