Irish republicans have long been familiar with censorship. For years, they accused the federal authorities, aided and abetted by the Irish and British governments, of pursuing a policy of censorship by visa denial — blocking the visits to the U.S. of spokespersons for the Provisional IRA under exclusionary rules that linked them to terrorist activity or its promotion.
Many Irish Americans were justifiably angered by what they saw as interference with their right to hear the republican side of the story about what was actually going on in the North. They suspected that the authorities’ policy of banning Irish republican speakers was not so much to stop them from raising money for terrorism but, rather, to prevent the full truth from being disclosed.
There was general welcome when that policy was overturned in January 1994 with the admission into the country of Gerry Adams.
Now, Marion Price, a former IRA member, is threatened with visa denial to stop her from attending an event in Yonkers on Jan. 29. The event, the Michael Flannery Commemoration Dinner, is being organized by republicans who oppose the current peace settlement as embodied in the Good Friday agreement. Price supports their cause.
This newspaper has always stood for the right of people from all sides of the argument in the North to be given a hearing in the U.S. The case of Price is no different from that of Adams when he was being denied entry. Indeed, what she is saying is more or less what her former fellow Provisionals were saying for years concerning the "right" to use physical force to drive Britain out of Ireland.
For most of this century, that has been the view of an extreme minority. It may well be that the argument is even more unacceptable in many quarters, both here and in Ireland, than ever before, as should be the case. But Americans still have a right to hear it.
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Price should be given her visa and allowed to state her case.