The activists, representing several groups, including Irish Northern Aid, the Brehon Law Society and the American Irish Unity Conference said that they held the Unionists and the British government responsible for staging the raids to destroy the peace process.
With placards and a megaphone, the group of about 30 stood outside the consulate at East 51st Street, where protests had been staged in the past at various points in the Troubles.
Richard Butler of Irish Northern Aid led the chanting on the megaphone: “Time to go. Save the Good Friday agreement. No more British troops on Irish Streets. Seventy percent of the population voted for the Good Friday agreement. A handful of Unionist politicians should not be able to stop it.” Another activist smote a bodhran in time to the chant.
Placards attacking the Police Service of Northern Ireland were carried, some which read, “Northern Irish police ignore daily attacks on Catholic neighborhoods,” and “RUC = PSNI. Same bigots, different uniforms.”
Butler said that the protest would “let the British know that Irish America is not going to sit still.”
John T. Fitzgerald was handing out copies of the Irish People newspaper, and said that there was a good response from passers-by.
“They’re coming up and taking papers. As long as they’re expressing an interest,” he said.
Bill Sullivan said he had read about the protest in the newspapers and had come to offer his support from Jersey City. He said that he had watched “Mississipi Burning” on TV the previous night, for maybe the 10th time.
“The shame that was going on then in our democracy is the same as what is happening in Northern Ireland,” Sullivan said. “Can you imagine any American police force conducting a raid on an office of the United States Congress? It’s unbelievable.”
Butler said that the Stormont raid was “an egregious raid by a force that is acting like a Unionist KGB. This was done for the camera, it was political, working to the Unionist agenda.”
He said that protests like this one had been happening for more than 30 years, and that it is important that the British know “that we aren’t going away, you know.”
Butler’s first protest at the consulate had been during the 1981 hunger strikes, when the protest, known over the years as the “long green line” was established.
Butler concluded that he thought the Stormont raid would turn out to be “a serious mistake by the securocrats.”