By Ray O’Hanlon
One of the eight Irish American organizations listed as a subscriber to a recent ad in the Irish Times – one that outlined opposition to the proposed changes to Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution – has denied that it ever endorsed the ad or its content.
The Bergen Irish Association was listed as a paying contributor to the ad, which was supported by other groups, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Society and Americans for a New Irish Agenda.
But in a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, the BIA refutes “any claim of involvement by the Bergen Irish Association to a paid advertisement which appeared in the Thursday, April , 1998, edition of The Irish Times.”
The letter, signed by the BIA’s president, Kieran Lynch, and its public relations officer, Jim Whelan, stated that the organization, which includes seven affiliated groups, “was not a party to this or any other advertisement covering this subject matter.”
The letter continued: “As an Association, we do not impose any restrictions on individual members of our Association from expressing their views on any matter of any sort. However, it is a longstanding policy that our Association does not get involved in political issues of any kind, whether they relate to Ireland or the United States. Accordingly, our Association did not authorize anyone or any other organization to use our name.”
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The letter, a copy of which was also sent to the Echo, requested a retraction and the “name and address of the individual (s) and/or organization who submitted and paid for the advertisement.”
The ad itself prompted a critical response from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, while the Irish ambassador to the U.S., Sean O hUiginn, expressed his concern to the AOH’s national president, Ed Wallace.
Meanwhile, a debate on the proposed changes to Articles Two and Three and all other aspects of the April 10 Stormont peace accord is being organized in New Jersey next week to coincide with the visit of Sinn FTin _rd comhairle member Martin Ferris. The debate, which will feature speakers both for and against the agreement, is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. at The Grasshopper, 645 Washington Ave., Carlstadt. Expected speakers include Ferris, Martin Galvin and Bill McGimpsey.