The forum, under the banner of “Unite Ireland,” and held at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, was attended by over 700 delegates and activists from around the U.S. and addressed by a panel of invited speakers as well as others representing an array of Irish American organizations.
There were also representatives of both the Irish and British governments at the gathering.
The forum was intended as an open debate and the audience was treated to a broad assessment of how Irish unity will be ultimately achieved – more than one speaker stressed that it was a matter of when, not if – and indeed what a unified Ireland might ultimately look like.
One scenario, outlined by Professor Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania, was a possible federation of the present northern six counties and he southern 26.
And in what for many in the room was the emotional heart of the day’s discussions, former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan, a Belfast Protestant by birth, delivered his view of the nature of the division on the island and his hopes for its ending in a series of stories that transfixed his audience.
The forum was opened by Friends of Sinn F