By Ray O’Hanlon
The San Francisco-based human rights group Northern Ireland Alert has issued its latest ratings scorecard, which charts the interest shown by members of Congress in Irish issues, the North in particular.
The scorecard, the third annual, singles out only five members of the House of Representatives who have shown no interest in Ireland at all during 1999, the period the scorecard covers.
No members of the U.S. Senate are rated by the scorecard as being "Uninterested" in Ireland while, in contrast, four senators and 10 members of the House are given the top rating of "Dedicated Participants."
The four senators are all Democrats: Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and Daniel Moynihan.
The top-rated representatives are a more bipartisan group. This group includes GOP members Ben Gilman, Pete King, Chris Smith and Jim Walsh. The top-rated Democrats are Donald Payne, Joe Crowley, Mike Doyle, Maurice Hinchey, Bob Menendez and Richard Neal.
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The ratings are based on the level of interest shown by Congress members in 23 separate resolutions and bills dealing with the peace process, human rights, political prisoners, policing, economic and cultural issues among others.
In addition to the category of "Dedicated Participants" at the top and "Uninterested" at the bottom, members are assigned various other categories: "Very Active Participants," Active Participants," and "Interested Participants," the category that includes the greatest single gathering of House and Senate members.
Northern Ireland alert said it was calling for the defeat in the November elections of the five representatives who were classed in the scorecard as "Uninterested." They are Reps. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, Christopher Cox, John Hostettler and Ron Paul, all Republicans, and Democrat Gene Taylor.
The scorecard was compiled primarily by James Brosnahan and Dan VanDeMortal of the San Francisco law firm Morrison and Foerster. Both can be contacted for copies c/o Morrison & Foerster, 425 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94105; phone (415)268-6028 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.