Category: Archive

U.S. activists rally against poll delay

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Two weeks ago, a public forum was organized by Sinn Fein to discuss the cancellation of elections and the crisis in the peace process. Minister of health in the suspended Assembly, Bairbre de Bruin, spoke at the meeting.
Tomorrow, the day elections were due to be held,
a demonstration organized by Sinn Fein will take place outside the British consulate on Third Avenue, at 51st Street. “I will be attending,” said Larry Downes, president of Friends of Sinn Fein and a former president of the Brehon Law Society.
Downes hopes that the demonstration will send the right message to the Irish, British and U.S. governments. “This will make a statement and will show how opposed people are to the cancellation of the elections,” he said. “If the British had believed that the elections would go the way they wanted, they would not have prevented them.”
Having received a permit for the gathering, the groups involved in organizing it are focusing on getting as many organizations as possible to attend. They include the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Northern Aid, the Irish American Unity Conference, the Brehon Law Society, Clan na Gael, the Irish American Labor Coalition, the Irish Parades Emergency Committee and Americans for New Irish Agenda.
As chairman of the American for New Irish Agenda, Frank Durkan will also be demonstrating tomorrow. “It will be the voice of the people,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes and from then on will take it one step at a time. Ideally, we would try and make the pressure felt through Congress.”
While meetings and demonstrations have always been the stock in trade of rallying public support for a cause, the popularity of the internet has also proved an important tool.
An email petition, which is addressed to the British, Irish and American governments, is currently doing the rounds. It admonishes those responsible for canceling the elections and encourages people to support their petition.
It reads: “The British government has now cancelled an Irish election, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people. This is in breach of the agreement and against the wishes of the Irish government and the Irish people.”
Last week, it had registered 871 electronic signatures. Last Friday, the number had reached 3279. Created by Irish Northern Aid and written by Gerry Coleman, the petition is hosted as a public service.
The aim of the email is to harness the kinds of support that catapulted the Wolfe Tones’ version of “A Nation Once Again” to top of the BBC “Song of the Century” contest. The email continues: “If the Irish diaspora, in hundreds of thousands, could carry the song…to number one in a BBC contest, it can mobilize to remove the British blockade on Irish democracy.”
Signatures from all over the world appear on the petition with people signing on from Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Basque Country, Malaysia, Japan, Australia and from practically every state in the U.S. Entries range from the hysterically angry to the more sedate. An example of the latter is an entry by Lee Marsden from Norwich, England, which says “Blair and Trimble you’re required to fix a date not fix the election.”
Paul Doris, chairman of Irish Northern Aid is delighted with the response so far. “We have only had it up a short while and this is the first time we have tried something like this,” he said. “The internet is so big and word about the petition is spreading from person to person.”
He plans on presenting the petition to the Irish and British consulates in New York tomorrow. “We will keep it up after that though,” Doris said. “It is an important vehicle where people can voice their opposition to what Tony Blair has done.”

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