Irish Nationalists address meeting by phone
By Tyrion Perkins
BRISBANE — A meeting of about 100 people here on August 24 spoke directly to Irish activists in Ireland and the US. Australian Aid for Ireland organised an amplified telephone, and people could present questions to Dodie McGuinness of the Sinn Féin executive, Paul Norney, a POW, and John McDonagh, an activist in New York.
McGuinness spoke about the Irish peace process and the good response Sinn Féin had in the recent election. The British government continues to make IRA disarmament a condition to including Sinn Féin in the peace talks. The recent marches by British Unionists and the military attacks in their support are seen as an argument against disarming.
Paul Norney, who was jailed at age 17, has spent over 20 years in British jails. He spoke about the persecution of Irish political prisoners: isolation, being moved continually and held outside Ireland so that families cannot visit. Some have completed their sentences but have not been released.
McDonagh, who runs an Irish radio show in New York, spoke about the US government's reaction during the peace process. During the IRA cease-fire there were expensive Sinn Féin fundraising events, but all such events have now stopped. The US is extraditing Irish prisoners. After previously touring Gerry Adams, leaders of Sinn Féin are again being refused US visas.
The evening, which was interspersed with live Irish music, also included a talk by Martin McMahon, author of a book on the history of Ireland, on the roots of sectarianism and the Orange Order.