Tuesday, 21 July 2009

California Dreamin’

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Mac Bride Lobbyists at California State Capitol bend the ear of the late Senator Milton Marks
L-R Joe O'Donoghue Milton Marks Mike Killeen Joe O'Neill

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Mac Bride Lobbyists at California State Capitol
Pat Doherty bottom right

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
[Unnamed male Left]Head of California State Democratic Party John Burton RightCentre Actress Fionnula Flanagan at The United Irish Cultural Centre San Francisco

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
California Senator Barbara Boxer campaigning for John Burton

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco

California, once described by Patrick Doherty as, the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the Mac Bride Principles campaign for fair employment practices by American companies doing business in Northern Ireland, has again shown that Irish-Americans continue to be pro-active in the quest for Irish reunification.
Doherty was, and is at this time, Director of Corporate Responsibility for the City of New York pension funds, and a leading proponent of the Mac Bride campaign.

The Mac Bride Principles were first adopted in California by the City and County of San Francisco, and the legislation was then carried to the State Capitol, first by Assemblyman Tom Hayden, and then by Assemblyman John Burton of San Francisco, the current head of the California State Democratic Party. Passed in several sessions of the California legislature, the Mac Bride Principles were continually vetoed by Republican governors and eventually enacted into law with the election of Democrat Gray Davies.

The latest campaign by Irish-Americans in California is being spearheaded by the Irish-American Democratic Club of San Francisco. At the July 14, meeting of the club, they unanimously passed a resolution calling on the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board to support the reunification of Ireland. At the Sunday July 19, meeting of the Executive Board, the following resolution from the San Francisco club was passed unanimously;

Support for Irish Unification
WHEREAS, the logic of history, international law, human rights and peace dictate the reunification of the island of Ireland, and the reality of the moment -- in the Good Friday Agreement and the development of the All-Ireland institutions of governance -- attest to this momentum; and
WHEREAS, in the past the California Democratic Party and the State Legislature adopted the Mac Bride Principles for Northern Ireland and strongly endorsed passage of the Good Friday Agreement among the previously warring parties, in part because of the dedication of President William Jefferson Clinton, his administration, and Senator George Mitchell in seeing it to fruition; and

WHEREAS, the contribution of the Irish-born, and Irish Americans to this state, nation, and the Democratic Party are legion;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party strongly supports Irish Reunification and urges both the State Legislature and the California Democratic Congressional delegation to support all peaceful actions that support the final reunification of the island of Ireland [Eire] by all electoral and diplomatic means necessary; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Democratic members of the California Congressional Delegation, the Democratic members of the State Legislature, the President and Vice President of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of State.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who recently held a conference in San Francisco; A United Ireland and How Do We Get There? has been supportive of the efforts and sent the following message to Jeannie Marie Maher of the Club, ‘I want to thank you for all of your work in support of Ireland and the initiative you and the Irish American Democratic Club is taking to propose a resolution on the Reunification of Ireland to the California Democratic Party.’

It is early days yet, in this campaign by a small group of individuals in San Francisco, to put Irish reunification on the political agenda of American foreign policy. Regardless of the current state of the economy, California remains the seventh largest economy in the world. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and one of the two California senators, Barbara Boxer, cut their political teeth in the old Burton political machine out of San Francisco. Hordes of would-be political office seekers from less well-off states make the pilgrimage to California in search of campaign funds. The Mac Bride Campaign in the United States, powered only by volunteer labour and miniscule funding, proved what could be done by a small-dedicated band of political activists. They took on the British Foreign Office based in British Consulate offices across the United States who spent millions of pounds to defeat the Mac Bride Campaign and defeated them from one end of the country to the other.

During the war years in Ireland, British embassy staff was able to exploit the concerns of many Americans on the issue of violence and ‘terrorism’. With the current relative peaceful state of political discourse in Northern Ireland, if the British choose to campaign against this effort as they did with Mac Bride, it will be much more difficult to divide Irish-America on moral grounds.
This campaign could develop very large legs. 

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