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April 20, 2008

Irish Unity High On Irish Northern Aid's Agenda


By Graydon Wilson
Special to Irish Echo

"The war in Ireland is over," Paul Doris began. "The next step is the push
for a united Ireland ." National Chair of Irish Northern Aid, the American
organization formed thirty-seven years ago to support the families of
republican prisoners in Ireland , Doris was speaking at the group's Annual
General Meeting, held in Boston this past Saturday, April 12, 2008.

Emphasizing the strictly political nature of the struggle for independence
from Britain as well as the push for unity, INA brought over two Sinn Féin
members to speak to the gathering -- Seamus Morris, from County Tipperary, in
the Republic of Ireland, and Daithi McKay, from County Antrim in the north.

Morris, a member of the Nenagh Town Council in addition to his full-time job
as a postman, related some of his own family history as an example of
politics being able to accomplish goals in Ireland . He said that both his
father and his brother "left politics" in 1986, joining the dissident group,
Republican Sinn Féin. "They couldn't believe that Ian Paisley could be
brought across the threshold," Morris said. "But that is exactly what
happened last year." Acknowledging Noraid's support over all the years, he
thanked the group "for keeping it going. But it's not done yet. There's a
massive job to do. We need to drive this over the line. We need to drive
the all-Ireland agenda."

Perhaps more than anyone, McKay represented the face of the future. At just
26 years of age, he's a member of the Ballymoney Borough Council, a Member of
the Legislative Assembly and a member of the Police Board. He echoed
Morris's praise for INA. "Without Noraid's support, we wouldn't be where we
are today -- and where we are is closer to a united Ireland ," which he said
was the only guarantee to a lasting peace.

McKay predicted that Sinn Féin will become the largest political party in the
north. He said that the party is looking at areas where unionism is failing
its electorate. "There's a massive working class deficit in terms of
representation," McKay explained. "That's an opportunity for Sinn Féin.
Protestant workers are coming to Sinn Féin, looking for support."

He also criticized Britain 's control of the police as undemocratic. "Police
oversight needs to be taken away from the British and given to the local
politicians," McKay said. "I believe that could happen within the next

Answering questions from the floor, Morris said that the greatest potential
roadblock to unification was apathy. "If we think the job is done, we're in
trouble, " said Morris. "We have to work ten times harder. Noraid has been
there for thirty-seven years and it will be there when the job gets done."

McKay agreed. "There's a danger that we might take all of this for granted
simply because the war is over," he said. "We can't let that happen. We
need to tackle apathy. We must re-motivate those who were there for Ireland.
We need to re-engage Ireland 's supporters." Looking at the tasks ahead,
McKay said that organizing was "the road map to Irish unity, just as Gerry
Adams said at the Ard Fheis in February." He added that Irish Northern Aid
was already playing a role and urged the group to "get stronger."

Rich Lawlor, INA's Regional Director for New England , picked up on the
forward-looking theme expressed by Morris and McKay. " America has always
played a role in Irish freedom," Lawler said. "We need the next generation."
He said that he would like to see Sinn Féin sending young people over to meet
with young people in America and on college campuses. "Get them engaged,
bring in the next generation," Lawler said.

Members attending the AGM hailed from locations all across America ; San

Diego , Chicago , Detroit , Kansas City and Houston ; Boston , Hartford ,
New York City, Cleveland , Washington , D.C. and Vermont . The location
for next year's AGM was discussed but not decided. Venues under consideration
are New York , Philadelphia and Tampa , Florida .
Just come across your article by chance. Mr McKay states that protestant working class are coming over to Sinn Fein.Being a Unionist i have to say this is a untruth,come to N Ireland and you will see for yourself.I will not say it will never happen,but is a very long way off.As for the question of policing and justice,this will not happen in the near future.The Unionist people need to believe that the gun has left for good. Some blame the DUP for the hold up,but the truth is, the Unionist people are just not ready yet. We need a little more time,Rome was not built in a day. Yes we believe that Sinn Fein and the IRA are really trying, 40 years of the gun, give us just a little more time. Union-cruiser
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