About that 'endless debate'..

The American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington last night proved an uncomfortable meal for some. The former (and future?) Presidential candidate Senator John McCain was scathing in his speech – “There is an endless debate about Sinn Fein and its ties to the IRA but what we all know for years is that there is no place in a democracy for a private army engaged in criminal activity.” – Sean O’Driscoll tried, but failed, to get an instant reaction from Gerry Adams and Rita O’Hare as they left. The Washington Post rounds up yesterday’s events and other quotes from the dinner guests.

Some quotes from John McCain’s speech via UTV’s report

“Anyone, Irish, American or British who desires and works for the success of peace, freedom and justice must denounce in the strongest possible terms not only the cowards who murdered Robert McCartney but the IRA itself and any political organisation that would associate with them,” he said.

Nor should they tolerate the veiled threat to the McCartney sisters or to anyone else with the courage and decency to speak the truth about the IRA.“[emphasis added]

Who could he mean?

In the Belfast Telegraph, Sean O’Driscoll also has a report on John McCain’s speech including some of the strongest comments to date from the US –

There is an endless debate about Sinn Fein and its ties to the IRA but what we all know for years is that there is no place in a democracy for a private army engaged in criminal activity. It is not enough for the Sinn Fein leadership to cut its ties to the IRA, the political leadership should call for the IRA to disarm, demobilise and disband once and for all,” he said, to loud applause from the over 2,000 guests at the black-tie event.

The Sinn Fein table remained motionless as Senator McCain said the IRA was hurting the very people it claimed to protect.

“Stealing from banks and slaying men on the streets to settle personal grievances are not the acts of freedom fighters, they are the work of a small minority trying to hold back the forces of history and democracy and they hurt the very people for whom they claim to fight,” he said. “Nobody can honestly claim today that the IRA are any better than an organised crime syndicate that steals and murders for its own members’ personal interests. There is nothing republican about the Irish Republican Army.”[emphasis added]

If, as the Washington Post reports, the American Ireland Fund president, Kingsley Aikins, is correct and This dinner, has become an “interesting barometer” of Irish American relations. “America’s giving a hugely strong signal that this won’t go on, can’t be tolerated.”.. there may be an even bigger storm ahead if that signal is not heeded.

  • Alan McDonald

    Well, we’ve heard from Ted Kennedy and from John McCain in no uncertain terms. Has anyone seen/heard any comments from Hillary Clinton or from Chris Dodd who were also at the Ted Kennedy/McCartney sisters appearance yesterday?

  • lámh dearg

    Hey, there is a link to Slugger (this thread) on the GOOGLE news uk mainpage

    Way to go, Slugger

  • peteb


    A different Kennedy quote blogged here.

    and there’s a link to a clip of the news conference linked in this post.

  • Dave Ray

    Spotted the link on Google, well done sir.

  • Alan McDonald


    Thanks for the info. I followed the link to the video and saw the full coverage including Dodd and Clinton.

  • peteb

    Glad to be able to help, Alan.

    Just one point to note though, from the various quotes it would appear that the clip begins slightly after the start of that news conference.

  • Alan McDonald

    The Dodd and Clinton short speeches are at the end anyway. Also, in her speech, Hillary mentions that a Sinn Fein councillor’s son was murdered and the councillor’s family went to the PSNI for redress. Is this true?

  • peteb

    I can’t confirm that for you, Alan.. possibly someone else may have more info.

  • aquifer

    Hi America. Welcome to the mean streets of Belfast. How did you and Omar Ghaddafi both come to support a gang of Communist cop-killers?

    Did catholic Irish america want to re-run a war of independence back home after arriving to late for yours, or is the the Prods with the plum jobs that bugged them*?

    *the Prods in nineteenth century US cities that is.

  • Alan McDonald

    Hillary appeared to have gotten the information from the McCartneys, and she used it to refute the idea that Catholics won’t go to the police.

  • peteb

    I think it was more about refuting the idea that Sinn Féin don’t go to the police, Alan. Catholics, per se, don’t necessarily have a problem with the police.

  • Alan McDonald


    Yes, she used it as an example of the fact that, in Northern Ireland, both communities DO go to the police. It just sounded like a factoid that SOMEONE might have heard about.

  • Malachy

    Does anyone have any information on McCain’s intervention/interest in Irish politics or the peace process before this ? I’m interested in why he has all of a sudden appeared in the spotlight.

    Interest in this from a arizona republican seems to be a new departure. Has he made any committment to being involved in this once March 17th is over ?

  • peteb

    I agree Alan.. although it’s a factoid that some might want to keep quiet.. and the police would be unlikely to be making a public statment about contact with any family in those circumstances without their consent.

  • Emily

    Here’s another article in the CSM that might interest you, Pete.

  • peteb

    Thanks Emily.. There’s a lot of coverage out there at the minute. Henry Patterson, though, quoted in the article you linked, has done a lot of work looking at paramilitary beatings and shootings in communities here by both Loyalist and Republican gangs. I blogged a story here about him sometime last year.

  • Alan McDonald


    I’m not sure what McCain did to earn the award, but see American Ireland Fund Honors Senator John McCain with Leadership Award at National Gala.

  • alex s

    An interesting thing happened to me in Dublin today, I was down for a garden show at the RDS and got lost, I stopped and asked a well dressed middle-aged man directions, unfortunately I must have misheard him as I promptly tried to enter a one way street the wrong way, in obvious disgust he angrily shouted over “you’re like Sinn Fein, can’t follow directions”

  • Jimmy Sands
  • ulsterman

    Senator McCain interested in Irish affairs. I dont know why he was there. Unless he hopes to become President in 2008. He has never uttered anything over Ireland. He is as disinterested in it as Bush. The only reason Clinton pretended to be interested in Ireland was that he had to try something to divert attention from his impeachment.

    God Save The Queen,

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    On the story of the SF councillor’s son, I do know that the son of the SF councillor for the Short Strand Joe O Donnell was critically injured after being beaten up outside a bar in Ardoyne last year. I know he was on a life support system for quite a while but I believe he survived. Don’t know about any PSNI involvement in the case.

    Perhaps if the Mc Cartneys are the source of the story they might elaborate at some stage.

    Just to set the record straight no one has ever suggested that all Catholics don’t go to the police, they always have, just as some Catholics have always joined the police (ask Durkan). The problem is a sizeable section of the nationalist community have never trusted the police and have a problem dealing with them. Unfortunately for the Mc Cartneys that view of the police is most prevalent in areas like the Short Strand.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Pat McLaron
    Actually Pat, it was not a question of trusting the police it was the knowledge that catholics who joined the police or talked to the police would be intimidated. The sad story of Jean McConville was not an isolated one.

    We must free our society from intimidation by unelected, self serving, thugs.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    you are fundamentally wrong in your assessment. That may be your take on things but dont subscribe your own theories to others.
    The reasons nationalists dont trust the police have been put on this site before and discussed at length before.
    You are of course correct re intimidation and self serving unelected thugs.

  • Brian Boru

    How’s about SF buildsome bridges with the PSNI as a way out of the impasse? Sitting on the board would show the World that SF are interested in Justice for their communitiy.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    SF should do whatever it wants to do with the PSNI. On a previous thread I stated that the SDLP and SF did not go far enough on policing to satisfy me. Too many human rights abusers were allowed to move across from the RUC without any vetting whatsoever.

  • Brian Boru

    ok Pat but would you agree with me that the situation is absolutely intolerable that exists right now. ie everbody knows who the murderers are and nothing is happening!

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    I would indeed yes. No policing service that I know of has 100% clear up rate and the PSNI clear up rate is nothing to shout about.
    Unless these people own up then it may join the list of crimes of everybody knowing who did it but they remain scot free.

  • alex s

    Unless these people own up then it may join the list of crimes of everybody knowing who did it but they remain scot free.

    Posted by: Pat Mc Larnon

    Pat, who’s fault will that be, those that cleaned up the bar, destroyed the CCTV tape, disposed of the murder weapon, told witnesses to say nothing, rioted forcing the police to withdraw from house searches, those that gave the rioters with politicial cover, or the PSNI?

  • mickhall

    How’s about SF buildsome bridges with the PSNI as a way out of the impasse? Sitting on the board would show the World that SF are interested in Justice for their communitiy.

    Posted by: Brian Boru at March 18, 2005 10:26 AM

    Brian Boru,
    Myself I would put the shoe on the other foot, is it not time the PSNI did more to build bridges with communities like the Short Strand, whilst I accept at a senior level much change has been introduced into the PSNI, as Roger has pointed out to us on Slugger. I am less confident that this has seeped down to the lower ranks. In many ways this reminds me of the Met police’s attitude to racism in the 1990s, (plus also some of the big city US forces) It has taken years for the rank and file officers to get to grips with this issue and some officers still have problems with racism, thankfully the senior officers no longer tolerate such behaviour, although whether the canteen culture still does is another matter. The older members of the PSNI have been brought up with the belief that working class Catholics represented a 5th column and are thus fair game, for some of these officers this will never change so one can only look forward to the day they retire.

    Looking at the way the PSNI has handled the McCartney case, there is a lot to be desired, whilst I can understand the difficulties they have come up against. PR wise, which Orde is normally so astute at it has been a disaster area allowing the Shinners to make capital at both the McCartneys and the PSNI expense and why would they not. If the PSNI are having problems solving this case, they should have kept the Short Strand community fully in the picture with regular local briefings etc. Whilst they are leaking to every Tom Dick and Harry in the media, the local community has to glean its information from a very bias media. On this matter the Police committee has not been up to speed either. The arguments put forth as to why the main subjects have not been brought in are infantile, since when has a police service passed up the opportunity to sweat the main suspects in a case. If they have good reasons for not doing so then they should have informed the local community, that they did not shows they just did not believe they had to. Two at of ten for the PSNI on this case.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    alex s,

    Those that cleaned up the bar, destroyed the CCTV tape, disposed of the murder weapon, told witnesses to say nothing were the killers I believe.
    The rioters I believe were children.
    I believe the PSNI were not forced to withdraw.
    Alex Maskey complained about what he perceived as a heavy handed approach from the PSNI.

    We are where we are now, not two months ago. So rather than the whataboutery any ideas on how to get people in court?

  • lámh dearg

    Does SF have a policy on policing (apart from their Paisley impersonation,”NO”)?

  • alex s

    Yes Pat, leave it to the police, good to know you’re on their side

  • ShayPaul

    alex s

    Problem is the keystones couldn’t catch a cold in Alaska.

    It seems that with all the interviews and statements to date that Hugh (widow twankey) Orde should be able to bring some closure to this pantomime one of these days.

    What with all the security personnel who have so succesfully integrated the IRA in recent years, as we are so often informed, may have been a FRU or SB or MI5 agent that stabbed Robert.

    After all 70 Republicans in a bar, surely somebody was tailing one of them, or the security budget is really being badly spent. Maybe if they rip the bar apart they will find a 6 foot plank with a listening device in it ?

    I think Hugh should start by taking all the white vans off the streets as a preventive measure … he could even apply the new control orders …

  • Alan McDonald

    From the US Congressional Record, Thursday, March 17, 2005:

    Condemning Violence and Criminality by the Irish Republican Army: Senate agreed to S. Res. 84, condemning violence and criminality by the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

    The text of the resolution is not yet available.

  • ShayPaul

    Alan McDonald

    Interested to see the text when you can get it.


  • Alan McDonald


    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. Res. 84, submitted earlier today by myself, Senator McCain, Senator Dodd, and others.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.

    The legislative clerk read as follows:

    A resolution (S. Res. 84) condemning violence and criminality by the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

    There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.

    Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to be added as a cosponsor of the resolution.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution and preamble be agreed to en bloc, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating thereto be printed in the RECORD, without intervening action or debate.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    The resolution (S. Res. 84) was agreed to.

    The preamble was agreed to.

    The resolution, with its preamble, reads as follows:

    S. Res. 84

    Whereas on January 30, 2005, a Catholic citizen of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Robert McCartney, was brutally murdered by members of the Irish Republican Army, who attempted to cover-up the crime and ordered all witnesses to be silent about the involvement of Irish Republican Army members;

    Whereas the sisters of Robert McCartney, Catherine McCartney, Paula Arnold, Gemma McMacken, Claire McCartney, and Donna Mary McCartney, and his fiancée, Bridgeen Karen Hagans, refused to accept the code of silence and have bravely challenged the Irish Republican Army by demanding justice for the murder of Robert McCartney;

    Whereas when outcry over the murder increased, the Irish Republican Army expelled 3 members, and 7 members of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, were suspended from the party;

    Whereas the leadership of Sinn Fein has called for justice, but has not called on those responsible for the murder or any of those who witnessed the murder to cooperate directly with the Police Service of Northern Ireland;

    Whereas on March 8, 2005, the Irish Republican Army issued an outrageous statement in which it said it “was willing to shoot the killers of Robert McCartney”; and

    Whereas peace and violence cannot coexist in Northern Ireland: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That–

    (1) the Senate joins the people of the United States in deploring and condemning violence and criminality by the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland; and

    (2) it is the sense of the Senate that–

    (A) the sisters and fiancée of Robert McCartney deserve the full support of the United States in their pursuit of justice;

    (B) the leadership of Sinn Fein should insist that those responsible for the murder and witnesses to the murder cooperate directly with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and be protected fully from any retaliation by the Irish Republican Army; and

    (C) the Government of the United States should offer all appropriate assistance to law enforcement authorities in Northern Ireland to see that the murderers of Robert McCartney are brought to justice.

  • ShayPaul

    Thankyou Alan

  • DXI

    It is not enough for the Sinn Fein leadership to cut its ties to the IRA.
    Well McCain is wrong there for starters, isn’t he?

  • ShayPaul


    Yes he is wrong.

  • Alan McDonald

    DXI and ShayPaul,

    I don’t understand DXI’s question or ShayPaul’s answer. Could either/both elucidate?