Once upon a time in America

The part played by the United States and Irish America in particular in the long turmoil of Irish politics is a whole literature in itself. Their role in our own time is unlikely to reduce the flood. Niall Dowd’s role alone as lobbyist and propagandist is worth a lot of attention. Every assertion in his Easter message is worth a PhD or two, not to mention quite a few loud pub conversations. Examples below the fold:

“Simply put without Senator Mitchell and President Clinton the peace deal would never have happened. Without Irish America neither man would ever have become involved.”

The latter may well be true, but the former? Dowd appears substantially to write out the British governments of Major and Blair.

And then there’s this one:

“Eamon De Valera’s decision to spend 1919 and 1920 in the United States was eloquent testimony to how important the rebellion’s leaders thought the American connection was.”

Might this not have been something to do with the Long Fellow’s desire to get offside, while all the nasty rough business was been carried on by Collins etc in Ireland, as he nursed a growing rivalry and jealousy that contributed so much to the tensions that begat Civil War?

More up to date, the analysis of the role of Washington envoy Richard Haas by Pete in 2007 reads quite ominously now.

Slugger also drew attention to the reversal of the traditional roles of the British and US governments towards the end. It was Mitchell Reiss the American who insisted on widening the definitions of IRA compliance to include criminality, causing tensions with the more amenable British, like Jonathan Powell. Contemporary historians may record that the US role became all the more effective for being even handed as the final deal was reached.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London