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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Help from America? Thanks but no Yanks

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

It'S that time of year again. Our political elite is once more gathering in Washington for St Patrick's Day and the urge to join Team America has never been stronger.

Even the PSNI has got in on the act. Its officers are marching in the parade in New York tomorrow. Who thought we'd ever see that day?

As someone mad about Manhattan I can't condemn those who prefer to sport their shamrock in Fifth Avenue rather than Royal Avenue.

But please let's stop kowtowing to Americans and expecting them to solve our problems.

Most of them – even those hailed as experts – know next to nothing about us. When the US foreign affairs' sub-committee met for what was supposed to be a high-level discussion about Northern Ireland last week, one Congressman referred to the "five counties".

Richard Haass – widely heralded as the man who would lead us into the light – kept getting Northern Ireland mixed up with North Korea.

Now we mightn't be a model of democracy, and the lack of an opposition at Stormont is shameful, but even Jim Allister has never put us on a par with Pyongyang.

Haass's claim that Northern Ireland could slip back into violence if we don't deal with the past was nonsensical.

The security services are all over dissident republican paramilitary groups which are weaker than they've ever been, and loyalist leaders will start killing again only if their handlers tell them to.

Besides, does Haass seriously think IRA or UVF members would be in the slightest swayed were his proposals implemented? I doubt they've even read his first paragraph.

And how can the US preach peace to us given all it has done in Iraq and elsewhere?

Bill Clinton, who knows more about Northern Ireland than most American politicians, was also far off-target during his recent visit here.

Calling for political progress, he referred to the economic recovery we were making. Try telling that to the 300 DVA workers who have just lost their jobs, Bill.

Everybody wants a better and brighter future but it won't be achieved by believing feel good propaganda or looking for leadership from ill-informed Americans.

Marc 17, 2014
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This article appeared in the March 16, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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