THE U.S. GOVERNMENT VISA DENIAL POLICY POSITION PAPER
The National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) will endeavor to engage political leaders, the media and the American public in bringing pressure to bear on the U.S. government to reverse its selective visa denial policy directed at Eire Nua proponents, who wish to promote the Eire Nua (New Ireland) peace plan here in the United States.
Eire Nua (New Ireland) is a comprehensive Irish authored political program designed to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ireland in the context of a British withdrawal. Initially proposed by Sinn Fein in 1972, Eire Nua sets forth specific proposals to start the process of Irish reunification and reconciliation. It also includes proposals for a new all-Ireland constitution. The principle on which Eire Nua is based envisions a system of government in which all creeds and traditions would be represented and all citizens could exercise real power, without any one group infringing on the right of others.
Since 1974, the U.S. government has denied visas to Eire Nua representatives to enter the United States to promote the Eire Nua (New Ireland) program. The U.S. government has acquiesced to pressure by the British and the Irish 26-county governments by summarily denying entry visas to Eire Nua spokespersons including Ruairi O' Bradaigh. The British consider O'Bradaigh and the other targeted individuals to be effective spokespersons for the Eire Nua program, and if granted access to the U. S would pose a serious threat to their own unopposed public relations campaign in the U.S., which seeks to legitimize British occupation of six of Irelands' thirty-two counties.
Representatives of other political organizations who support British arrangements have been granted visas to visit the United States, simply because of their pro-British stance. These organizations include Provisional Sinn Fein, the Socialist Democratic Labor Party, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Official Unionist Party. Also welcomed were members of pro-British paramilitary groups namely the Ulster Defense Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force whose members have been at the forefront of sectarian killings and violence.
In 1978 the leaders of Irish organizations in New Jersey petitioned Peter Rodino, the Chairman of the House Judiciary, to investigate the denial of visas to members of Sinn Fein. The inquiry, which was led by Joshua Eilberg (D PA) and Hamilton Fish (R.NY), took place in Ireland and England in September 1978. Despite the best efforts of the British, Irish and United States governments to set the agenda and select the individuals to be interviewed Eilberg and Fish insisted on including members of Sinn Fein who were denied visas. After interviewing these individuals and confronting them with the reasons given by the State Department for denying them visas, Eilberg and Fish concluded that none of them should have been denied visas. They further concluded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and their British counterparts contrived all of the charges levied against them. Despite these conclusions the United States government continues to enforce this visa denial policy on behest of the British and Irish governments.
The ensuing ĎJustice Report - Politics and Visa Denialsí states that all those who applied for visas should be allowed into the United States and none excluded.
The NIFC believes that representatives of Republican Sinn Fein should be allowed access to the United States to promote the Eire Nua program. This would allow the American public an opportunity to compare and decide for themselves which peace plan offers the best chance for a just and lasting peace in Ireland. The NIFC further believes that this visa denial policy constitutes contempt for the Irish American constituency and is unique in the respect that no other known American group suffers from similar restraints. This policy also constitutes censorship and denies the public the right to freedom of information, and also denies them access to opposing viewpoints on Irelandís political future. On a universal level, this policy violates Basket 111 Agreement of the Helsinki Accords dealing with the free movement of people.
The NIFC believes an injustice has been perpetrated on the American people, particularly, Irish Americans. The NIFC will continue to challenge this visa denial policy and asks those who believe in freedom of expression and peace with justice in Ireland to join us in this endeavor.