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Irish National Caucus lies must be challenged

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 29/01/2016

The Irish National Caucus is a disproportionately influential lobby group based on Capitol Hill in the USA. It was founded in February 1974, and judging by its latest video nasty - allegedly an educational tool - it has learned little about the real Northern Ireland since that time.

Its description of the province paints a picture, which if it was ever true, is now safely consigned to history. The Caucus in its mission statement describes itself as a human rights organisation dedicated to getting the US to stand up for justice and peace in Ireland.

Whatever its intent, it is certainly going about its mission in a strange way by peddling outdated stereotypical anti-unionist propaganda designed to appeal to Irish-Americans who have little or no appreciation of what life is like here in the 21st century.

Consider some of the comments propagated in the video. It claims there is continuing anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland, a suggestion that takes no cognisance of the many reforms which have been introduced over the past 50 years, such as equal voting rights, fair employment and equality legislation and, perhaps most significantly, the advent of power-sharing which sees the DUP and Sinn Fein as the two major parties in the current governing administration.

To claim that a significant proportion of the unionist/Protestant population resents sharing power with Catholics because they have never regarded Catholics as equals flies in the face of the overwhelming support given to the main unionist parties who make up the Stormont administration.

Quite rightly First Minister Arlene Foster has described the video as misleading at best and downright sectarian at worst, and urged viewers to reject its analysis. It needs to be challenged in the most forthright terms given that the Caucus has its base right at the heart of the US administration and has the ear of many in Congress.

Northern Ireland, in spite of the huge advances made, requires major international investment to create a vibrant economy and the US is a prime target for those seeking to bring new employment opportunities to these shores.

Mrs Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness must make it a priority on their visits to the US to counter this baleful propaganda and tell opinion-formers there the real facts of life here.

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