As I prepare to welcome Raymond McCord back to Capitol Hill for the second time this year, I cannot help but have these reflections.
In May, we brought Raymond to Capitol Hill to help him lobby for a Congressional hearing into the collusion and cover-up of the murder of his son, Raymond Jr, in 1997.
Now Raymond is returning to be the main witness at that hearing tomorrow before a House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ sub-committee.
Doesn’t that say a lot — not only about Raymond’s effectiveness — but also about the openness of the United States Congress? Congress often gets a bad rap. But in my near-40 years of dealing with it, I have to say that the vast majority of its members are decent, honourable men and women.
Where else would Raymond McCord be met with such warmth and openness? Not at Stormont — and certainly not at Westminster.
Isn’t Raymond’s truth campaign extraordinary and inspiring? Just think of it: a working-class guy from Belfast — without a political party or organisation behind him, without big money and in the teeth of constant danger and intimidation — had his case vindicated by the O’Loan report and now brings it right into the heart of the US Congress.
The “great and the good of church and state” (Raymond’s description) tried to make him go away by studious silence; the paramilitaries tried to stop him; his own Protestant politicians wouldn’t touch him because Protestant paramilitaries and police collusion were involved; and the British Government tried to demonise and marginalise him.
Yet Raymond stayed in the ring, refusing to quit. And now he is poised to deliver the knockout punch: as a Protestant, who believes in the Union, he will testify to British Government and police collusion in the slaughter of his own beloved son.
Raymond McCord Jr was battered to death with a cement block in a quarry outside Belfast. Because his killers were Government agents and police informers, the crime and collusion were covered up. Well, not anymore. Raymond Jr’s father has seen to that. And Congress will hear all about it.
FR SEAN McMANUS
President, Irish National Caucus, Washington, DC