Lawyer was public face of Provisional IRA in the US during Troubles,
A hardline Irish-American supporter of the IRA who was once banned from the UK by the government has held talks with the Secretary of State on Number 10’s legacy proposals.
Former Noraid publicity director Martin Galvin, who was the public face of the Provisional IRA in the US during the Troubles, met Brandon Lewis in Manhattan on Sunday.
He described the proposals on legacy as the “British government’s final cover-up in Ireland”.
He said the government had issued a personal invitation to him in his Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) role.
“The last time I had dealings with a Secretary of State was when I was banned from entering the UK for six years,” Mr Galvin added.
“This was a substantive meeting which ran over its allocated time. I had the opportunity to put strongly worded questions to Brandon Lewis about the British government’s legacy proposals and to put forward my views.
“He was very engaging and responded directly. I told him the proposed amnesty will massively harm Britain’s standing in the US and urged him not to go ahead with it.
“I was surprised to get the invitation to meet him. The AOH was grateful of the opportunity to outline our views.”
The Northern Ireland Office has been contacted for comment.
The New York lawyer was banned from the UK in 1984 but defied the authorities, appearing at an anti-internment rally in west Belfast. In an attempt to arrest him, the RUC stormed the crowd and shot dead Sean Downes with a plastic bullet. The ban was lifted six years later.
Once a close confidant of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Mr Galvin parted ways with Sinn Fein during the late 1990s, becoming a staunch critic of the peace process and accusing the party of “abandoning republicanism”.
He spoke at events supporting dissident republican prisoners and was a personal friend of Real IRA leader Mickey McKevitt and his wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt.
In his role as Freedom for All-Ireland chair in the AOH, Mr Galvin works with nationalist Troubles victims, campaign groups and others including Sinn Fein.
AOH national vice-president Sean Pender accompanied the ex-Noraid leader to the meeting.
“It lasted around 45 minutes. It was at British offices off Second Avenue. I led republican demonstrations to very near that location during the hunger-strike,” said Mr Galvin.
“I told Brandon Lewis the amnesty proposal would represent the British government’s final cover-up in Ireland.
“The AOH has been supporting the Ballymurphy massacre and Bloody Sunday families and many others for decades. An amnesty would not draw a line under the past but add a new chapter of hurt and injustice.
“It wouldn’t herald an end to the battle for legacy truth but begin fresh court challenges that will cut across new generations. The Stormont House Agreement should be implemented.
“I hope Brandon Lewis rethinks the proposals. He can be in no doubt of the opposition in Irish America, including in Congress, to them. Combined with that in Ireland, it has the potential to cause uproar and seriously harm his government’s credibility across the world.”