THE IRA AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
Matt Morrison - Irish Peace Advocate and Former IRA Member
Friday November 21, 2008
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Case Western Reserve University
The poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty calls for the world to send to America its "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." But neither immigration policies nor foreign policy always fit that sentiment.
The Irish Republican Army is a particularly emotion-laden and important instance of the complexities of U.S. foreign and domestic policies. On the one hand, it long conducted an insurgency against our closest ally, the United Kingdom. On the other, it has had strong support from the Irish population in the United States, represented by major political figures. As a result, U.S. policy towards the IRA has shifted with other foreign policy pressures (such as a desire for support from Prime Minister Thatcher's government on other matters during the 1980s), and with the ambitions and preferences of Presidents.
Matt Morrison came to the United States in 1985, having served ten years in prison for armed opposition to the British government. In 1997, the Clinton Administration suspended deportation proceedings against Matt and other veterans of the IRA, in order to "contribute to the peace process" in Northern Ireland that did, in fact, result in the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998.
There are certainly some bitter-enders and unsettled questions about the situation in Northern Ireland. But no one should deny that the situation is very different from the three decades before the Good Friday Agreement.
But the status of the former IRA men has never been permanently settled and now, in the shadow of 9/11, support for permanent residence for former "terrorists" is caught up in a different set of foreign and domestic policy issues. Mr. Morrison joins us on November 17 to discuss the peace process, the U.S. role, and the challenge of what to do about the combatants when the combat ends.
As usual, we will gather in Room 9 of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, on the lower level of Crawford Hall, for free cookies, beverages, and brown bag lunch.
About Our Guest
Matt Morrison came to the United States in 1985, married and had two children, became a registered nurse and now works as head nurse at a hospital in St. Louis. By the age of 13, in 1969, he was participating in protest actions against the British government in Northern Ireland. At sixteen years of age he was present for "Bloody Sunday" on January 30, 1972 in Derry, and saw several persons shot.
In 1975 he was arrested and sent to Long Kesh Prison for participating in a gunfight with British troops. He is now a former IRA member who describes himself as "vociferously supporting the peace process throughout" and active in "keeping American supporters on board throughout the peace process."
The process in Northern Ireland continues, and there have been major advances, virtually unthinkable a decade ago. But there is still much room for progress. For one extremely positive view, see http://www.canada.com/topics/travel/story.html?id=df62baf9-66f8-462b- 9f2b-0414c0587e08. For timely reasons for much more concern, see http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24637942- 2703,00.html.
Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:
November 28: Thanksgiving Break
December 5: "Prospects for the Obama Administration.” Presidency scholar Doug Brattebo Ph.D. J.D., who currently serves as President of Corporate College of Cuyahoga Community College.
The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of
Crawford Hall. Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made. On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion.
Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building. The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch. On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.
For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see http://policy.case.edu.