Ted Smyth



Journal of American Ethnic History 
Irish American Organizations
and the Northern Ireland Conflict in the 1980s:
Heightened Political Agency and Ethnic Vitality

Winter 2020

By Ted Smyth

Abstract Drawing on two confidential reports, this article demonstrates the significant political agency exercised in the 1980s by Irish and Irish American politicians supported by an unusually robust form of ethnicity. Embodied in hundreds of cultural and fraternal associations, this vigorous Irish American ethnicity was animated by political passion arising out of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The first report, by the Irish Embassy in Washington in 1980, provided first-hand accounts of the widespread activities of Irish American associations, with a view to enlisting their support in resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. The embassy and Irish American political leaders formed a powerful “Irish lobby” in Washington seeking a solution based on nonviolence and equality between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists, strengthening the hand of the Irish government in its negotiations with the British government. The second report, compiled in 1988 by Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA, sought to bring the Irish American republican movement into line with Sinn Féin’s recent decision to seek a political solution to the conflict. As Sinn Féin moved gradually away from violence, it exerted control over Noraid, the most important of the hardline Irish American organizations. Both the Irish government and Sinn Féin mobilized an Irish American ethnicity that, fafrom being merely “symbolic,” was rooted in tangible social and political processes in which Irish immigrants and their descendants played the leading role. Whether that ethnicity can retain its vitality in the absence of continued immigration and an animating political cause is an open question.


HOW MANY OF THE FORTY MILLION Irish Americans self- identified in the 1980 US Federal Census were actively involved in Irish organizations? How critical was associational culture, especially Irish political nationalism, in Irish ethnic identity in the 1980s? How united or divided were Irish Americans in relation to the Northern Ireland conflict? How important was Irish American political leadership to the achievement of a lasting peace in Ireland?
    Two confidential reports written in the 1980s provide new answers to these questions, offering a fresh insight into Irish ethnicity in the United States during a decade that was critical to peace in Northern Ireland.These reports, which allow for a transatlantic analysis of the interactions of the Irish Government and Sinn Féin/IRA with Irish America, demonstrate the significant political agency exercised in relation to Washington and the Northern Ireland conflict by an unusually robust Irish ethnicity in the 1980s.

    The confidential Washington, DC Irish Embassy Report on Irish American Organizations was commissioned in 1980 by the Irish ambassador to the United States, Seán Donlon. (1) The second report, Irish American Organizations and Political Involvement, was secretly commissioned in1988 in Belfast by Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.(2) The Irish American organizations examined in the two reports represented Ireland’s diasporic community, which exercised a significant impact on the Northern Ireland conflict, either directly through support for violent or nonviolent activities or by influencing US Government engagement in the conflict. With British- Irish negotiations on Northern Ireland at a stalemate in 1980, the Irish Embassy Report was intended to provide Dublin with insights into how to channel Irish American concern and anger away from support for the IRA and toward support for a nonviolent solution. An internal Department of Foreign Affairs memorandum in early 1981 confirmed that successive Irish governments were conscious of the potential of the United States to influence British policy on Northern Ireland and “have consequently sought to convince U.S. administrations andrepresentatives of the rightness of our views in order that they might exercise that influence.” (3) Sinn Féin’s essential objective in commissioning its report, by contrast, was to assert control over Noraid (Irish Northern Aid, the US fundraising agent of Sinn Féin/IRA) in order to seek American support for Sinn Féin/IRA’s new strategy, which had changed from seeking power solely through terrorism to pursuing a dual track strategy of violence combined with electoral politics.
    The two reports document a time of heightened transnational interdependency between Irish America and Ireland. While this interdependency ultimately contributed critically to the Irish peace process, sections of Irish America supported IRA violence for many years, provoking conflict with the Irish government and raising questions as to who was in control, the home- land or the diaspora. Writing that a transnational approach to history has “considerable merits for the study of ethnic nationalism between Ireland and the United States,” historian Kevin Kenny quotes Thomas N. Brown’s classic observation that Irish American nationalism “was directed chiefly toward American, not Irish, ends.” (4) In this sense, Irish American nationalists saw the Northern Ireland conflict not only as a worthy cause to protect fellow Irish Catholics, but as a kind of quest for Irish authenticity in America, leading to “the increasing interest of second- and third- generation Irish Americans” in hardline republican organizations like Noraid. (5) Historian Brian Hanley noted how Noraid “claimed that its supporters were the ‘direct descendants of those’ who faced the same enemy (the British) at the ‘Bridge at Concord’ 200 years ago.” (6)  The writer Jack Holland described this relationship as a “complex, Janus- like one, in which the past and future mingle and often cannot be distinguished from each other, in which the politician has a role along with the rebel.”(7)   
    The Northern Ireland conflict and the discrimination against Catholic nationalists by the British government and by Protestant unionists animated many Americans of Irish descent whose sense of ethnic identity had faded in the mid- twentieth century migration from close-knit city parishes to the suburbs. Following the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” killings by the British army of thirteen unarmed Catholic marchers in Derry, the New York journalist Pete Hamill wrote, “Something exhilarating has happened to the Irish this past year, the reforging of a lost cultural identity.” Hamill cited the war in Belfast as a major factor in the sudden interest of young Irish Americans in their Irish ethnicity, the formation of “the New Irish who had moved on.”(8) The political activist Tom Hayden, whose great- grandparents had emigrated from Ireland, first realized he was “Irish on the inside” when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing “We Shall Overcome” in 1968. (9) Hundreds of existing and new Irish American associations organized protests and resolutions denouncing British rule, a level of ethnic political engagement not seen in Irish America since the campaign for Irish independence in the early 1900s. Some Irish Americans, reared on stories and songs of British brutality against the Irish from the nineteenth century famine to the Black and Tans in 1919–1921, were drawn to the conclusion that only the violent defeat of the British would secure justice for Catholics in Northern Ireland.
    The Embassy and Sinn Féin reports highlight the efforts in the 1980s by the Irish Government and Noraid to win the support of this reenergized Irish America for two sharply contrasting solutions to the Northern Ireland conflict. The Irish Government sought Irish American and US government support for the achievement of Irish unity by exclusively peaceful means, including the consent of Protestant unionists. Sinn Féin/IRA, on the other hand, sought weapons and support from Irish Americans for a terrorist campaign to force British withdrawal from Northern Ireland against the wishes of the Protestant unionist community. Following years of killings and bombings by extremists in both communities in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin began to understand in the mid-1980s that violence was not effective and devoted more resources to a political campaign. The Embassy Report details the intensive push by Irish diplomats and visiting politicians from Ireland to seek the backing of hundreds of Irish American associations and media for the Irish government’s goals. (10)   The Sinn Féin Report focused on two subjects as Sinn Féin sought support for its evolving electoral strategy in Northern Ireland, a policy vehemently opposed by Noraid’s leaders who favored armed force. First, the report highlighted the perceived deficien- cies of Noraid, observing that “within the Irish American Community the entire organization is generally regarded as ‘terrorist and conspiratorial.’” (11)   Second, and relatedly, the report sought to create the “broadest possible alliance” in support of Sinn Féin/IRA, including New York politician Peter King’s position that Noraid needed to “acquire a front organization,” ideally “an untarnished ‘front line’ organization like the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) which it ought to control.”(12)
    Importantly, the Irish government did succeed in creating a broad and powerful coalition of Irish American politicians and organizations, not in support of Irish unity, but in support of a policy that recognized the equal rights of Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland, a policy later termed “parity of esteem.” (13)   Both the Embassy and Sinn Féin reports point up the crucial standing of Irish American organizations in the politics of the “Irish Question” on both sides of the Atlantic. And both documents reveal their authors’ ideological leanings in their separate, competing approaches to secure the support of Irish America for their sharply competing campaigns.


    The Embassy Report details the remarkably broad and dynamic range of organizations that constituted Irish America in 1980. The report provides intricate information on hundreds of thriving associations—county, Emerald, philanthropic, and cultural—many of them vying to define Irish ethnic identity across lines of class, religion, gender, politics, and income levels.
    Irish diplomats delivered the Irish government message to as many events as possible, speaking at breakfasts (including Roman Catholic Communion Breakfasts), lunches, parades, feisianna (arts and culture festivals), lectures, plays, debates, ceilis (dances) and balls, sporting events, installation of society officers, picnics, music festivals, and “last but not least, Irish pubs.”(14)
    From the Irish government’s perspective, fundraising by Noraid, with its overt support for the IRA, constituted support for terrorism—weakening Irish nationalism, destabilizing the Irish Republic—and needed to be openly opposed at every opportunity. This led to confrontations with sections of Irish America, including the leadership of the largest Irish American association, the Ancient Order of Hibernians. It is clear from the Embassy Report that the divisions and controversy arising from the Northern Ireland conflict permeated, and to some extent animated, just about every aspect of Irish ethnic engagement, including culture, arts, philanthropy, Gaelic games, Irish music, parades, county associations, and Emerald societies. Notwithstanding the problem that sections of Irish America supported IRA violence, the Irish Government was careful not to be seen to lecture Irish Americans. “While few Irish Americans will accept a didactic message from Dublin as to whom they should endorse or support,” a Department of Foreign Affairs brief noted, “it is possible to harness their assumptions and appeal to their concerns, for example, by emphasizing the hope of securing the coming together of the Irish people and the need for reconciliation between the communities in Northern Ireland as necessary first steps.” (15)
    In the initial stage of the Northern Ireland conflict in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the Irish government and Irish America had been manifestly unsuccessful in persuading President Nixon to criticize horrendous Briitish government actions in Northern Ireland such as the 1971 internment of Catholic nationalists and the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings. Ambassador Donlon noted that when he served in Boston in the late 1960s, the Irish American community did not have significant political influence in Washington: “My view was formed in part by conversations with Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John McCormack. I remember, in particular, bringing John Hume to see the Speaker in his Boston office in October 1969. John had just addressed the Donegal Men’s Association. The Speaker politely but firmly told us that the people whom we should be talking to were the politicians on Capitol Hill, many of whom were hungry for information about Northern Ireland.”(16)
   In the 1970s, this strategy of engaging Irish American leaders in Washington began to pay off. By the middle of the decade, a new Irish diplomatic campaign focusing on powerful Irish American politicians won support for reforms in Northern Ireland that would undermine the IRA’s appeal. In a demonstration of ethnic political agency that rivaled that of the Jewish lobby, the Irish Embassy and John Hume forged a powerful coalition in Washington centered on the “Four Horsemen” of Irish America: Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Senators Edward Kennedy and Patrick Moynihan, and Governor Hugh Carey of New York. Irish American politicians had engaged with the cause of Irish freedom in the past, but none were as powerful or as committed as Tip O’Neill during his speakership from 1977 to 1987, when he had significant influence with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. O’Neill was ably backed in the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy, a senior politician with enormous influence both in his own right and as a brother of President Kennedy and Senator Bobby Kennedy. The “Four Horsemen,” supported by the vast majority of the Irish ethnic community, played a major role in ensuring the success of the Irish peace process.
    In 1977, Speaker O’Neill persuaded President Carter to recognize the legitimate role of the Irish government in Northern Ireland, a first for the US government, which had hitherto only recognized British rule in that province. Four years later, at the urging of John Hume and Ambassador Donlon, Speaker O’Neill created the Congressional Friends of Ireland, a grouping of the most influential senators and congressmen in the country. President Reagan went to the Irish Embassy to endorse the Friends organization, calling on “all Americans to question closely any appeal for financial or other aid from groups involved in the conflict to ensure that contribu- tions do not end up in the hands of those who perpetuate violence.” (17) Jack Holland concluded that the reason the Irish government succeeded in these negotiations with the British government “was due in large measure to the power and influence of the American connection and the success with which Irish diplomats utilized it.”(18)
    The 1980 Irish Embassy Report on Irish American Organizations provided important details on Irish American political agency. Whereas tens of millions of Irish Americans celebrated their ancestry on St. Patrick’s Day, maybe two to four million engaged regularly with the twelve national and 221 local Irish American organizations covered in the Embassy Report.(19) Irish diplomats regularly briefed these associations, averaging five evening functions a week and “very few officers stationed at the Consulates General ever [had] a weekend without some engagement in the Irish American community.”(20) Ambassador Donlon wrote that more frequent informal contact with individuals and small groups within the community “was an even more effective way of maintaining the links and encouraging Irish Americans to support the economic, political and cultural objectives of the Irish Government.”(21)
    Irish American associations that attracted leaders in business, the professions, and academe tended to support the Irish government’s position on Northern Ireland. A prominent example was the Ireland Fund, set up by business leader Tony O’Reilly (later Sir Anthony O’Reilly) and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney in 1976. The fund sought to channel the generosity and concern of Irish Americans away from violence to the goals of peace, culture, and charity. O’Reilly endeavored to educate and inform the American public “about what he saw as the complexities of Irish identity and how that inflamed passions dangerously.” (22) The Ireland Fund hosted black tie dinners in major American cities, with its annual New York dinner, “the biggest and best organized of such functions . . .raising an estimated total of $150,000 in 1980.”(23)
    Similar associations included the American- Irish Foundation, set up by Ireland’s president Éamon de Valera and US President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to promote cultural and educational links between both countries. “It has had its ups and downs,” the Embassy Report observed, “but in recent years under the active Presidency of Bill Vincent (of County Kerry and San Francisco), it has been substantially reorganized . . . making grants totaling $94,933.00.”(24) The Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, which included “among its members prominent Chicago- Irish politicians, judges, business- men and professional people . . . organized a successful public function on the occasion of the then Taoiseach’s official visit to the United States.” (25) The Eire Society of Boston invited Speaker O’Neill and John Hume as guests of honor at its annual dinners, drawing on each occasion a large crowd decidedly in favor of a constitutional nonviolent solution in Northern Ireland. These associations were also critical for achieving the Irish government’s economic goals of increased investment by Irish American corporate leaders in order to create badly needed jobs in Ireland.
    The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick—wealthy, prestigious, male- only groups found in most cities with large Irish American populations—could also be relied on to support the Irish Government’s goal to reconcile Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. The charters of the Friendly Sons in Philadelphia (the oldest Irish association in America, founded in 1771) and Boston ensured that those Friendly Sons functioned as mixed Catholic/ Protestant groups, with the presidency rotating every year, harking back to a pre-Famine time when Irish Catholic and Protestant immigrants frequently belonged to the same merchant and professional class. The Embassy Report observed that in most cities, “membership of the Friendly Sons was a badge of Irish- American success,” but “ their direct connection with Ireland or Irish affairs is in most cases very limited.” (26) Many of their members regularly visited Ireland as tourists, but most avoided the controversy arising from the violence in Northern Ireland, preferring to stay on the sidelines.
    The Irish government’s ability to rally support for its Northern Ireland policies in the United States, particularly in Washington, depended on securing support among the American media. Irish diplomats and visiting politicians like John Hume regularly engaged with columnists and editors seeking support for the US government’s political pressure on the British government. American television coverage tended to simplistic and intermittent coverage of the conflict, framing it either in terms of a religious war or “IRA versus Brits.” Notable exceptions were CBS television’s documentary “A Tale of Two Irelands” in 1975 and ABC TV’s, “To Die for Ireland” in 1980. Irish diplomats mostly focused on newspaper editorial boards and nationally syndicated columnists such as Mary McGrory of the Washington Post, Dave Nyhan of the Boston Globe , and Michael Killian of the Chicago Tribune. Some of the London- based US journalists who covered the Northern Ireland conflict tended to take the British government line that little could be done to solve the “Irish Problem,” but in the United States, Irish diplomats and Irish American organizations persuaded editors and producers to support a more interventionist policy by the United States. For example, the New York Times , which had in the 1970s warned against US involvement in Northern Ireland, praised the Congressional Friends of Ireland in 1981 for “establishing a new forum for the responsible discussion of what Americans can and should do to help.”(27) The Philadelphia Enquirer also supported a greater American role in finding a solution. “The time has come for the U.S. government to press Mrs. Thatcher harder to be more flexible, with quiet diplomacy if possible,” as one editorial stated, “but failing that with the outspoken frankness that the deteriorating situation demands.”(28)
    Irish American ethnic media were much more anti- British in their tone and sometimes ambivalent about the IRA violence. Of the ten Irish American newspapers listed in the Embassy Report , the largest of them, The Irish Echo, was described as “usually positive towards government policies but at times critical and impatient.”(29) The Irish American News in Chicago had “noncontroversial” political appeal, while the Boston Irish News aimed at “impartiality.” More troubling for the Irish government was the Irish People, edited by the spokesman for Noraid, Martin Galvin. It was composed of local Noraid news and items reprinted from An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin newspaper in Ireland. The Irishman , a new paper edited by Niall O’Dowd in San Francisco, was characterized by the Embassy as “independent.” In addition, the Embassy Report noted fifty-seven regular radio programs broadcast across the United States, usually of one- hour duration on week-ends,concentrating on Irish music, interviews, reports on local events, and sports results from Ireland. (30)
    The Embassy Report profiled five additional associations whose popu- larity and reach across the United States demonstrated the cohering power of Irish sports, music, language, and culture in shaping ethnic identity and political influence. Some of these organizations proved problematic politi- cally for the Irish government on Northern Ireland, including the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann (CCE). (31) Founded in Ireland in 1884, the GAA had been active in the United States for nearly one hundred years but faced “decline, mainly because of the end- ing of immigration from Ireland.” (32) In 1980, Gaelic sports were still played in the New York City area and in Albany, the greater Boston area, New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut, and in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. In Boston, the GAA Board “organize[d] an annual banquet to which the Consulate [was] invited.” (33) The GAA was also “strong in Chicago” with “approxi- mately fourteen local clubs, each with reasonably good membership.” (34) Irish Embassy diplomats “had not been invited to the annual dinner of the GAA since 1977 due to the pro- Noraid sympathies of the leadership,” although the diplomats did regularly attend the GAA annual feis in Gaelic Park, New York. (35)
    Irish music too was caught up in Irish politics, with the New York Con- sulate excluded from the1980 Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann metropolitan concerts, a slight attributed to the influence of Noraid, “which had tables selling material and literature” at the concert. (36) Comhaltas Ceoltóirí, founded in 1951 to promote Irish music and dance, was thriving in 1980 in “many centers, notably New York, Hartford, Boston, Chicago, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.” (37) However, the New York Consulate was in regular contact with Bill McEvoy, the US tour coordinator and a leading member of the New York – area CCE. The Boston Consulate reported that the local chapter of CCE was “very active” organizing “regular ceilis and seisuns with a view to eventually purchasing their own premises.” Irish diplomats were “in close contact and [had] friendly relations with [its] officers and members.” (38)
    The embassy also reported on the role of groups teaching the Irish language in the United States. The principal group, the Gaelic League, remained largely free of divisions over Northern Ireland according to the Embassy Report. The Consul General in Chicago pointed out that the local Gaelic League had “no connections with political groups” and the Consul- ate had “good relations with its officers.” (39) The Embassy Report stated that “Irish classes and other activities to promote a knowledge and awareness of the language were especially well attended in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Detroit, and there were few centres of Irish American activity where someone was not involved in organizing Irish classes.” (40)
    The American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), founded in 1962, exercised a significant educational influence in American universities, but very few courses explicitly covered the Northern Ireland conflict in the early 1980s. (41) ACIS published a newsletter for seven hundred members and participated “in joint activities with other U.S. academic groups such as the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association.” (42) All the Irish diplomatic offices in the United States in 1980 reported hosting receptions for ACIS conferences and there was little evidence of any support for IRA/Sinn Féin. The Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI), founded by Dr. Eoin McKiernan in Minnesota in 1964, was “organized strictly along cultural lines with no religious or political point of view.” (43) The Embassy Report observed that McKiernan used television documentaries and visiting theatre groups and artists from Ireland to continue “his personal mission of increasing the awareness in the United States of the Irish cultural achievement.” (44) With Princess Grace of Monaco as IACI Honorary Chair, McKiernan inaugurated a popular “Irish Way” summer enrichment program that brought hundreds of Irish American teenagers to Ireland every year.
    While much of the cultural vitality of Irish American organizations related to the increased interest in the Northern Ireland conflict, it also reflected a deep appreciation by millions of Irish Americans for their rich heritage, especially the literature of Nobel Prize winning writers like Yeats, Shaw and Beckett. In addition, during the 1980s many Irish American associations were boosted by the arrival of thousands of Irish immigrants fleeing recession at home, with the lower skilled among them gravitating “toward their ethnic group, where informal networks facilitate(d) their entry into the labor market.”(45) Many of these “New Irish” were undocumented, motivating Irish American leaders to form the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM), which successfully delivered a series of visa lotteries in the 1980s for thousands of these immigrants. As one writer noted, “Northern Ireland was a hot political issue” for this movement which did not want to offend “the American political establishment and Irish Americans.”(46) And even if a minority of the undocumented had sympathies for Noraid, they tended to keep their distance from Noraid events knowing that many were under FBI surveillance.
    The Embassy’s competition with Noraid for influence became more apparent in the Irish county associations and Emerald societies, which tended to attract members disdainful of British and WASP culture in general. Follow ing the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, severely limiting immigration from Ireland, the county associations ceased to be a national force. Only New York City, where twenty- three of Ireland’s thirty- two counties had associa- tions, showed regular activity, including the annual dinner of the United Irish Counties where both the Irish Government representatives and Noraid were acknowledged, a compromise that often led to friction.(47) Unlike the county associations, the Emerald organizations drew on a broader spectrum of Irish America than the first- generation immigrant, being active in civil service sectors like police, fire, and sanitation that had multi- generational hiring traditions. By 1980, the Embassy felt that its anti- violence message was being heard more widely in these circles, reporting that the Emerald societies were “usually anxious to identify with Ireland in some way.” (48)
    The Embassy Report did, however, express particular concerns about the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Restricted to Catholics of Irish descent, the AOH had an estimated 171,000 members in 1980.(49) The Embassy reported that even though only 385 delegates attended the 1980 AOH annual convention in Florida, that was where Noraid had succeeded in securing support. The National Board had “severed all formal contact” with Irish government representatives “though individual diplomats continue to maintain contact with some Board members.(50) The Consulate General in Boston reported that both the national AOH president, Jack Connolly, a native of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts state AOH president, Gerard Sexton, were members of Noraid: “There have been instances of Noraid functions having been held in AOH premises and of cooperation . . . in the organization of func- tions.” The Chicago Consulate reported that some AOH “members whom we know [were] inclined to take an anti- Government stand on Northern Ireland . . . I was speaking to an AOH member recently who told me that they had approximately 1,000 members in Chicago, but this organization had been dormant for some time. He said they were hoping to revive it.” The Rockland County, New York AOH founded a Political Education Committee (PEC) in 1975 that had expanded to four state branches “very critical of Irish Government policy on Northern Ireland.” Suffolk County, New York’s division was “well disposed to Irish Government policy,” but the Bronx and Nassau County AOH Boards had active pro – IRA factions. New York’s Irish Consulate told Dublin that the Chairman of the AOH’s “Freedom for All Ireland Committee,” Martin Higgins, collected “circa $7/8,000 p.a. for ‘Green Cross’, Belfast for ‘relief of families of political prisoners’” and that New Jersey’s AOH committee opened a “Book of Freedom” to record the names of those who were dying in Ireland’s current struggle for freedom.(51) The Embassy, cautioning against exaggerating the differences between the Irish government and the AOH, observed that the overwhelming number of AOH divisions in the United States maintained excellent relations with official Irish representatives and went out of their way to dissociate them- selves from the pro- IRA actions of the National Board. The Connecticut State AOH was in “regular contact” with the New York Consulate, which reported on their “moderate approach on Northern Ireland.”(52) The Boston Consulate maintained informal, helpful, and friendly relations with officers and members of the AOH, in particular “Rev. Daniel Bowen, chaplain of the organization who was well disposed towards the Irish Government’s position.”(53)
    At a time when support for IRA violence had been waning in Irish America, the IRA hunger strikes in 1981and the death of imprisoned IRA leader Bobby Sands, in particular, renewed widespread anger against the British government and rekindled support for the IRA and Noraid. Nevertheless, some of the Sinn Féin leaders like Gerry Adams realized the limitations of a purely violent campaign and became convinced by the election of Bobby Sands to the British parliament before he died that electoral politics could also advance the cause of Irish unity. Sinn Féin spokesman Danny Morrison rhetorically asked, who will object “if with a ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in this hand, we take power in Ireland?”(54)


   The inherent contradictions of seeking power through violence and the democratic process would eventually require Sinn Féin to make a choice between the two paths. In 1986, Adams, chairman of Sinn Féin since 1983, started down the electoral route by persuading the Sinn Féin annual conference to remove its ban on taking seats in the Irish parliament. Some republican hardliners led by Ruairí O Brádaigh walked out and formed RepublicanSinn Féin, but Adams retained the support of the majority for the dual track articulated by Morrison. Adams sought to pursue this new strategy in the United States, arguing that “a greater awareness by publicity and political campaigns” would be advantageous for Sinn Féin.(55) This precipitated an internal contest for control of Noraid, whose leaders like Michael Flannery had already profoundly disagreed with Adams, believing that involvement in politics would detract from the primary purpose of raising cash, forcing Noraid to compromise its support for the “armed struggle.” Adams and Sinn Féin had already moved beyond this hardline position when in 1986, the Belfast Redemptorist priest Fr. Alec Reid said to Irish Opposition Leader Charles Haughey that Adams “believed there was a stalemate and that neither the British nor the IRA could win the war.” 56 Adams and Ted Howell, Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs director, seemed determined to use the Sinn Féin Report to bring Noraid into line with their new strategy, even if it meant undermining veteran Noraid leaders. It seems likely that Adams and Howell commissioned the Sinn Féin Report to this end, choosing as its authors Declan Kearney and Oistin MacBride, who would spend three months interviewing key Irish American supporters across the United States.(57) Both authors had strong Republican credentials to offset Noraid leadership suspicions; Kearney’s father, Oliver, was an active supporter of the MacBride Principles on fair employment.(58) Oistin MacBride’s brother, Antoine, an IRA member, had been shot dead by the British SAS (Special Air Service) in 1984.(59)
    In November 1988, the completed Sinn Féin Report was mailed to Noraid executives in the United States, prefaced by a letter from Sinn Féin treasurer (and veteran Irish republican) Joe Cahill and Ted Howell.(60) “As promised in our last letter,” they wrote, “find attached our views on the importance of USA vis- à- vis the struggle in Ireland and our position on some ways by which the requirements of the Irish struggle might be advanced in the USA. The contents of the paper are not gospel. They do however provide the background against which the discussions at our meeting will take place and encompass most of the relevant points of the appropriate agenda.”(61) The Report ’s 180 pages included sections on “The International Dimen- sion,” “Cooperation and Collaboration Between INA (Noraid) and the Irish American Community,” “The Role of the INA Executive,” “The Operation of the INA Office and Irish People ,” “Political Lobbying and Publicity,” plus “Area Profiles of the INA Organization.”(62) The Report was scathing in its criticism of the Noraid leadership, asserting it did not have “the ability to administrate [sic] or control INA on a planned national basis. And it is not representative of the organization with regard to gender, geography or generation.”(63) In the Report ’s “Conclusions,” Noraid is described as “lethargic and impoverished.” (64)   
    Noraid had indeed received very little support from the American media for its demand that the British withdraw from Northern Ireland, although the Sinn Féin Report stated that there were many journalists who “must be identified and cultivated in a systematic way,” including Dennis Hamill and Dennis Duggan of Newsday , Pete Hamill of the Village Voice , syndicated columnist Jimmy Breslin of the Daily News , Frank Lynn of the New York Times , and Warren Hinckle of the San Francisco Chronicle. (65) The fact that only five hundred people had joined a protest in New York City against the British government in 1981 led Breslin to conclude that “Their presence did more to point out the disappearance of the Irish in America than it did to provoke outrage against the British.”(66) Despite extensive American media coverage, the IRA hunger strikes failed to secure legitimacy for Sinn Féin/ IRA in the United States. As sociologist Aogán Mulcahy later concluded, “The dominant news frame used to report the Northern Irish conflict reflects the discourse of terrorism and has conspicuously failed to bestow legiti- macy on paramilitary organizations.”(67) The negative reaction by the Irish government and US establishment to the selection of Noraid leader Michael Flannery as grand marshal of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1983 confirmed this absence of legitimacy. The American media denounced what they saw as the endorsement of IRA terrorism, many politicians and schools withdrew from the parade, and all US Army bands boycotted the event. New York’s Cardinal Cooke refused to give Flannery the usual public greeting of the grand marshal at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but he did meet him privately to stress “that the way of violence was futile, immoral and interfering with the peace process.”(68) The Cardinal, reflecting the policy of the Irish Government and the “Four Horsemen,” told Flannery he was “well aware of denial of human rights and justice in the North of Ireland, and that by the political process something had to be done about it.”(69)
   While most of the Irish American media offered a voice to both the Irish government and Sinn Féin, some editors were more partisan. Pat Farrelly, the Irish- born editor of the Irish Voice
newspaper (founded by Niall O’Dowd in New York City in 1987) seemed “to be a strong supporter” of Sinn Féin according to the Sinn Féin Report .(70) Farrelly is quoted as believing that “the solution to building a viable political presence in the U.S. rest[ed] in the maintenance of a Sinn Féin presence” and that the republican movement needed to “fill the void left by Noraid’s exclusivist emphasis upon fundraising.” He recommended “systematic infiltration of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) and concurrent agitation amongst the immigrant youth” who were, in his opinion, “highly embittered against the [Irish] Free State.”(71) Farrelly saw the need for “an articulate and intelligent spokesperson” because “it was a source of concern to him that Hume and the Free State government officials are allowed to propagandize with impunity throughout the U.S.”(72)
    Sinn Féin enjoyed greater success in securing support from American labor unions, especially local unions, which seemed to have fewer reservations about IRA violence. Brian Hanley observed that “Trade unions with large Irish memberships or with an Irish leadership such as the New York Transport Workers Union . . . were all early financial contributors to the organization.” (73) George Meaney, the first president of the AFL and CIO from 1955–1979, was of Irish descent and sympathized with Irish national- ists in Northern Ireland. John Sweeney, whose parents came from county Leitrim and who became president of Local 32B- 32J representing 55,000 building maintenance workers in Greater New York, frequently attended Sinn Fein events. Sweeney was grand marshal of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1979.(74) The executive secretary of the California AFL/CIO, John Henning, strongly supported the San Francisco Noraid unit.(75) Teddy Gleason, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, also elected grand marshal of the New York St Patrick’s Day parade, was a long term Noraid sponsor. (76) Noraid and a small group called the Irish American Labor Coalition led by Joe Jameson backed the MacBride Principles to generate American labor union support for fair employment for Catholics in Northern Ireland. The Sinn Féin Report nevertheless described Jameson as “a closet radical socialist” who advised the authors to “study the experience and development of the ANC, PLO and FMLN [sic] in establishing operations in the US.”(77) Jameson said that American progressives and the working class were natural allies and “cast aspersions upon the value or long term commitment” of Peter King’s support, “deriving as it does from the US right.” (78)
    While Noraid had little success in penetrating cultural organizations such as the Gaelic League, the American Conference for Irish Studies, or the Irish American Cultural Institute, the Sinn Féin Report reviewed two additional Irish associations that were more supportive. The Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC), created by Texas millionaire Jim Delaney in 1983, sought to create a pan Irish American alliance to pursue Irish reunification and national self- determination. Andrew Wilson observed that “the formation of the IAUC raised great enthusiasm and expectations among militant Irish American groups.”(79) However, the IAUC’s reliance upon Delaney “came to an abrupt conclusion when his corporation sustained financial difficulties” in 1987, causing him to step down as president and compromising the IAUC’s potential for Sinn Féin. 80 The second organization, Clan na Gael, once the American powerhouse for Irish nationalism, had declined to what the Sinn Féin Report estimated as a national membership of only 150. The report added that, despite its formal links with Sinn Féin, the Clan was “riven with conflict, suspicion and intense disharmony.” 81 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was closely monitoring the Clan in 1988, which may explain this level of disharmony and distrust. A “source of good reliability” to the Bureau advised that if current internal problems in Noraid were not resolved, “Clan na Gael will be the organization that emerges as the major support organization for the republican cause” because, although the total monies it collected were less “than those collected by Noraid, 100 percent of those monies [went] to the armed struggle.”(82) The FBI source clearly exag- gerated the ability of the mostly dormant Clan na Gael to rival Noraid. One of the Clan’s few active branches was in Toledo, Ohio, where they “organized demonstrations against British officials throughout the Midwest.”(83)
    Like the Embassy Report , the Sinn Féin Report concluded that Noraid’s influence among Irish Americans was exaggerated by the media, except during those periods of heightened anti- British outrage such as Bloody Sunday in 1972 and the IRA hunger strikes in 1981. The Embassy Report had recorded that “the vast majority of Irish Americans remained aloof ” from Noraid. The Sinn Féin Report similarly observed that Noraid’s “introvertedness and self- generated poor image means that it has a credibility threshold to cross in making outreach to the vast human rights/progressive constitu- ency.”(84) Some of those interviewed in the Sinn Féin Report complained that the Irish government and John Hume had much greater access to power and influence in America than Noraid. The “Four Horsemen” had publicly denounced Noraid in 1977, and two of the leaders, Senator Moynihan and Governor Carey, refused to join the 1982 New York St. Patrick’s Day parade that chose Noraid leader Michael Flannery as grand marshal.
    According to returns submitted to the US Department of Justice, Noraid had more than thirty units in the United States and raised $180,000 in 1980, with the greater portion of this coming from the East Coast.(85) One estimate in 1984 put Noraid’s membership at “5,000 members across the UnitedStates,” although “many of these were not necessarily active.”(86) Noraid’s annual dinner in 1980 was “attended by about 1,200 people” and garnered “$25,000 in advertising revenue.”(87) In New York City, fundraising occurred in all five boroughs for the “Million Pennies” collection in Irish bars. The Boston Consulate reported five Noraid units in its jurisdiction; Lynn’s was the most active, with fundraising events like dances and “family musical and film afternoons.” Noraid worked “out of a number of pubs in the Chicago area and suburbs,” the Embassy Report observed.(88)
    But Noraid had become significantly weaker by 1988, not only because of the IRA bombing and killing of civilians in Ireland and Britain, but because of the US Department of Justice’s success in having the group register as an agent of the Provisional IRA since 1981.The Sinn Féin Report’s detailed analysis of Noraid’s state and city chapters in the Northeast and Midwest asserted that only a minority of members was active, with ten to twenty activists in each chapter. According to one writer, the “terrorism” label “kept Noraid on the margins of political life and restricted its appeal to a handful of traditional Irish republicans and Irish American activists.”(89)
    The Ancient Order of Hibernians, however, was a potential cover for much deeper republican support. The Sinn Féin Report , while noting that the AOH was in “poor shape as regards leadership material,” concluded that it “continues to be of central importance within a large part of the Irish American community . . . capable of applying some political muscle when it tries and gets disproportionate results because of its standing as the biggest Irish American organization and its ultra-clean image. There is not much anti-republicanism as such, more passive ignorance of our position, something that can surely be capitalized on.”(90) In an interview summarized in the Sinn Féin Report , the New York politician Peter King, noting that Noraid’s influence was “restricted because of its association with SF/IRA,” advised that Noraid “leadership and [Irish] republican – controlled AOH leadership [could] create a formula for developing an all- embracing U.S. structure for maximizing political action on Ireland.(91) Then Comptroller for New York’s Nassau County, King was a second generation Irish American whose grandmother, a staunch Irish republican from County Limerick, thought Michael Collins was a traitor and Éamon De Valera a hero.(92) As a politician in New York, King said he saw what American Jews were able to achieve, and what African Americans were doing about South Africa, and yet “Northern Ireland was being inaccurately reported.”(93) “While I don’t support everything the IRA did,” he later recalled, “there was something legitimate there.”(94)
    For King, the AOH “was of central importance” to Noraid . . . “Five- eighths of AOH membership are socializers,” he noted, “while leadership and core activists are republicans.”(95) This assessment was echoed by historian John Ridge, who stated, “The only thing Irish” for many was their surname.”(96 King believed the AOH had “a lot of political potential because it [was] respectable within the Irish American community,” but the key was who was national president at any given time. In 1988 “Nick Murphy [was] dangerous because [he was] only political in so far as it [was] expedient to do so.(97) The Sinn Féin Report ’s authors concurred that Murphy was “somewhat ineffectual and tend[ed] to sway too much in the political breeze of the day. He attended the dinner in New York City for Charlie Haughey [elected Taoiseach of Ireland in 1987] recently which caused dissent in the ranks.”(98) The past president of the AOH, Joe Roche, however, would “doubtless continue to be a contact and a potential ally when it is expedient for him.”(99) The Sinn Féin Report wrote that the AOH had “access to the media and the [Catholic] Church” that gave “it a disproportionate amount of influence.”
    Another related organization, the Irish National Caucus (INC), had emerged in late 1973 with the support of Noraid and the AOH to lobby in Washington for Irish republican issues. Founded by Northern Ireland – born priest, Fr. Seán McManus, it enjoyed some initial success as a support group for the IRA in Washington, forming the Ad-Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs before it was eclipsed by Speaker O’Neill’s Congressional Friends of Ireland. Both the Sinn Féin Report and the Embassy Report dismissed the influence of the INC, with the Embassy noting that INC “propaganda is aimed primarily at Belfast and Dublin media and at some Irish American newspapers.”(100) The Sinn Féin Report asserted that the INC had “dwindled in importance in recent years” while still managing to “maintain public prominence.”(101) Nevertheless, the INC played a major role in banning the sale of US weapons to the Northern Ireland police in 1979 and launched the MacBride Principles in 1984.(102)
    In December 1988, Gerry Adams, armed with the Sinn Féin Report ’s negative findings about Noraid, bluntly informed Noraid’s national executive at a meeting in Dublin that its efforts “were too limited, and that it would have to build contacts with ‘progressive’ organizations in the U.S.”(103) According to the Irish Voice, the result of the meeting was a unanimous agreement to expand the Noraid executive and “work towards becoming national and democratic in structure.” (104) Supporters of Adams’s electoral policy were added to the Noraid executive, and within a year, many of the original Noraid leaders were marginalized, resigning from the organization to form the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF), “devoted exclusively to raising funds for the families of republican prisoners.”(105) Hardline Republicans such as Michael Flannery, aggrieved by being outmaneuvered by Sinn Féin, placed full- page advertisements in the Irish Echo and Irish Voice denouncing the betrayal of Noraid’s original mission. The Irish People , now solidly support- ive of Sinn Féin, responded with an article headlined, “No Split in Noraid, asserting that Honorary President Pat O’Connell had privately resigned and that the Executive unanimously supported “a more thorough, coordinated, strategic and vocal approach to solidarity work that would complement and eventually increase fundraising potential and increase membership.”(106) Sinn Féin issued a sharp repudiation of the criticism, claiming that the names on the advertisements “will undoubtedly be used by British propagandists to undermine support for the dependents of prisoners and is, in effect, an abandonment of the Irish Republican Movement.”(107) FOIF engaged in protracted hostility with the Sinn Féin – dominated Noraid for a number of years thereafter, identifying with the breakaway extremist groups Republican Sinn Féin and the “Real IRA” in Ireland, and opposing the 1994 IRA cease- fire. The FBI added FOIF to its surveillance list, reporting that it “increased in popularity and fund- raising capabilities in the New York and Boston areas . . . allegedly dealing direct with Republican Sinn Féin in the County Tyrone area.”(108)
     Importantly for Adams and the Irish peace process, Noraid and the new leadership in the United States installed by Sinn Féin subsequently endorsed both the 1994 IRA ceasefire and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, both of them intensely supported by President Clinton and the Congressional Friends of Ireland. Notably, the Good Friday Agreement included the right of a majority in Northern Ireland to reject a united Ireland, a traditional non- starter for Irish republicans. Ed Moloney later speculated that the marginalization of the hardliners like Flannery from Noraid back in 1989 “was another bonus, possibly unanticipated, possibly well anticipated. When the IRA declared its ceasefire . . . the American opposition had already left town. By chance or design, the Kearney- MacBride report had pulled Noraid’s sharpest teeth.” (109)

   The significant political agency exercised by an unusually robust Irish ethnicity in the 1980s
demonstrates that it had not entered the stage of “late-generation ethnicity,” defined by
sociologist Herbert Gans as being confined “almost entirely to feelings,” not actions.(110) The Irish American community that emerges from the two reports is closer to what Conzen et al. describe as “a dynamic process of ethnicization . . . where power and politics, in the broadest sense, both internal to the groups and in their external relation with ‘others,’ are basic to the formation and preservation of ethnicities.”(111) This dynamic was stimulated by political passion arising out of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the conflict reflexively grew stronger as an imaginative focal point for effective Irish American political agency. In that process, the Irish government and Irish American political leaders challenged both Sinn Féin/IRA and their American supporters in the 1980s to think hard about their identity and history, moving away from a simplistic “Brits Out” position on Northern Ireland to one that vigorously supported equality for Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists. This Irish American shift successfully pressured the British Government to recognize the political and cultural rights of Catholic nationalists in the Anglo- Irish Agreement of 1985, paving the way for the Good Friday Agreement peace settlement in 1998.
     By the end of the 1980s, the growing Irish American support for the Irish government’s Northern Ireland policies and the reduced following for Sinn Féin /IRA’s violence seemed to confirm Kevin Kenny’s observation that a “version of ethnic identity could triumph only to the extent that it was acceptable to those holding power in the society at large.”(112) At a very practical level, most Irish Americans with economic or cultural links to Ireland were reluctant to break ties with the Irish government or its agencies in the United States, much less identify with an organization fundraising for what the US government deemed terrorist activities. During the late 1980s, even those Irish Americans who had been ambivalent about denouncing IRA violence realized that the violence had gone on too long and was counterproductive. This thinking mirrored the increasing consensus in Ireland that IRA violence, irrespective of its repugnance in moral terms, weakened Irish nationalism with “nationalists north and south, and the Irish-American community all divided on the question of the legitimacy of violence, thus preventing a political combination for electoral or other purposes.”(113)
    In retrospect, the 1980s and the 1990s marked the high point of Irish ethnic political influence in the US Congress and in the White House, a level of agency in both the United States and Ireland unlikely to be achieved again, absent so compelling and emotional an issue for Irish America as justice for fellow Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland. In 2018, a New York Times book reviewer pointedly, if inaccurately, urged American Jews to embrace their Judaic culture, warning that “American Jews are two or three generations away from being as Jewish as ‘Irish’ people whose Irishness consists of drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.”(114) Unlike Jewishness, Irish American ethnicity, lacking a compelling political cause in Ireland— although Brexit is stirring old hostilities—is dependent in the twentyfirst century on Irish culture to foster an ethnic identity and a two- way relationship with its changing homeland. Nor can it rely, as it did for so long, on constant replenishment through immigration. Only time will tell whether this focus on cultural organizations and trans-Atlantic exchanges will be sufficient to maintain a meaningful Irish American community engaged in reciprocal interactions with Ireland, not imagined or merely symbolic, but rooted in tangible associational and political processes of the kind that animated Irish ethnicity in the 1980s.


1. Irish American Organizations, A Report on Their Activities in 1980 (hereafter Embassy Report ), Embassy of Ireland, Washington, DC, Department of Foreign Affairs, Papers of Seán Donlon, Killaloe, County Limerick. Prior to his appointment as Irish Ambassador to the United States in 1978, Donlon played a role in the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement. In 1981, as Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, he was a principal architect of the Anglo- Irish Agreement of 1985. Donlon joined the private sector in 1987 and later became a special advisor on Northern Ireland to Taoiseach (Prime Minister) John Bruton. In 2016, he was appointed Chair of the Press Council of Ireland, Honorary Degree Profile , National University of Ireland, www.nui.ie.
2. Sinn Féin Report on Irish American Organizations and Political Involvement (hereafter Sinn Féin Report ), John T. Ridge Collection (AIA 068), Archives of Irish America, NYU.
3. “The Northern Ireland Problem in the USA,” January 21, 1981, 1, file P1050232, Archives of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
4. Kevin Kenny, “Twenty Years of Irish American Historiography,” Journal of American Ethnic History 28, no. 4 (Summer 2009): 73. Thomas N. Brown, Irish- American National- ism (1966).
5. Brian Hanley, “The Politics of Noraid.” Irish Political Studies 19, no. 1 (2004): 4.
6. Ibid., 7.
7. Jack Holland, The American Connection: U.S. Guns, Money
and Influence in Northern Ireland (Dublin: Roberts Rinehart, 1987) , 6.
8. Pete Hamill, “Notes for the New Irish: A Guide for the Goyim,” New York Magazine , March 13, 1972.
9. Tom Hayden, Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America (New York: Verso, 2003).
10. Ambassador Donlon was also conscious of the fact that “official Ireland had lost contact with Irish- America in the 1960s on the issue of immigration. Robert Kennedy as Attorney General had offered Ireland a generous arrangement, which the Lemass Gov- ernment, prompted by Ken Whitaker (Secretary of the Department of Finance) who was concerned about continuing emigration, had firmly rejected—to the intense annoyance of Irish- America.” Donlon, email interview with author, November 26, 2017.
11. Sinn Féin Report , “Overview,” 4.
12. Sinn Féin Report , “Appendices,” Peter King interview, 1. In 1981, King was elected Nassau County Comptroller in Long Island, New York. In 1992, he was elected to the US House of Representatives, becoming chair of the House Homeland Security Committee from 2011 to 2013. The AOH, the largest Irish American organization, was founded in 1836 with the initial goals of protecting Catholic churches from attack and assisting Irish Catholic immigrants.
13. In 1998, Sinn Féin/IRA eventually adopted this policy when it acceded to the Good Friday Agreement and ended its campaign of violence.

14. The county associations were based on the traditional loyalty of Irish immigrants to their native county in Ireland. The Emerald societies, organizations of American law enforcement officers or firefighters of Irish heritage, promoted fraternalism and Irish cul- ture. Charitable organizations tended to attract business and professional classes with Irish heritage and a myriad of cultural groups catered to a wide variety of tastes in Irish culture, music, dance and literature.
15. Minister’s Brief, Department of Foreign Affairs Archives, 3.
16. Seán Donlon, email interview with author, November 26, 2017. John Hume, a civil rights leader in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, became leader of the nonviolent nation- alist party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), in 1979 and was the principal architect of the Northern Ireland peace process for the two decades leading up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
17. Ronald Reagan: “Statements on St. Patrick’s Day,” March 17, 1981, accessed April 12, 2018, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=43547. IRA bombings of civilians in London, especially the Harrods department store bombing in London in 1983, alienated most Irish Americans from the IRA. In 1985, President Reagan, prompted by Speaker O’Neill, pressured British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to sign the Anglo Irish Agreement, giving Dublin a role in Northern Ireland for the first time. Asked later by the chairman of the British Conservative Party why she had agreed to this concession, Mrs. Thatcher replied, “It was the Americans who made me do it.” Quoted in Maurice Fitzpatrick, John Hume in America (Newbridge, Co. Kildare: Irish Academic Press, 2017), 130.
18. Holland, The American Connection , 151.
19. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 1. Thirty million of the forty million respondents who chose Irish ethnicity in the 1980 US Census reported multiple ancestry, leaving ten million Americans as exclusively of Irish descent.
20. Ibid., 5.
21. Ibid., 1.
22. Matt Cooper, The Maximalist: The Rise and Fall of Tony O’Reilly (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2015), 125.
23. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 2.
24. Ibid., 1.
25. Ibid., 5.
26. Ibid., 4–5.
27. “How Ulster Became an American Issue,” New York Times , March 28, 1981. From 1979 to 1998, the Times ’s editorials on the Irish conflict were largely written by Karl E. Meyer, who had become fascinated by the issue during his time as Washington Post London bureau chief.
28. “Mrs. Thatcher Must Act to Ease Ulster’s Agony,” Philadelphia Enquirer , July 22, 1981.
29. Embassy Report , “Irish American Media,” 1. 30. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 5.
31. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, New York,” 8.
32. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 2.
33. Embassy Report ,
“Consulate General, Boston,” 6.
34. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, Chicago,” 2.
35. Embassy Report ,
“Consulate General, New York,” 8.
36. Ibid., 2.
37. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 3. 38. Embassy
Report , “Consulate General, Boston,” 6.
39. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, Chicago,” 2.
40. Embassy Report ,
“Summary by Ambassador,” 3.
41. Maureen Murphy, ed., Guide to Irish Studies in the United States , American
Confer- ence for Irish Studies, 1982, Vertical Files, NYU.
42. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 1. 43. Edward D. Marman, The Encyclopedia of the Irish in
America , ed. Nathan Glazer (South Bend, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1999), 445–46.
44. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 1.
45. Mary P. Corcoran, “The Process of Migration and the
Reinvention of Self: The Experiences of Returning Irish Emigrants,” Éire- Ireland 37, nos. 1 and 2 (Spring/Summer
2002): 188.
46. Íde B. O’Carroll, Irish Transatlantics, 1980–2015 (Cork, Ireland: Attic Press, 2018), 56. The IIRM, founded in 1987, sought to address the problem of thousands of undocumented Irish in the United States by changing the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act which gave preference to immigrants with families in the United States. This Act proved prejudicial to European countries like Ireland whose emigration to the United States had slowed in recent years. See Marvine Howe, “Working to Help Irish Immigrants Stay, Legally,” New York Times , November 27, 1988.
47. Ibid., 4.
48. Ibid., 4.
49. Alan J. Schmidt, Fraternal Organizations (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 158.
50. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 6.
51. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, New York,” 3–5. The report noted that each of the New York County AOH Boards had between nine and thirteen active divisions with the exception of Rockland County with five, and Albany with two. All sponsored local St. Patrick’s Day parades, plays, concerts, feiseanna, Irish Field Days, Hibernian Days, and Communion Breakfasts, as well as “Masses for Peace” and “Pro- Life” dinners.
52. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, New York,” 5.
53. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, Boston,” 7.
54. Ed Mol
oney, A Secret History of the IRA (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002), 203.
55. Andrew Wilson, citing Ted Howell in Andrew J. Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster Conflict, 1968–1995
(Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1995), 278.
56. Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA , 72.
57. Ed Moloney, “Sinn Féin’s Secret 1988 Report on Noraid,” The Broken Elbow, A View of the World from New York and Belfast , March 30, 2016 (Public PGP Key: 210D6F47), 3–4. Declan Kearney in later years became chair of Sinn Féin and a member of the Northern Ireland assembly.
58. The MacBride Principles of fair employment, drafted by Nobel Laureate Seán Mac- Bride in 1984, became Federal requirements for US employers in Northern Ireland in 1998.
59. Moloney, “Sinn Féin’s Secret 1988 Report on Noraid,” 3–4.
60. Patrick Mullin, a member of the Noraid executive, received this report from Sinn Féin at his Yonkers, New York, home in November 1988. Mullin was one of five men including Michael Flannery who had been charged by the US Attorney in New York in 1982 with conspiring to smuggle weapons to the IRA. All five were subsequently acquitted by a jury who “believed defense contentions that
the Central Intelligence Agency had sanctioned their gun- running operation.” Robert D. McFadden, “Five Are Acquitted in Brooklyn of Plot to Run Guns to IRA,” New York Times , November 6, 1982.
61. Letter from Sinn Féin to Joe Cahill and Ted Howell, November 1, 1988. Sinn Féin Report on Irish American Organizations and Political Involvement , John T. Ridge Collec- tion, (AIA 068), Archives of Irish America, NYU.
62. In 1989, the Irish Voice was given some access to the Sinn Féin Report and noted that it “painted a picture of an organization (Noraid) that was ghettoized and lacking in professionalism . . .after 17 years of existence it still had no
full- time worker.” “Noraid at the Crossroads,” Irish Voice , October 14, 1989.
63. Sinn Féin Report , “Overview,” 3.
64. Sinn Féin Report , “Conclusions,” 1.
65. Sinn Féin Report , “Cooperation and Collaboration between INA and the IAC,” (G) 4; Sinn Féin Report , “Public Relations/Political Lobbying Mailings.”
66. Jimmy Breslin, “Life’s Gone Out of Irish in America Too,” New York Daily News , August 9, 1981.
67. Aogán Mulcahy, “Claims- Making and the Construction of Legitimacy: Press Cover- age of the 1981 Northern Irish Hunger Strike,” Society for the Study of Social Problems 42, no. 4 (November 1995): 452.
68. John T. Ridge, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York (New York: AOH Publica- tions, 1988), 171.
69. Ibid., 171.
70. Farrelly had a brother active with Noraid in San Francisco and another who wrote for the An Phoblacht/Republican News , Sinn Féin Report , “Appendix,” 3–5.
71. Sinn Féin Report , “Appendices,” 5.
72. Ibid., 4–5. Sinn Féin/IRA supporters, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Irish Republic, referred to it as the Irish Free State.
73. Hanley, “The Politics of Noraid,” 1–17.
74. John T. Ridge, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York , 166. Sweeney was elected president of the AFL- CI0 in 1995.
75. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, San Francisco,” 8.
76. Hanley, “The Politics of Noraid,” 5.
77. Sinn Féin Report , “Appendices,” Joe Jameson, 1.
78. Ibid., Joe Jameson, 2.
79. Wilson, “Irish America and the Ulster Conflict,” 216.
80. Sinn Féin Report , “Irish American Unity Conference,” 2. The Sinn Féin Report had little to say about the Council of Presidents set up in January 1988 to focus “the collective muscle of the member organizations upon selected issues.” Members, including the AOH, the IAUC, INA, and the Irish American Labor Coalition, concentrated on five issues: Joe Doherty, visa denial, immigration, MacBride Principles, and the International Fund for Ireland, the latter financed by the US Congress following the Anglo- Irish Agreement.
81. Sinn Féin Report , “The International Dimension,” Clann [sic] na Gael, notes on IAC (Irish American Community)
82. U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “Clan na Gael”, April 6, 1988. New York Office, file no. 199F- 1564, 2. FOIPA no.: 1386833. The FBI asset felt “confident that Allied Irish Bank would be a likely institution” for distribution of those funds to Ireland.
83. Wilson, “Irish America and the Ulster Conflict,” 201. 84. Sinn Féin Report , Overview,” 4–5. 85. Embassy Report , “Summary by Ambassador,” 3. Donlon noted that the main centers of Noraid activity in 1980 “were New York city units), elsewhere in New York state and New Jersey (7 units), Massachusetts (5 units), Pennsylvania (3 units), Connecticut (3 units), California (4 units), Chicago (1 unit), Baltimore (1 unit) and Cleveland (2 units).”
86. Hanley, “The Politics of Noraid,” 6.
87. Embassy Report , “Consulate General, New York,” 7.
88. Ibid., “Consulate
General, Chicago,” 3.
89. Holland, The American Connection , 257.
90. Sinn Féin Report , “Ancient Order of Hibernians

in America, Inc.,” 6.
91. Sinn Féin Report , “Appendices,” Peter King. 2.
92. Peter King, Ireland House Oral History Collection , (AIA. 030), 37. The Irish Civil War (1922–1923) divided those who supported the treaty with Britain establishing a Free State for twenty- six of Ireland’s thirty- two counties from the anti- treaty forces who wanted a completely independent Irish republic. The victory by Free State forces resulted in wide- spread loss of life, with many embittered anti- treaty combatants emigrating to the United States, including Michael Flannery (later Noraid leader) and Mike Quill (later leader of the Transit Workers Union).
93. Ibid.
94. Peter King, Ireland House Oral History Collection
95. Sinn Féin Report , “New York, Peter King,” 1.
96.    Danielle Zach, quoting John Ridge, Diaspora Movements, The Irish American (Dis) connection and the NI Troubles (PhD diss., City University of New York, 2013), 253.

97.     Ibid.
98.     Ibid., “The Ancient Order of Hibernians,” 6.
99.     Ibid., 6.
100.   Embassy Report , Summary by Ambassador,3.
101.   Sinn Féin Report , “Irish National Caucus,” 1.
102.   Seán McManus, a Redemptorist priest from Northern Ireland and brother of former MP Frank McManus and Patrick McManus, an IRA member killed in 1958.
103.    Holland, The American Connection , 248.
104. “Noraid at the Crossroads,” Irish Voice , October 14, 1989.
105. Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster Conflict , 280–81. The name Friends of Irish Freedom came from an older organization founded in New York to support Irish indepen- dence. It was founded in 1916 and was wound up in 1935.
106.    “No Split in Noraid,” Irish People , September 9, 1989.
107. INA [Noraid] National Executive Statement, The Irish People , October 7, 1989.
108. U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “Irish Northern Aid Committee,” New York Office, October 22, 1990, 1; file no: NY 199F- 1564, FOIPA no.: 1386833.
109.    Moloney, “Sinn Féin’s Secret 1988 Report on Noraid, 7.
110. Herbert J. Gans, “The End of Late- Generation European Ethnicity in America?” Ethnic and Racial Studies 38, no. 3 (2015): 423.
111.    Kathleen Neils Conzen, David A. Gerber, Ewa Morawska, George E. Pozzetta, Rudolph J. Vecoli, “The Invention of Ethnicity: A perspective from the U.S.A.,” Journal of American Ethnic History 12, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 32.
112.    Kevin Kenny, “Diaspora and Comparison: The Global Irish as a Case Study,” The Journal of American History 90, no. 1 (June 2003): 147.
113.    Martin Mansergh, former advisor to Fianna Fail Taoisigh (Prime Ministers) Charles Haughey and Bertie Ahearn, speaking at international symposium, University of Rennes, September 16, 1995, quoted in Eamonn Mallie and David> McKittrick, The Fight for Peace (London: Heinemann, 1996), 88–89.
114.    Gal Beckerman, “American Jews Face a Choice: Create Meaning or Fade Away,” New York Times Book Review, November 12, 2018.

Journal of American Ethnic History
Winter 2020 VOLUME 39, NUMBER 2