Gerry Adams, leader of the political arm of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, urged more than 40 million Americans of Irish ancestry Wednesday to use their cash and political clout to help persuade Britain to relinquish control of Northern Ireland.
Adams, president of Northern Ireland’s predominantly Roman Catholic Sinn Fein political party, appealed for Irish-Americans’ help as he and other Northern Ireland politicians gear up for peace talks set to resume in Belfast on Sept. 15.
The talks among Britain, Ireland and Protestant political parties resume after a 19-month break and are “a very defining and critical moment” in fitful efforts to end sectarian violence across Northern Ireland, Adams said.
The 3.6 million citizens of Ireland and the 1.6 million residents of Northern Ireland “need others throughout the world to help us, to help the British, to encourage both governments to make the necessary progress,” Adams told a news conference as the Sinn Fein negotiating team opened a six-day, four-city visit to the United States.
Irish Americans can help influence the British government “by encouraging the thinking of the Congress and the Senate and the White House here in the U.S.A.,” Adams said.
Adams suggested that Irish Americans model their efforts after African Americans’ successful campaign to foster democracy in South Africa and continuing efforts by American Jews on behalf of Israel.
Sinn Fein negotiators will enter talks with “a spirit of generosity” and a readiness to “compromise” in hopes of achieving a united Ireland “in our lifetime” without the “interference of the British government,” Adams said.