20 February 1997 Edition

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Keane addresses US Naval Academy

By Mick Naughton

Addressing a packed audience of former and serving US naval officers Sinn Féin's US representative Mairead Keane spoke of the need for Irish American organisations to give their full support to peacemakers in Ireland as they strive to rebuild the peace process wrecked by the British.

Keane, a guest of the Commodore John Barry Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, was speaking last Wednesday evening 12 February at the US naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

``Our two countries are bound together by emigration and immigration, particularly over the past two hundred years,'' Keane said, ``and in recent times the US has played a vital role in creating the opportunity for peace that existed in Ireland in 1994. That peace process collapsed this time last year after Britain refused to begin peace talks, despite the unilateral IRA cessation which lasted 18 months.

``Now British government policy on Ireland is aimlessly drifting along from day to day, they have no coherent plan to restore a credible peace process despite this being the wishes of most people in Ireland and Britain.

``Two weeks ago during his State of the Union Address President Clinton said that Americans must continue to take risks for peace, be it in the Middle East or Northern Ireland. John Major should take a leaf out of the President's book and create a credible peace process,'' concluded Keane.

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