18 December 2008 Edition

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Sinn Féin's Friends in America

BY Rita O’Hare

“DONATIONS increased by an impressive £195,000 due almost entirely to the magnificent work of Friends of Sinn Féin USA”.
These words were recorded in Sinn Féin’s accounts for 2007 in the Six Counties.
We have benefited hugely from the support we continue to receive from Irish Americans all across the United States. They have helped us build Sinn Féin into a political force which has changed the course of Irish history and brought us closer to our goal of independence and unity. That is what we in Sinn Féin share with Irish America, the vision of a united, independent Ireland where the Irish people are in control of our own destiny and capable of “cherishing all the children of the nation equally.”
The commitment of our supporters in the US is demonstrated many times over and in many ways – by donations through Friends of Sinn Féin and by the attention and interest that is still so evident there.
At a recent Friends of Sinn Féin event in San Francisco, the head of the FOSF support group Ciarán Scally thanked and commended the people who had helped organise and support the event and continued with words that struck me as epitomising the calibre and commitment of Irish America and the common bonds we share whether recent immigrants or born from second, third or fourth generation.
These are Scally’s words:
“At political fundraisers we thank people for their generosity; we thank the sponsors, the committee, and ourselves for attending. We thank the people for putting up posters, for selling tickets, doing the mail-out, manning the phones, doing the emails, all the people who generously either give their time and/or donations to make an event a successful one.
“Sometimes though in the midst of all the shaking of hands and giving ourselves slaps on the back, we forget who really are the generous ones.
“Most of us here left Ireland in years gone by. We left a country economically depressed, no jobs, no money, and no future. Those of us from the Six Counties, well we weren’t going to get a job anyway, because we were from the nationalist community.
“We left to build a better future for ourselves and for our children. But when we left we left behind a people and a country in turmoil.
“For those who stayed that were involved in trying to right the wrongs, the inequities, the discrimination, expose the torture, death squads, the repression, harassment – for them Ireland was a bleak place; it was a long way from sunny California.
“But they stayed. They stayed and pursued their ideals, the same ideals that many generations of our forefathers have strived for. These people are the generous ones.
“While we pursued our careers, and built our business here in California, Irish republicans went to jail, were murdered, or lived lives of constant harassment by British state forces. This commitment surpasses what we normally associate with generosity. This was sacrifice, and sacrifice for what? There was no fame or fortunes to be had. These high prices were paid so that future generations could escape the inequalities and the immoral occupation that our country has endured by a foreign government.
“It is our honour to have the representative of this group of generous, unselfish, people with us here this evening, and to acknowledge the loss of careers that could have been, and futures that they could have had, had they been born into a normal society.
“I ask you to think back to what Ireland was like when we left and remember that the only thing that stands between where we are at now and returning to the dark old days and the days of the Orange state is Sinn Féin.
So let us all show our generosity as a people, and lets give Sinn Féin the resources to get this job done and to break the shackles of colonialism once and for all.
“ Go raibh maith agaibh go léir”

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