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Diaspora must be part of Constitutional Convention – Adams

19 March, 2012 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD is in Washington to attend St. Patrick’s Day events including the Speakers’ Lunch and the White House St. Patrick’s Day reception. Mr. Adams will also hold a series of meetings with congressional leaders including the Friends of Ireland Group and with Senator Patrick Leahy and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

The Sinn Féin leader today spoke at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Friends of Sinn Féin lunch in DC which was attended by senior Trade Union leaders.

This year ten current and former presidents and secretary treasurers of the biggest unions in the USA were present.

These included: Terry O Sullivan, president of the Labours International Union of North America; James Hoffa, president of the teamsters union; Robert Scardelletti, national president of the Transport and Communications Union; Kinsey Robinson, president of the Roofers Union; Sean McGarvey, secretary treasurer of BCT; A.L. Monroe retired president of the Painters Union; Barbara Easterling, retired Secretary-General of the Communication Workers of America; John Flynn, retired president of the Bricklayers Union; John Hegarty national president of the Postal Mail Handlers Union; and Larry Hanley, national president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Speaking at the event the Sinn Féin leader urged Irish American leaders, including Labour leaders, to raise with the Irish government their participation in the planned Constitutional Convention.

Teachta Adams said:

“Last week the government acknowledged that voting rights for emigrants in presidential elections will be on the agenda for the Constitutional Convention.

“While this is a welcome development it doesn’t go far enough. The diaspora, especially Irish America, has played a crucial role in encouraging the peace process and in bringing jobs to the island of Ireland.

“The government has consciously sought to reach out to the global Irish through a number of initiatives and the Taoiseach has been in the USA several times in recent months seeking to woo business leaders to invest in the state.

“The global Irish want to support Ireland. The Irish government should go beyond platitudes and reciprocate the diaspora’s desire to help by connecting it back into Ireland in a practical way through, for example, the extension of presidential voting rights to passport holders.

“I have raised this matter on a number of occasions directly with the Taoiseach in the Dáil and in our recent conversations on the Constitutional Convention.

“It is also sensible that any extension of president voting rights should extend to citizens living in the north.”  

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