To INA members and all friends of justice

A letter from Mr. Paul Doris, Chairperson of the Irish Northern Aid Committee, The Irish People, 15 February 1995

The relatives and friends of the hundreds of Irish political prisoners have specifically asked the Irish Northern Aid Committee and those individuals and groups in America and elsewhere who value democracy, peace and justice to support them in their struggle for the release of their family members and loved ones.

For INA, the welfare and support of Irish Political Prisoners of War and their families are the primary reason we exist.

Their unconditional release is a prerequisite for a lasting peace and must be put firmly on the peace process agenda. World history tells us that unless the prisoners issue is taken care of in a positive way, continuous conflict, death and further imprisonment will result.

SAOIRE in Ireland and the US

The SAOIRSE campaign in Ireland is a grass-roots people's movement. Its organization and influence is growing daily as its message spreads and its singular demand-the unconditional release of all political prisoners-is made clear to the British and Irish authorities and more importantly to the people of Ireland.

In the United States, we have almost unlimited possibilities to move the demand for the release of the political prisoners forward, from fundraising for the prisoners' families, to political pressure, to protest actions, to education, to whatever special opportunities present themselves locally.

The American prisoners

As Americans, we also have a special responsibility and opportunity to support Irish political prisoners incarcerated here in the United States. Because each prisoner has his or her own individual legal situation and personal requirements, it will have to be left largely up to INA regional and local leadership to determine the appropriate level of activism. As an organization, however, Irish Northern Aid can and should speak out against the special, unjust treatment of men and women whose crimes were clearly motivated and directly connected to the political conflict in Ireland. Because US internal legal policy has taken on pro-British foreign policy overtones against Irish nationalism, we must include this policy and these injustices in our SAOIRSE efforts.

Annual General Meeting to establish US campaign

Pat McGeown, himself an ex-Long Kesh prisoner and a 1981 hunger-striker, is the Republican Movement's contact person with Saoirse in Ireland and will be the contact person as well. Arrangements are being made for Pat to attend the Irish Northern Aid Annual Conference and General Meeting in New York City over the first weekend in March (call the INA National Office, (212)736-1916, for AGM details) to help develop the SAOIRSE campaign and its national and regional working committees. We hope that the individuals and family members of some of the American prisoners, and those with cases pending that have political implications, will be in attendance to help to develop some of the practical aspects of the campaign.

A national campaign with regional emphasis

This campaign will be a national effort with regional emphasis. Gerry Coleman has been asked to take responsibility for launching the initial stages of Noraid's SAOIRSE campaign but not to run it by himself. The national coordinating committee that will be sharing the work and responsibility is regionally diverse: Pete Hagarty (San Francisco), Jack Kilroy (Midwest), Gerry Coleman (working out of the National office in New York), will be working closely together on all aspects of the campaign. Patsy Mulvey, INA's Prisoners Program Director, will also be helping to coordinate the SAOIRSE campaign on a national level.

Because only they know what works locally and have the proper working relationships within their communities, each INA regional director and each unit chairperson will have extraordinary responsibility and power to run with and guide this campaign.

There should be no member or officer of INA who is not involved with this campaign on one level or another. There should be no individual or group wishing to help in this campaign that should feel left out.

Everyone can play a role in the struggle for SAOIRSE (freedom) for the Irish people and the political prisoners. Please help us in this important work.

Saoirse Inquiry

The Irish Northern Aid Saoirse Campaign is working on a booklet that includes backgrounds, status, and contacts for all of the cases of Irish Republicans currently involved with the US justice system or INS.

We are looking for information and contacts for anyone who is currently involved in court proceedings, extradition, or deportation cases related to past involvement or alleged involvement with the Irish Republican movement. Please contact Francie Broderick, 6742 Chamberlain, St. Louis, MO 63130; phone, (314) 727-7119. By e-mail: FRANCIEMATT@DELPHI.COM