The editorial about Northern Ireland and Irish Northern Aid (Noraid), was confused. Having once shared those convictions, I understand how they originate: with the British government's disinformation campaign.
When I began writing about the conflict in 1985, British officials were quick to inform me that Noraid members were just "sentimental." In fact, I found Noraid members considerably better informed than their critics and that it is the Irish political establishment which romanticizes the War of Independence (which was more ruthless than today's revolt).
The British also claimed that Noraid was funding the IRA. When I asked for evidence and investigated what I was given, I discovered there was not a shred of proof to support the assertion. There is a very simple reason why Noraid has never given a penny to the IRA: It is unable to raise more than a fraction for the needs of the families of prisoners of war.
The only ones hurt by editorials calling for the defunding of Noraid are the prisoners' families, since the group's critics do not provide this aid (even though they know that many prisoners are innocent victims of a perverse legal system). Nor is Noraid registered with the Justice Department as an "agent of the IRA": This judgment was reversed on appeal because it lacked any supporting evidence.
This does not mean individual Americans do not contribute to the IRA, but a statement in Parliament by a former director of British intelligence indicated that the amount of money from the U.S. is negligible (most coming from the Irish in Britain whose political outlets are suppressed). The editorial sanctimoniously invoked the images of democracy, rule of law and the value of human life to condemn those supporting the insurrection in Northern Ireland but these same words were used by the political establishment, clergy and media to condemn the IRA of the 1920s.
The compromises starting with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 have only perpetuated the tragic illusion of "peace in our time."
SCOTT S. SMITH