The role of the diaspora in Northern Ireland and mechanisms for engaging it in the transformation of the conflict

Masis Mayilian


It is an interesting exercise to explore the role of the diaspora during active phases of a conflict in its historical homeland and its contribution to peaceful resolution through the example of the Northern Ireland conflict. What role does the diaspora actually play? Is it a force that supports the peace process or is it a factor that impedes the peaceful resolution of the conflict?

It is generally believed that diaspora groups tend to hold more extreme views and pursue radical agendas. The writer Benedict Anderson coined the phrase “long-distance nationalism” to emphasise “the political irresponsibility of diaspora groups who dabble in the identity politics without paying the price of violent conflict that might result”. In his view, such groups “can fuel the tension and repeat the old platitudes intrinsic to established conflict positions”, but “put less effort into seeking a mutually acceptable peaceful solution”.[1]

William Safran is well known for his research on the phenomenon of the diaspora and developed a typology to differentiate between diaspora and emigré communities:

“The members of a diaspora, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from a specific original ‘centre’ to one or more ‘peripheral’, or foreign regions; they have retained a collective memory, vision or myth about their original homeland – its physical location, history and achievements; they believe that they are not – and cannot be – fully accepted by their ‘host’ society and therefore feel partly alienated and insulated from it; they regard their ancestral homeland as their true, ideal home and the place to which they or their descendants would (or should) eventually return, when conditions are appropriate; they believe that they should, collectively, be committed to the maintenance or restoration of their original homeland and to its safety and prosperity; they continue to relate, personally or through collective identity, to that homeland and their ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by the existence of such a relationship.”[2]

According to Valery Tishkov:

“The diasporas of today are powerful historical actors who can instigate and influence events of the highest order, such as wars, conflicts, the creation or dissolution of states and associated cultural production. Diasporas have meant politics and even geopolitics throughout the course of history and this is especially true today.”[3]

Tishkov believes that:

“Diasporas are united and preserved by nothing more than their cultural distinctiveness. A culture may disappear but the diaspora remains because, as a political project and a way of life, it has a specific mission distinct from ethnicity. It is a political mission of service, resistance, struggle and revenge. In an ethno-cultural sense, Irish Americans have long ceased to be any more Irish than the rest of the population of the US that comes together to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Yet in relation to political and other involvement in the situation in Ulster, they very clearly act as the Irish diaspora.”[4]

The example of the Northern Ireland conflict shows an effective mechanism for engaging the diaspora in peaceful transformation and for using its potential to bring an influential mediator (the US) into the peace process.

Reasons for the emergence of the Irish diaspora[5]

The historical reasons for migration have an important bearing on the framework within which contemporary diaspora organisations operate. There are large Irish communities in England and Scotland, as well as in Australia, Canada and a number of other countries. Many British citizens have Irish roots; they are the descendants of people who left Ireland to make a living and settle in Britain. Many of them have become assimilated. During the active phase of the conflict between 1969 and 1994, Irish people in Britain found themselves in a difficult position and were afraid to go out on the streets of some British towns, especially in the wake of bomb attacks by the IRA.[6]

The largest overseas Irish community is in the US and is estimated to be over seven times greater than the population of the Republic of Ireland (2010 data).[7] Irish Catholics began to emigrate to the US as early as the beginning of the 18th century, seeking refuge from persecution by the Protestant rulers of Britain. Irish Presbyterians also started to seek refuge overseas.[8] During this period, Protestant Ulster-Scots began to emigrate as well, arriving in North America, Australia and New Zealand.[9]

A significant influx of Irish people to the US was recorded at the beginning of the 18th century: in the century after 1820, five million Irish immigrants came to the US. The Irish made up almost half of all immigrants in the US in the 1840s and one third in the 1850s. These figures are remarkable given that the population of Ireland has never exceeded 8.5 million people. Today, according to some sources, around 44 million Americans believe they have Irish heritage.[10]

A seminal moment in Irish history was the Famine of the 1840s.

“Between 1846 and 1855, due to repeated massive failures of the potato crop [the most important local food crop], the Irish population declined by one-third.[11] More than 1 million people died of starvation and famine-related diseases and another 1.5 million fled to the United States. Many Irish immigrants believed the famine could have been avoided. ‘The almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight,’ the Irish nationalist and political exile John Mitchel wrote, ‘but the English created the famine.’ At the heart of Irish-American identity thereafter was a sense of banishment and exile.”[12]

The Irish Potato Famine or the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mór) had less of an impact in the northern part of Ireland,[13] where the population had a large proportion of English and Scottish migrants.

According to Northern Ireland Assembly member for Sinn Féin Pat Sheehan, ever since the British came to Ireland 800 years ago, there has been no end to the troubles on the island.[14] The historically difficult relationship between Britain and Ireland, which had tragic consequences for the Irish people and became the main reason for the emergence of the diaspora,[15] has to a great extent defined the attitudes and behaviour of the Irish immigrants and their descendants.

Past grievances served to radicalise the approach of the diaspora to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Conflict analyst Terrence Lyons believes that diasporas that come into existence in the wake of conflict and political processes in their homeland, where people are forced across borders by conflict or repression, form networks with “a specific set of traumatic memories and hence retain highly salient symbolic ties to the homeland”.[16] Traumatic memories can act as a mobilising force in collective identity.

Diaspora support for the conflicting sides

Vigorous support was provided to the republican movement in Northern Ireland by strong Irish diaspora organisations in the US. Kevin Kenny notes that:

“Initially the Irish emigrants were mostly unskilled, worked for low wages and were often used as substitute labour to break strikes … the Irish never encountered racism comparable to that inflicted on African Americans and Asians, who were excluded from citizenship or restricted from entering the United States.

Because they spoke English and were the first Catholic group to arrive in the United States in large numbers, the Irish quickly took control of the American Catholic Church. As a popular saying put it, the Church in the United States was, ‘One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic – and Irish’. Catholicism became the single most important ingredient of Irish-American identity. Turning their Catholic identity to their advantage and pursuing political opportunities unavailable in Ireland, the Irish moved steadily upward in American society.”[24]

Cochrane, Swain and Baser write that:

In the opinion of Olga Smirnova of the BBC:

“To employ contemporary terminology, these were ‘economic’ migrants, but they reached the top both in politics and in the military: there were 20 Irish generals in George Washington’s army … and Washington himself had ancestors who were immigrants from the Emerald Isle. Presidents Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton were all proud of their Irish ancestry.”[27]

Barack Obama is the 22nd US President with Irish ancestors. For American political and public figures, the existence of Irish roots is politically advantageous. In the opinion of historian John Robert Greene, the main reason for this love of Ireland is America’s Catholic electorate.[28]

The Irish diaspora’s interest in the Northern Ireland conflict has fluctuated and depends on the level of tension at the time between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland itself.[29] Irish diaspora organisations in the US have provided support to republicans who advocate Northern Ireland leaving the UK and becoming part of the Republic of Ireland. Some organisations provided financial assistance to the IRA, and it was donations from the US that facilitated the expansion of the IRA in the 1970s.[30]

Until recently, there were still Irish people living in the US who had taken part in the Irish War of Independence during the last century.

“And they saw it as their patriotic duty to help what they describe as the ‘guys from the IRA’. In answer to the question as to the difference between Al-Qaeda combatants and IRA combatants, they said that there was no resemblance whatsoever between them. They pointed out that there are no Irish suicide bombers and, in fact, they are not insurgents at all, but freedom fighters.”[31]

In January 2002 the US government ordered American financial institutions to freeze the assets of five Northern Irish groups).

“During the 1970s and 1980s, the latent interest in the conflict in Northern Ireland led to the formation of several Irish-American NGOs and a flow of money into militant republican groups within Northern Ireland. The Irish Northern Aid Committee (Noraid), formed in 1970, supported the aims and methods of republican paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. Between 1970 and 1991, Noraid officially remitted around 3.5 million US dollars to Ireland.”[32]

The funds were used by charitable organisations controlled by Sinn Féin to provide support to the families of Republican prisoners.[33] While this was not an enormous sum, this support was accompanied by vigorous international PR work for the republican cause. During the conflict in Northern Ireland, Noraid played the role expected of it by the section of the diaspora who, according to a number of writers (Benedict Anderson, Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler), were predisposed to fomenting militant violence and political radicalism in the homeland.[34]

US diaspora organisations provided both financial assistance and political support to republicans in Northern Ireland. During the conflict, Noraid was not the only organisation representing the Irish-American community.

“The Irish National Caucus (INC), formed in 1974, was a constant critic of British government policy in Northern Ireland, highlighting human rights violations carried out by the British security forces. The relative success of the INC as a Washington-based activist group illustrates the capacity of diaspora communities to play more of a role than simply fundraising.

The AOH and the INC took an active interest in the political conflict in Northern Ireland but emphasised non-violent methods.[35] Their central focus was on the discrimination against the Catholic nationalist community and perceived human rights abuses being carried out by the British government. At a more general level, these NGOs campaigned against the British presence in Ireland and lobbied for the political goal of Irish unity.

In the early 1970s, influential Irish-American politicians, such as Senator Edward Kennedy and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, frequently adopted public positions critical of the British government, which failed to offer options for resolving the problems which were attractive to US politicians policymakers.”[36]

In 1971 Senator Kennedy “introduced a Senate Resolution that called for a ‘united Ireland’ and the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland. In addition, the New York Congressman (and later Governor) Hugh Carey called the British army ‘thugs’’’.[37] Feargal Cochrane and his colleagues believe that: “These two examples demonstrate the ‘political temperature’ of the times. While interventions like these found little purchase in US policy circles, they were nevertheless an important source of political support for the Irish republican community in Northern Ireland.”[38]

The INC advanced a non-violent agenda and highlighted the labour discrimination that was one of the key issues of the political conflict and a source of grievance among Northern Ireland’s Catholic community. During the 1980s, the INC lobbied for the MacBride Principles.[39] These were designed to promote fair employment in Northern Ireland and specifically targeted US investment.

“Despite opposition to the MacBride Principles from unionists and the UK government, several states in the United States adopted them during the 1980s and passed legislation requiring US companies to comply. This forced the British government to bring forward new legislation of its own, in the form of the Fair Employment Act of 1989 and a Fair Employment Commission to tackle discrimination in Northern Ireland.”[40]

In 1992, during the presidential election campaign, Bill Clinton also expressed his support for the MacBride Principles.

The role of the Irish-American diaspora in engaging the US as a mediator in resolving the Northern Ireland conflict

Involving the US administration as a mediator in the Northern Ireland peace process was a key moment in the transformation of the conflict. An important role was played in this respect by the Irish diaspora organisations and the pro-Irish lobby in the US.

Nevertheless, the impetus that had led to the possibility of a peaceful transformation of the conflict came from Belfast. By 1994 the republicans and the unionists had announced a ceasefire. The two sides had lost more than 3,500 people by this point. The British army had reached the conclusion that it would not succeed in defeating the paramilitary groups, and the IRA had already realised that it would not be possible to create a united Ireland through the use of force. The conflicting sides had reached a state of what William Zartman describes as a “hurting stalemate”[41] and were now ready for talks to be initiated.

The founder and leader of the SDLP, John Hume, seized the moment and started talks with all the parties and groups representing the two sides.[42] Once it became clear that, owing to the position of the unionists, it was not going to be possible to find a solution from within Northern Ireland, the decision was taken to involve external actors in the negotiation process – in particular, Britain and the EU. However, the most important external sponsor was the US.

John Hume, who was a Member of the European Parliament between 1979 and 2004, worked actively to involve the EU in the resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict. He developed good relationships with a number of heads of European countries and leaders of socialist parties. In March 1982, with support from MEP colleagues, he managed to achieve the appointment of Niels Haagerup as European Parliament rapporteur on Northern Ireland.[43] The appointment of a rapporteur and the fact that Northern Ireland was being debated in the European Parliament provoked an angry reaction from the British Prime Minister at that time, Margaret Thatcher.[44] This meant that the issue of Northern Ireland was no longer an internal matter for Britain and facilitated the involvement of other external actors in the Northern Ireland process, particularly the US.

The involvement of the US administration in the Northern Ireland peace process went through several stages. As early as the 1970s John Hume had developed relationships of trust with American politicians of Irish descent and had influence with them.

“Together with Irish Ambassador to Washington, Seán Donlon, John Hume convinced the Irish-American elite of the importance of separating out constitutional nationalism, as represented by the SDLP and the Irish government, from the militant Irish republicanism of Sinn Féin and the IRA.”[45]

Hume and Donlon were able to convince American politicians that, by supporting achievable reformist objectives and by helping to reduce support for militant republicans in Northern Ireland, Irish America would have a better chance of changing British policy. This strategy was assisted by a moderate and well-networked NGO, the Friends of Ireland. It formed the basis for a connection between constitutional nationalism in Ireland, the Washington political elite and British policy in Northern Ireland.

A defining role in the shift of strategy by the Irish diaspora in the US was played by the Republic of Ireland government, which held regular meetings with active representatives of the diaspora. In addition, work to this end with diaspora groups was undertaken every year when Irish ministers travelled to the US for St Patrick’s Day.[46]

“Networks such as the Friends of Ireland were an important ingredient in the political evolution of Northern Ireland and subsequent reforms such as the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. Through close cooperation with the SDLP and Irish government, the Friends of Ireland played an important role in the Anglo-Irish Agreement.”[47]

It should be noted that the governments of the countries that were signatories to the Agreement had compelling reasons for concluding this agreement.[48] “Pressure and influence from these Irish-American political leaders was, at certain stages, an integral factor in bringing the Agreement to fruition.”[49]

“On the day the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed, Ronald Reagan and [Speaker of the US Congress House of Representatives] Tip O’Neill held a press reception in the Oval Office. They praised the signing of the [agreement between Ireland and Britain and promised] that the United States would provide financial aid to the embryonic International Fund for Ireland (IFI).”[50]

This step demonstrated the central role played by the Irish diaspora – and the ensuing work of the IFI, as an economic clearinghouse – in delivering ‘peace dividends’ during the course of the negotiating process in the 1990s. Irish lobbying in the US essentially attained a new level and the work of the IFI received lavish financial support from the administration.[51] According to the Irish Consul General in New York, Niall Burgess:

“Something happened with the US engagement in Ireland around the mid-1980s. This change in the mindset of elite actors within the Irish Diaspora led directly to the next phase of [US] involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process.”[52]

In the 1990s the diaspora organisation Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA) played a significant role in the political process around Northern Ireland. Established in 1992, ANIA worked with Bill Clinton, informing him about the political situation in Northern Ireland before he was elected president.

“ANIA was a coalition of influential Irish-Americans including journalists, lawyers, labour and corporate business leaders. [This potent and well-funded organisation became a mouthpiece of Irish-American opinion. It was] geared towards constitutional nationalism, concerned that Washington should abandon the traditional non-involvement, and also prepared to woo moderate loyalists. [ANIA] focused on process, rather than outcome, and presented Clinton with practical policy options rather than a platform that would embarrass the [British] government.”[53]

Adrian Guelke notes that ANIA moved away from the traditional demands of the diaspora for a united Ireland and highlighted the need for conflict resolution and peacebuilding.[54] As Cochrane et al write:

This was not the sort of ‘long-distance nationalism’ Benedict Anderson had warned of, but rather pragmatic thinking designed to engage with the [Clinton Administration] rather than confront it.

This [new] strategy paid dividends when ANIA helped secure Clinton’s decision to grant a 48-hour visa for Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams to attend a conference on Northern Ireland in the United States.”[55]

This was before the IRA ceasefire[56] (August 1994) and went against advice from the State Department, the Department of Justice and the CIA, provoking an angry reaction from the British government.

The Irish-American diaspora played a critical role in interceding between militant Irish republicanism and the [administration of Bill Clinton], and without this intervention, the Northern Ireland peace process would have been much more problematic.”[57]

William Hazleton suggests ANIA played a vital role in US engagement in the Northern Ireland peace process during the 1990s.

“Credit for bringing Northern Ireland to Clinton’s attention and for securing his subsequent involvement belongs to a number of individuals, including Niall O’Dowd, publisher of the Irish Voice, former Congressman, Bruce Morrison, corporate executives, Chuck Feeney and William Flynn, and labour boss, Joe Jameson, who represent a new generation of Irish-American power brokers.”[58]

The new generation was much closer to the IRA, which made the ANIA coalition more interesting in the eyes of the US Administration. The organisation’s members played an even more important role in changing the IRA’s position. According to Clem McCartney, this was one of the fundamental factors that led to the ceasefire and subsequent talks. These people were able to influence the mindset of the IRA because until then they had supported its aims and enjoyed its trust, and it believed they were acting in its interests. Once the IRA had changed its position, the coalition was able to pass on this information to the White House.[59]

Chuck Feeney, a prominent businessman and founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies organisation, maintained links with Irish paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland through a group of Irish-American business leaders. Feeney also had contacts with the US State Department. This conduit of informal contacts and positive influence on the process in Northern Ireland persisted until Senator George Mitchell was appointed as US Special Envoy of the President and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 1995.[60] The establishment of Mitchell’s mediation mission superseded the need for this sort of informal activity. Senator Mitchell was in favour of engaging a larger number of actors in the negotiating process, subject to their compliance with the principles he had developed.

Diasporas can thus be engaged in processes in their homeland in ways that are very similar to the activities of peacebuilding organisations.

“Diaspora organisations can demonstrate their positive potential, which is often ignored by those [who see destructive origins in it]. Irish-America actively sought to engage with militant Irish republicanism in order to convince it to adopt a peaceful democratic agenda.It did this through direct political dialogue with Sinn Féin and by opening up avenues of communication between Irish republicans and the Clinton administration, which played a major part in the choreography of the peace process in the 1990s.”[61]

As George Mitchell recounts:

“Clinton subsequently pushed Northern Ireland to the top of the US foreign policy agenda and became personally involved in the multiparty talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement (or Belfast Agreement) in April 1998.”[62]

Thus, Clinton fulfilled his pre-election promise made to the Irish diaspora in New York in April 1992 during the primaries.[63]


The involvement of diaspora organisations in transforming the conflict – work within both communities in Northern Ireland

While some organisations facilitated the escalation of the Northern Ireland conflict, other sections of the diaspora made a significant contribution to forging peace.

On the whole, until the 1990s, the population of Northern Ireland had a negative perception of the role of the diaspora. However, once it changed tactics and decided to pursue its objectives through non-violent means, attitudes towards it improved.[64]

“As a rule, [little] attention tends to be given to the financial assistance provided by Diaspora groups for non-violent objectives. In the Northern Ireland case, many more US dollars have been donated for peace than have ever been given for violent purposes. As an example, the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), established by the British and Irish governments in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, obtains a significant share of its funding from the United States [and other countries with large Irish populations]. The IFI focuses on cross-community development and reconciliation projects in both parts of Ireland, giving priority to initiatives that encourage cross-border co-operation.”[65]

Since it was set up, the IFI has committed around €890 million to the implementation of 5,800 projects.[66] In the words of Feargal Cochrane and his colleagues: “This dwarfs the financial power of Noraid and other radical Irish-American groups … this was … a product of those within the Irish Diaspora who lobbied the US administration to help develop an economic ‘peace dividend’ in Northern Ireland.”[67]

Significant financial support for peacebuilding projects in Northern Ireland has come from the aforementioned Atlantic Philanthropies.[68] Its founder, Chuck Feeney, was part of a new wave of Irish-American lobbyists who focused on US engagement in the process of conflict resolution.

The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation has provided assistance to nine universities, supported the alternative, shared education system in Northern Ireland (schools where children from both Catholic and Protestant families learn together), tackled the problems faced by former political prisoners (finding employment, political education and upgrading skills), funded projects in the third sector, including in human rights, and supported informal diplomatic links. Atlantic Philanthropies has also funded trips by politicians to former conflict zones and has invested in further professional development, with political training for local politicians.[69] In addition, support has been made available for projects that provide training for people delivering public services in the divided neighbourhoods of Belfast and other areas. Among the activists, there were many criminal elements who also engaged in violence while they were delivering public services, so it was important to engage them in education programmes. As Paul Murray highlights, those who are involved in violence must be given alternatives.[70] Through its Reconciliation and Human Rights programme alone, Atlantic Philanthropies awarded grants worth over US$15 million to Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2013.[71]

“[The activities] of corporate Irish-America provided an example of how a Diaspora’s financial capital could be used to build peace rather than fuel violence.”[72]



This study of the diaspora’s role in the Northern Ireland conflict and mechanisms for engaging it in the transformation of the conflict has shown the following:

  • Diasporas, as powerful contemporary actors, can both support and hinder the peace process in their historical homeland. The Northern Ireland conflict illustrates the negative and positive potential that can be used by the diaspora to influence the peace process.
  • The historical reasons behind the migration of populations are an important factor in how contemporary diaspora organisations operate. The historically complex relations between Britain and Ireland were the principal cause of the emergence of the Irish diaspora and largely defined the attitudes of Irish emigrants and their descendants.
  • As a rule, the position taken by the diaspora is always more rigid than that of the society in conflict. Past grievances radicalise the attitudes of the diaspora to the conflict in their homeland and traumatic memories are a mobilising force in collective identity.
  • Diaspora organisations can provide powerful political support as well as financial assistance.
  • Diasporas are not static communities and can demonstrate flexibility as well as react appropriately to new situations.
  • The reasoned position of politicians from Ireland changed the approaches and strategy of the American diaspora in relation to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The new strategy created an opportunity for the US to be involved in the peace process.
  • The engagement of the US administration as a mediator in the Northern Ireland peace process was a key moment in the conflict’s transformation. An important role was played in this by the Irish diaspora organisations and the pro-Irish lobby in the US.
  • Irish-America reached out to militant Irish republicans to persuade them to take on a peaceful democratic agenda. This inclusive approach contributed significantly to the peace process during the 1990s.
  • The actions of the Irish-American diaspora were critical to the success of the peace process. In particular, the diaspora’s mediation between militant Irish republicans and Bill Clinton’s administration played a crucial role.
  • Until the 1990s, the population of Northern Ireland had a negative perception of the role of the diaspora. However, once it changed tactics and decided to pursue its objectives through non-violent means, attitudes towards the diaspora improved.
  • Diasporas can be engaged in processes in their homeland in ways that are very similar to the activities of peacebuilding organisations.
  • In the case of Northern Ireland, much more money was donated for peace than for violent purposes.
  • In the Northern Ireland conflict, representatives of the Irish diaspora in the US found a mechanism for working with both communities engaged in the conflict.
  • The nature of the engagement of corporate Irish-America shows how a diaspora’s financial capital can contribute to building peace as opposed to fuelling violence.



[1] B. Anderson (1992). ‘The new world disorder’, New Left Review, 193, p. 13.

[2] W. Safran (1991). ‘Diasporas in modern societies: Myths of homeland and return’, in K. Tololyan (ed.) Diaspora,1, pp. 83–99.

[3] V. Tishkov (2000) ‘Mekhanizm i dinamika diaspory’ [‘The mechanism and dynamics of the diaspora’], available in Russian at

[4] Ibid.

[5] The term ‘Irish diaspora’ refers predominantly to the Irish community in the US. The Irish-American community, as the largest and most influential group, played a key role in transforming the conflict in Northern Ireland. The mechanism for engaging the Irish diaspora in the peace process forms the focus of this paper.

[6] Interview, former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, 24 June 2013, Dublin.

[7] Data from the US Department of Commerce, US Census Bureau, available at

[8] O. Smirnova (2002).‘SSHA–Irlandiia: nasledie i spory’ [‘USA–Ireland: heritage and disagreements’], BBC News, 13 March 2002, available in Russian at

[9] Online interview, Clem McCartney, independent consultant on conflict and community issues in Northern Ireland, 10 November 2013.

[10] I. Titova (2013). ‘Zachem amerikanskim prezidentam irlandskie korni’ [‘Why American presidents have Irish roots’], Moskovskie Novosti, available in Russian at

[11] The crops failed in the years 1845–48 (interview, Clem McCartney).

[12] K. Kenny (2008). ‘Irish Immigrants in the United States’, in Immigrants Joining the Mainstream, US Department of State, eJournalUSA, February 2008/Volume 13, No. 2, available at

[13] Interview, RobFairmichael, Community Faiths’ Forum, 22 June 2013, Belfast.

[14] Interview, Pat Sheehan, 25 June 2013, Stormont, Belfast.

[15] The Famine was indirectly responsible but, even disregarding it, Ireland was an overpopulated country of impoverished peasants and in such circumstances members of peasant communities tend to migrate (interview, Clem McCartney).

[16] T. Lyons (2007). ‘Diasporas and transnational politics in Ethiopia’, in Diasporas, Armed Conflicts and Peacebuilding in their Homelands, Uppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research Report, No. 79, p. 32. See also: T. Lyons (2004). ‘Diasporas and homeland conflict’, Paper presented to the DC Area Workshop on Contentious Politics, available at

[17] A.J. Wilson (2000). ‘The Billy Boys meet Slick Willy: The Ulster Unionist Party and the American dimension to the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 1994–9’, Irish Studies in International Affairs, Volume 11, pp. 121–36.

[18] Interview, Clem McCartney.

[19] In 1985, despite the tense situation, Margaret Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, in which, for the first time in history, the British government gave the Irish Republic a consultative role in the government of Northern Ireland. The signing of the Agreement sparked sharp criticism from unionists, who predominantly represented the interests of the Protestant population and advocated in favour of Ulster remaining within the UK and against the involvement of Ireland in Northern Ireland’s affairs. According to Clem McCartney, republicans were also unhappy with the 1985 Agreement, since it indicated that they did not have the support of the Irish government.

[20] Interview, author and journalist Deaglán de Bréadún, 24 June 2013, Dublin.

[21] M. O’Doherty (2013). ‘Piece by peace’, Belfast Telegraph, 11 June 2013.

[22] Interview, ClaireHackett, 27 June 2013, Belfast.

[23] Interview, Clem McCartney.

[24] K. Kenny (2008). Op. cit.

[25] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain, ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad: The Variable Impacts of Diasporas on Peace-Building’, available at . p. 7.

[26] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.

[27] O. Smirnova (2002).Op. cit.

[28] T. Geoghegan (2011). ‘Why are US presidents so keen to be Irish?’, BBC News, 26 April 2011, available at

[29] Interview, ClaireHackett, 27 June 2013, Belfast.

[30] ‘Irlandiia – Kolumbiia – dalee vezde?’ [‘Ireland – Colombia – tomorrow the world?’], BBC News, 15 August 2001, available in Russian at

[31] O. Smirnova (2002).Op. cit.

[32] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 689.

[33] A. Guelke (1998). ‘Northern Ireland: International and North/South issues’, in W. Crotty and D. Schmitt (eds.) Ireland and the Politics of Change. London: Longman. p. 203.

[34] P. Collier and A. Hoeffler (2004). ‘Greed and grievance in civil war’, Oxford Economic Papers,56(4), pp. 563–95.

[36] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.p. 692.

[37] R. Finnegan (2002). ‘Irish-American relations’, in W. Crotty and D. Schmitt (eds.) Ireland on the World Stage. London: Pearson. p. 99.

[38] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 692.

[39] Seán MacBride (1904–88) was an Irish public and political figure, lawyer and expert in international affairs. He was also a founder (1946) and leader of the Irish Republican Party, Clann na Plobachta. From 1948 to 1951 MacBride was Minister for Foreign Affairs, and between 1974 and 1976 he served as United Nations Commissioner for Namibia. In 1974 MacBride was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

[40] A. Guelke (1998). Op. cit. p. 204.

[41] W. Zartman (2001). ‘Negotiating internal conflict: Incentives and intractability’, International Negotiation, Volume 6, No. 3, p. 298.

[42] Interview, like-minded colleagues of John Hume, SeánFarren and Denis Haughey, 27 June 2013, Belfast.

[43] N.J. Haagerup (1984). ‘Report drawn up on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee on the situation in Northern Ireland’, European Parliament Working Documents 1-1526/83, 19 March 1984.

[44] Interview, Seán Farren and Denis Haughey.

[45] R.J. Briand (2002). ‘Bush, Clinton, Irish America and the Irish Peace Process’, Political Quarterly, Volume 73, No. 4, April–June 2002, p. 174.

[46] Interview, former Taoiseach of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, 24 June 2013, Dublin.

[47] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op cit. p. 692.

[49] A.J. Wilson (1995). ‘The Congressional Friends of Ireland and the Anglo-Irish Agreement’, in Irish-America and the Ulster Conflict 1968–1995, Chapter 9, available at

[50] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.p. 692.

[51] Clem McCartney believes that the most significant factor in lobbying reaching a higher level was probably the ability of lobbying groups to convey to the US administration the idea that they had won over the combatants, who might therefore be persuaded to declare a ceasefire, and that this could easily be achieved if the administration could somehow provide the combatants with some encouragement. Their success was possible because of the involvement of new individuals who had good relations with Irish republicans. This illustrates the fact that lobbying groups have the greatest influence when their interests coincide with those of the government they are lobbying.

[52] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.pp. 692–3.

[53] Ibid.

[54] A. Guelke (2002). ‘Northern Ireland and the international system’, in W. Crotty and D. Schmitt (eds.) Ireland on the World Stage. London: Pearson. p. 136.

[55] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 694.

[56] Following the announcement of the IRA ceasefire, Clinton granted Adams another visa in March 1995 to attend St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US and to conduct fundraising activities for Sinn Féin.

[57] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.

[58] W. Hazleton (2000). ‘Encouragement from the sidelines: Clinton’s role in the Good Friday Agreement’, Irish Studies in International Affairs, 11, p. 104.

[59] Interview, Clem McCartney.

[60] Interview, Paul Murray, Atlantic Philanthropies, 26 June 2013, Belfast.

[61] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit.

[62] G. Mitchell (1999). Making Peace. London: Heinemann. p. 178.

[63]C. O’Clery (1995). ‘Clinton’s journey to Lower Falls began with pledge in New York’, The Irish Times, 27 November 1995.

[64] Interview, Paul Murray, 26 June 2013, Belfast.

[65] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 689.

[66] IFI official website:

[67] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 689.

[68] Atlantic Philanthropies – Northern Ireland programme:

[69] Interview, RobFairmichael, 22 June 2013, Belfast.

[70] Interview, Paul Murray, 26 June 2013, Belfast.

[71] Atlantic Philanthropies – Reconciliation and Human Rights programme:

[72] F. Cochrane, B. Baser and A. Swain (2009). Op. cit. p. 689.


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