The Macbride Principles

The Macbride Principles: Irish America Strikes Back

Kevin McNamara
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Macbride Principles
    Book Description:

    Published in November 1984, The MacBride Principles contained nine affirmative action proposals aimed at eliminating religious discrimination in the employment practices of United States corporations with subsidiaries in Northern Ireland. The weapon used by the MacBride campaigners was the federal constitution of the United States. States and cities in the Union could pass their own corporate legislation incorporating the MacBride Principles and use their pension fund investments to table shareholder resolutions seeking the Principles’ inclusion in employment policies. Later developments saw their application to US and foreign firms supplying goods and services to states and cities. Using devolved legislation, the MacBride Campaign broke the stranglehold on the discussion of Irish issues maintained by the US, UK and Irish governments in the Congress. It was debated in state legislatures and city councils. Irish-America was motivated to participate in a nonviolent campaign to achieve social justice in Northern Ireland. Supported by the United States government, there was a fierce reaction by the British government to the Principles. Its attempts to suppress them were unsuccessful. Using interviews with key personalities involved and hitherto unpublished and inaccessible archives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin, and papers obtained using the Freedom of Information Acts of the United States the United Kingdom, the evolution of the McBride Campaign is mapped out in full by Kevin McNamara, who brings particular insight through is role as a British Member of Parliament and former Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-589-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Irish-americans have, since the great emigration following the Famine, sought to influence successive United States administrations and Congress, to persuade them to intervene in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom and support those in Ireland seeking to obtain Home Rule and (eventually) independence for Ireland. They were singularly unsuccessful until well into the second decade of the undeclared civil war in Ireland.³ A decision was taken to open new fronts on the battlefield away from the trenches surrounding the Congress and the White House – the Washington ‘Beltway’ – to the cities and states of the nation. The weapon to be...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Origin of the MacBride Principles
    (pp. 13-31)

    Fr Sean McManus, the President of the Irish National Caucus (INC), stated that the MacBride Principles ‘were “conceived” in August 1979; “born” in June 1983; and “christened” in November 1984’.³ It was not quite so simple. These were three significant dates, but there was a long history of endeavour by many others. Holland wrote that the origins of the INC are much disputed, but that it seems to have become active in 1974 with the ‘aim of lobbying on behalf of Irish unity’.

    Among those involved in its formation were Flannery, the founding father of the Irish Northern Aid Committee;⁴...

  7. CHAPTER TWO MacBride and the Campaign after the Publication of the Principles
    (pp. 32-83)

    After the publication of the MacBride Principles, there was a flurry of campaigning activity. Councillor Sal Albanese was quick off the mark to announce the introduction of a wide-ranging bill for New York City Council to implement the MacBride Principles on 3 January, but he was well behind Sr Regina, who had been strongly involved with Doherty in the preparation of the campaign. Three days after the Washington launch of the Principles, on 7 November, she gave all the members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) a three-part plan of action. It entailed writing to companies asking them...

  8. CHAPTER THREE MacBride and the British Government
    (pp. 84-128)

    ‘I do not think there is any discrimination against Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. The record of successive British governments has been completely honourable in Northern Ireland, and one of which we can be justly proud’, claimed Secretary of State James Prior on 24 May 1984.² He was replying to a question asked of him by a Catholic Conservative MP, David Atkinson, concerning allegations of continuing discrimination against Roman Catholics in the report of theNew Ireland Forum, recently published by the Irish government.³ Given the accumulating evidence to the contrary, Prior was in a state of denial. As Secretary...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR MacBride and the Irish Government
    (pp. 129-164)

    The publication of the MacBride Principles immediately created difficulties for the Irish government. The spirit of the Principles presented no problem. Some Irish politicians might have drafted them differently, but their actual purpose – to put an end to the exercise of religious discrimination in employment practices by US-owned firms operating in Northern Ireland – no Irish government could repudiate, even if it did not actively endorse and support their implementation. This dilemma caused the British to be suspicious of the Irish government’s motives.

    It is no use relying on our Irish colleagues to act as our stalking-horse. They have, indeed, been...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE MacBride and the British Labour Party
    (pp. 165-189)

    The brightest jewel among the few MacBride supporters in the British Isles was the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Archer.² He had quietly repositioned the Labour Party following the adoption of its unity-by-consent policy. He had inherited an unfortunate legacy from the Mason period (the last Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) and Concannon’s unhappy visit as Shadow Secretary of State to the dying Bobby Sands.⁴ Archer said of his relations with MacBride: ‘we were very good friends … we were together at the very beginning of Amnesty and we have remained friends ever since’.⁵ They...

  11. CHAPTER SIX MacBride, the SDLP and Sinn Féin
    (pp. 190-205)

    The MacBride Principles generated not only considerable hostility but also, very flatteringly, imitation. Four different and rival sets of principles were produced, but only three were published.³ The attitude of the SDLP’s membership to the publication of the MacBride Principles was ambivalent. At its Derry conference, Dick Spring, the Tánaiste, condemned them. Among the rank and file of SDLP members the situation was far more fluid. An eloquent and influential Belfast councillor, Brian Feeney, had welcomed Goldin’s American Brands initiative. He was a councillor for North Belfast where Gallagher’s, the American Brands subsidiary, was situated. He noted that Goldin was...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 206-215)

    The task the MacBride campaigners had set themselves was a formidable one: to confront the UK and US establishments; challenge policies; and achieve social, economic and political change in Northern Ireland. It was something that previous generations of Irish-Americans had failed to achieve. To do it, they had to break the stranglehold of the ‘special relationship’ between the two states, to enable the UK’s Northern Irish policy to be debated in the Congress. The campaign was independent of constitutional Irish nationalist leaders. Its organisation, funding and policy decisions were all made in the United States. It triumphed over the hostility...

  13. Appendix A The Sullivan Principles (1977)
    (pp. 216-216)
  14. Appendix B The MacBride Principles, 1984
    (pp. 217-218)
  15. Appendix C The McBride Principles: unpublished suggested revision by the Northern Ireland Department of Economic Development
    (pp. 219-219)
  16. Appendix D SDLP’s Charter for Equal and Just Opportunities, November 1986
    (pp. 220-220)
  17. Appendix E An End to Discrimination in Employment: Sinn Féin’s Proposals, May 1997
    (pp. 221-222)
  18. Appendix F Comparison of the MacBride Principles with Fair Employment Legislation in Northern Ireland (No. 1)
    (pp. 223-226)
  19. Appendix G Comparison of the MacBride Principles with Fair Employment Legislation in Northern Ireland
    (pp. 227-228)
  20. Appendix H Analysis of Resolution of the Labour Party Conference on Northern Ireland from 1980 to 1991
    (pp. 229-230)
  21. Appendix I Resolutions for the Labour Party Conferences, 1987 and 1988
    (pp. 231-232)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 233-279)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 280-286)
  24. Index
    (pp. 287-308)