Here is an interesting fact that i didn’t know until today. There are ten times more people in America who consider themselves ‘Irish’ than the number of people actually living in Ireland itself! Even if you consider the fact that probably more than half those people have less connection to Ireland than they might actually like, it’s still a quite staggering statistic.

Of course, many of those Irish Americans have political opinions about the “struggle back home” and the activities of the terrorist organisation the IRA (Irish republican Army). I’ve heard so called Irish Americans, who haven’t been ‘home’ often if ever, talk about the “Bastard British” and the plight of the “comrades” fighting against the British. I tend to stay silent in such discussion, because as wrong as it might sound, I don’t really know a lot about the Irish problem. All I know is that it’s steeped in history and hatred that goes back years and that I dare say the British did indeed do terrible things to the Irish that helped ensure such entrenched loathing of us.

Having said that, while I sit and listen to those Irish Americans who talk about the “glory of the revolution” and the “battle” I note that these people, like all of us, were appalled at the outrageous acts of terrorism on September 11th 2001. Like everyone, they are keen to see that such a thing never happens again on American soil, yet somehow they feel justified in donating money to funds in order to aid the “battle back home,” a battle that we have, for years and years before 9/11, simply called terrorism.

As a child I grew up in a time when innocent office workers and tourists in London were being killed on a regular basis by bombs planted by the IRA. I sat in a London garden one afternoon and heard the deep boom of the biggest bomb to ever explode in the UK, then watched a thick black plume of smoke snake its way into the air over the city. I’ve been evacuated from parts of London too many times to remember as threats of bombs were called in, some real, some false. I’ve seen the devastation of a shopping mall in Manchester levelled by a huge IRA bomb planted in the back of a truck. I’ve been evacuated from work twice in bomb scares and watched the bomb squad carry out a controlled explosion on one place of work to disable a suspect package. Like anyone having grown up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I watched all this and never once did it ever strike me as glorious or a worthy struggle that might have a peaceful outcome. To me it was just terrorism. Needless hateful violence carried out by murderers and people who are “proud” to fight for what they believe in, but too cowardly to unmask their faces in the process.

Most of the money for this wave of violence, and indeed the violence that still goes on today, comes from the United States. It stands to reason that this would be the case when you consider that there are ten times more ‘Irish Americans’ than Irish people living in Ireland. But it seems that in the shadow of Americas own battle against terrorism, support for the IRA and its political affiliates has begun to fade fast.

Many political and influential voices in the United States are now stepping away from their support, or lack of condemnation, for the the IRA. With Sinn Fein’s leader, Jerry Adams, being shunned by many of the high profile figures who were due to meet him in his trip to America, there would seem to be a change of heart coming from ‘Irish Americans.’

Maybe this change of heart is just because support for the IRA might fly too much in the face of Bush’s war against terrorism too much, and create an unwelcome spotlight and backlash on the person in question. Or maybe the change of heart really is just that, a change of heart. Maybe some Irish Americans are finally figuring out that “the battle back home” isn’t going to be “gloriously won” by setting off bombs, shooting people, and killing innocent men, women and children.

Make no mistake, I’m not saying that I disagree or agree with the political objectives of the likes of Sinn Fein. I’m not invalidating the very real Irish issues at hand. I’m just glad to see that in these violent times it would seem that some of the IRA’s long distant supporters are waking up to the fact that killing more people isn’t getting them any closer to their long term political goals.

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