Inside Britain's Irish Lobby

Good evening. My name’s Peter O’Boring of Channel 4. I’m in this bar in Queens, New York to investigate a little known but very rich and powerful lobby group: the Irish Lobby. In every city in the world there is an Irish bar, often called O’Flanagan’s. A Channel 4 production company, Hardcore Productions, has sent incognito cameramen into these bars in New York, Chicago and other US cities with cameras in their skirts and they have photographic evidence that Americans of Irish extraction meet in these bars to drink Guinness – sometimes to excess. We stress that we have no evidence that any kind of IRA conspiracy to blow up parts of London and murder thousands of innocent civilians mercilessly in cold blood takes place in these bars (but since when did we let a small thing like lack of evidence get in the way). Ireland is a wonderful and extraordinary country with a rich and flourishing democratic history. It has a profound right to exist. But this moral legitimacy does not mean that the foreign and internal policies of Ireland should be exempt from the same kind of probing criticism that any independent state must expect. Nor does it mean that the rights of Ulstermen to their own state in Northern Ireland can be ignored. Nor does it mean that critics of Ireland should be branded haters of Catholics.
David Cameron has never commented on IRA atrocities. It is impossible to imagine any British political leader showing such equanimity and tolerance if British troops had committed even a fraction of the human rights abuses and war crimes of which the IRA has been accused.
The fact that Michael O’Leary, the owner of Ryanair, lives in a house called Gigginstown House which is worth £3 million only heightens suspicions.
Our researchers have established that the American-Irish and their businesses have donated more than £10m to Irish clubs and lobby groups in the UK over the past eight years – that’s more than to any other lobby. It is surely a matter of profound concern that UK foreign policy may be being influenced by a group which opposes British policy in Northern Ireland.
The pro-Ireland lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate in the UK. But it needs to be far more open about how it is funded and what it does. This is partly because the present obscurity surrounding the funding arrangements and activities of organisations such as O’Flanagans Bar, Cricklewood Broadway, the London Irish Centre and the Conservative Friends of Ireland paradoxically give rise to conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact. But it is mainly because politics in a democracy should never take place behind closed doors. It should be out in the open and there for all to see.

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