WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a member of the Congressional Irish-American Working Group, joined a bipartisan collection of his colleagues in a meeting with Ireland’s Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Martin McGuinness to discuss what is being called a historic move by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to end its armed campaign and focus on a peaceful process for the negotiation of a stable government.
“The commitment by those involved to embrace peace is a giant leap forward in democratic progress for the people of Ireland,” said Congressman Higgins.
On Thursday, the IRA released a statement saying, “All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.”
Sinn Fein, founded in 1905, is the oldest political movement in Ireland. Deputy Leader McGuinness, a key negotiator for Sinn Fein, assured members of Congress, “We stand here today for peace, not just peace in Ireland but peace in the world.”
Throughout his life Congressman Higgins, whose grandparents came to America from counties Mayo and Kerry in Ireland, has involved himself in reflecting on his strong Irish roots. In the process of earning a Master’s Degree in Anglo-Irish History from Buffalo State College the Congressman wrote his thesis on Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free Army Michael Collins. The Higgins family has also spent a number of summers opening their home to children involved in the Belfast Summer Relief Program.