During the week of Sunday, February 9 to Saturday, February 15 the Capitol Hill- based Irish National Caucus is sponsoring, for the third time, a visit of the Northern Ireland victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, Sr.
Mr. McCord will brief individual members of Congress on the case of the 1997 murder of his son, Raymond, Jr.
Fr. Sean McManus, president/founder of the Irish National Caucus, said of the upcoming visit that the first member of Congress to sign up to meet Raymond McCord was Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
McManus: “That, of course, is in keeping with his long and
exemplary record on Irish justice and peace. And, to me, very touchingly,
it is in the splendid tradition of my dear friend, the late, great,
beloved Congressman Ben Gilman (R- NY), also a former chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Although Ben was a Republican, and Eliot is a Democrat, there is no division between them when it comes to justice and peace on the island of Ireland. Like Congressman Gilman, Congressman Engel is a long-time congressional Friend of the Irish National Caucus.”
Raymond McCord, according to Fr. McManus, expressed delight when told that Chairman Engel had confirmed the meeting.
“Because some of those responsible for the murder of Raymond Jr. were police informers/British agents, the crime has been, and still is, covered up. In twenty- two years, there has not even been an inquest into his brutal murder,” said the Fermanagh-born McManus.
In May 2009, Fr. McManus first hosted McCord, Sr. in Washington, D.C. so as to highlight the case of his murdered son.
Fr. McManus escorted Mr. McCord around the halls of Congress introducing him to key members. He obtained a commitment from then chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Human Rights, Congressman Bill Delahunt, to hold a congressional hearing. That hearing took place on October 22, 2009.
The hearing, according to a statement from the Irish National Caucus, together with the report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, “powerfully exposed to the world British government collusion in the brutal murder of Raymond McCord, Jr.”
“And now, again, the Irish National Caucus is bringing Raymond McCord, Sr. back to Capitol Hill, the statement said.
Added the INC release: “The alliance of a Belfast Protestant Unionist and a well- known Fermanagh priest who has for years been raising in the United States Congress the issue of British collusion in murder and human rights violations,” has had a compelling impact on Congress.
“Ecumenism and reconciliation are at their truest and best when Protestants and Catholics not only pray together but also work together for social justice,” said Fr. McManus.
Mr. McCord said that unionist politicians “had refused to meet me or speak out after the murder of my son” and had ridiculed and rejected the Ombudsman’s report.
“They didn’t even offer sympathy or support or visit our house or attend young Raymond’s funeral. They betrayed my son, family, and my community. In fact, the only well-known person to come to my aid was Fr. McManus.”
Mr. McCord added: “I don’t want pity. I want truth and justice. Every impediment to my quest for justice is because of the continuing cover-up by the State.
“Every obstacle created by the State causes me more delays. Young Raymond has never even had an inquest in over twenty-two years since his death. The Police Service of Northern Ireland and the State – if they can get away with it – have no intention of bringing those responsible to face justice.
“That’s how Northern Ireland is for many victims. But I am not quitting. I will never cease my campaign for justice for my son and for all victims from both communities.
“And that’s the message I am bringing to Congress, with the help of Fr. McManus. I am deeply grateful for his enduring support, and for that of Congress, and of Irish Americans in general. And let me stress this: Achieving justice for victims, also, greatly strengthens the Irish peace process.”