An array of speakers, veterans of the campaign and relative newcomers, spoke to a packed chamber about the naissance of the campaign, the reasons for it, and why MacBride, and the nine fair employment guidelines named after the late Irish Nobel Laureate, is still relevant in today's Northern Ireland.
"Keep on the journey for change," Irish labor leader and original MacBride signatory, Inez McCormack, urged all in the room.
McCormack was one of three honorees on the night, the others being Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, who first fired up the campaign in 1984, and Pat Doherty, who has been the keeper of the MacBride flame in the office of the New York City Comptroller since the earliest days of the MacBride effort.
MacBride past, present and future was addressed by the honorees, as well as a list of distinguished speakers including incoming comptroller John Liu
Liu pledged to expand the legacy of MacBride, now enshrined in multiple state laws and federal law, over the next 25 years.
"We will continue to invest in Northern Ireland in a way which affects change and allows both communities equality of opportunity,"
The gathering, hosted and addressed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, also featured contributions from North junior minister Gerry Kelly, former NYC comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman, state comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Irish Consul General Niall Burgess, former New York Assembly member John Dearie, former New York City Council member Sal Albanese, Joe Jamison of the Irish American Labor Coalition, and attorney Brian O'Dwyer, who chaired the event.
Presentations to the honorees were made ay Assemblyman Michael Cusick and AOH National Vice President, Brendan Moore. The Hibernians and the law firm of O'Dwyer and Bernstien were main sponsors of the event which was organized by the Irish Echo.
In his address, Brian O'Dwyer recalled that opposition to the MacBride Principles had come from the "British and Irish governments and from some voices in nationalism," but that the impact the campaign had made on integrating workplaces in the North had been a vindication of the efforts of Irish America.
In addition to the three honorees, the speakers were presented with books, a study of the campaign penned by former British Labor Party spokesman on Northern Ireland, Kevin McNamara, and the National Book Award winning "Let the Great world Spin," by Colum McCann, who was present in the chamber to sign the copies presented.