The 47-member House International Relations Committee represents a broad cross-section of congressional political opinion. Fourteen of the members represent northeast (mainly New York and New Jersey) constituencies, some such as Ben Gilman’s, with a strong Irish-American makeup. A substantial core of these have been identified over the years with Irish issues. As well as Gilman, they are Peter King, a New York Republican; Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat; Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat; Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican; Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, and Gary Ackerman, also a New York Democrat.
All have been sympathetic to Sinn Fein and the Irish nationalist agenda in general. King has been a long-time supporter also of the IRA. Smith was prominent in the hearings into Northern Ireland police reform. They can be expected to lend a sympathetic ear to any plausible explanation from Sinn Fein as to what the three republicans were doing in Bogota, should the party chose to send a representative to the hearing.
However, Rep. Hyde and Cass Ballenger a Republican from North Carolina, both conservatives, have been resolute in their determination to look at the allegations of IRA and FARC links. Ballenger was unequivocal when speaking before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on April 11. “The IRA has been in Colombia providing the FARC narco-terrorists with urban terrorist expertise and training,” he said.