By Ray O’Hanlon
The Irish American Republicans lobby group has come out against the recent rescinding of Florida’s MacBride Principles law by the Sunshine State’s GOP governor, Rick Scott.
In a strongly worded statement, the IAR said it was urging Governor Scott to “inform himself” regarding the current situation in Northern Ireland.
Said the IAR statement: “While we acknowledge the progress made since the Good Friday Accords, assisted by a period of incredible economic growth throughout Ireland, we also know that anti-Catholic sentiment is still very palpable in Northern Ireland.
“One needn’t live there to be aware of it; any visitor can see the signs, literal signs, of the tension that remains. Stout concrete wall be between neighborhoods have been built to keep the peace. In spite of our lingering substantial racial issues this is not a step that America has ever found necessary. It is an indication of how far Northern Ireland has to go.”
The statement saw no merit in Florida turning its back on a MacBride law that, up until a few days ago, had been on the state’s books since 1988.
It said: “To step back from the McBride Principles at this juncture is tantamount to endorsing the bigotry that has and does plague Irish society. Any pressure to do so can only originate from those who would profit from continued discrimination against Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority. No American politician who plans to remain in office should want himself identified with that effort.”
The statement concluded: “We urge Governor Scott to inform himself of the situation that exists in Northern Ireland, and reject this very bad idea.”
The rescinding was put into effect by Gov. Scott’s signature attached to a line item in Florida’s state budget.
Meanwhile, WGCU, National Public Radio station serving south West Florida, reported on the rescinding thus: “Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed nearly fifty bills into law this week. One of them lifted decades-old restrictions on doing business with Northern Ireland.
“The move has raised the ire of Irish Catholics.”
The report continued: The MacBride Principles were created in the mid-'80s to protect Catholics from economic discrimination in Northern Ireland. Among other things, they require employers to have a percentage of Catholics on staff.
“Florida — along with 17 other states and the federal government — adopted the principles. That means the Florida Pension Fund can invest in Northern Irish companies only if they prove they’re abiding by the principles.
But the new law does away with the investment restriction.”