Shevy Speaks At The Irish Reunification Conference
In what Wave columnist Ed "Shevy" Shevlin called, the "greatest honor of my life," he was asked by the General Secretary of Sinn Fein, Rita O'Hare, to address the Irish Reunification Conference on behalf of the Grand Council of Emerald Societies.
He delivered his speech to a packed house of 720 seated guests and many occupying the standing room this past Saturday. The forum was an open dialogue among Irish Americans about how best to unite Ireland and was held at the Midtown Manhattan Hilton Hotel.
Sinn Fein, an Irish republican party, organized the event. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP hosted. The theme of the forum was "United Ireland - How Do We Get There?"
"Irish America has played a significant role in securing the peace process," Adams said. "The next important task is unity."
Adams said he hopes the ideas, proposals and plans presented at the forum propel the issue of Irish unification into the forefront of discussion in Irish America and the Irish diaspora across the world.
"We wish to raise awareness among Irish Americans that the time has come to end the partition of Ireland and construct a new national democracy, a new republic on the island of Ireland," Adams said. "We seek a united, sovereign nation that reconciles nationalists and unionists and guarantees equal rights and equal opportunities for all. We want to bring people together and change their lives for the better."
Joining Adams at the forum were four keynote speakers. They included: author Pete Hamill, former Lebanon hostage and broadcaster Brian Keenan, University of Pennsylvania professor Brendan O'Leary and the president of the Laborers International Union of North America, Terence O'Sullivan.
Organizations participating in the forum included, among others: the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish National Caucus, Irish Northern Aid, the Irish American Unity Conference, the Brehon Law Society, the United Irish Counties Association.
This summer Shevlin will be attending the National University of Ireland, Galway for a month-long Irish language program. Said Shevlin, "While at the University I will be staying with an Irish family that speaks Irish exclusively. Following my stay in Galway I will be in Dublin meeting with Sinn Fein and other government officials to discuss the reunification process and the relationship between our two governments."