ANIA’s coalition-building, elite network-building, and mass mobilization
In the mid-1980s, the PIRA split as a younger generation from Northern Ireland assumed control. The new leadership advanced a political strategy alongside a rnilitai’y one. Noraid split, too, twice: first in 1986 over the new policy of allowing Sinn Fein MPs to take their seats in the Dublin parliament, and again in 1989 over Sinn Fein's efforts to professionalize and bureaucratize it and include lobbying among its functions. The old guard saw this as detracting from fundraising that served the overall military campaign.51 The militant splinter groups that emerged, however, were small and relatively uninfluential.
Internal dissention within the republican movement also unfolded as the Cold War came to an end, which changed the geostrategic significance of Northern Ireland?2 While the collapse of the bipolar system was perhaps a necessary condition, alone it was not sufficient to produce a profound change in US foreign policy. Domestic politics were critical to this development, particularly the 1992 presidential election, during which the Clinton campaign and prominent Irish Americans developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the former signaling commitment to change the status quo of US foreign policy in exchange for campaign support. After Clinton’s victory, these individuals established Americans for a New Irish Agenda to ensure that he fulfilled Iris promises. Tire organization’s June 1993 constitution noted, “It is already apparent that there is a need for ongoing advocacy by ANIA. and that winning implementation will be a struggle.”53
ANIA’s constitution also stated that the organization was temporary and had no intention of "replacing or challenging any existing [one],” nor even acting as an “umbrella” group, which served to avoid rivalry. It was not a mass membership organization but rather a coalition of leaders from at least seven DOs. It also included other influential figures in Irish-American circles, particularly lawyers, politicians, corporate elites, and prominent labor organizers. One internal memo noted, “It is essential for ANIA to be independent of any particular gr oup, faction or organization with the community ... To do this,.. . the organization must be conceived as composed of individuals rather than specific organizations.”54
ANIA’s mission was to develop a united grassroots "American voice” on Northent Ireland focused arotmd five recommendations made to the Clinton administration in February 1993. These were listed in the organization’s constitution under the following headings: “Special Envoy to Northern Ireland; Misuse and Abuse of the American Justice System; Human Rights in Northern Ireland; Visa Denial and Other Immigration Issues; The MacBride Principles and Economic Investment.” These concents engaged the agendas
Figure 7.2 ANIA’s organizational affiliations
Note: This figure was constructed from ANIA’s Frank Durkan papers, Box 32, which contains an early list of AN1A members- The individuals were connected to the organizations depicted above as well as tire American Irish Congress. As about one-third of the members’ affiliations are unknown, this may understate the size of tire coalition.
of major Irish-American organizations and targeted key US government actors. The Special Envoy initiative was to end the White House’s deference to the UK’s policy that the Northern Ireland conflict was an “internal” matter. The second point targeted the Justice Department, which, ANIA argued, with "excessive zeal . . . pursued and harassed Irish-Americans” for twenty years. The third and fourth targeted the State Department, which it criticized as ignoring the British government’s human rights abuses in Northern Ireland in its annual country report, and denied visas to Sinn Fein and republican sympathizers, which it interpreted as a form of censorship. The fifth targeted both Congress and the White House to tie US investment in the North to fair employment practices. ANIA members constructed a lobbying campaign that included both the Ad Hoc Committee and Friends
Conflict and peacebuilding 165
of Ireland members, and it aimed to influence media coverage and sway general public opinion.55
At the same time, some of its key members constructed a high-level, cross-border network that facilitated conununication among conflict stakeholders. O’Dowd brokered contact between the republican movement and the Clinton White House, via Senator Ted Kennedy’s office. "Brokers,” as network theorists explain, act as intermediaries who facilitate “transactions between other actors who lack access to or trust in one another.”56 They are powerful because their network locations enable them to control resource flows, including information. Moreover, brokers tend to have “good ideas,” detect opportunities, and be innovative.57 In this case, double brokerage added distance between the administration and a stigmatized political party generally regarded as part of a “terrorist” group.
Tire personal contacts of O’Dowd - who used his newspaper to “dedemonize Sirui Fein”58 - were crucial in forging the high-level network. His friend Ciaran Staunton (Noraid activist), whose “work in the [Irish] immigration reform movement [in the United States] had put him in contact with a wide range of Irish and Irish-American political opinion,’’59 connected him to the republican movement leadership. Meanwhile, his friend Brendan Scannell (political counsellor at the kish Embassy) brokered Iris access to Trina Vargo - Senator Kennedy’s advisor on Northern Ireland - and by extension the White House’s deputy national security advisor Nancy Soderberg, who previously worked in Kermedy’s office with Vargo. O’Dowd was also essential in recruiting influential Irish Americans to form a peace delegation to meet with all relevant stakeholders in the Republic of Ireland and in the North. His group included: the billionaire Atlantic Philanthropies founder Chuck Feeney; former Congressman and ANIA chairman Bruce Morrison, who was also friends with the Clintons; and Mutual of America chief Bill Flynn. As Morrison explained. “‘Niall [O’Dowd] was the convener. . . . If Niall had not been there, the group wouldn’t have formed.’”60 In Figure 7.4. the node representing O’Dowd is the largest symbol, as he is the most central actor in this network; Morrison is second.61
In September 1993, the ANIA-connected group, with Clinton’s endorsement, met with actors on all sides of the conflict; the PIRA reciprocated with a ceasefire. Upon return. ANIA members presented Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams with an opportunity to apply for a US visa: a peace conference
Figure 7.3 Flow of communication, double brokerage
Figure 7.4 Initial relationships of the ANIA network
Note: Data for this network were drawn from various sources, especially publicly available interviews by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia as well as newspaper articles and secondary sources of detailed histories of the Irish peace process. Tire thickness of the lines depicts strength of the ties between actors in the following order from weak to strong: contact, professional relationship, and friendship The graph likely underestimates the density and intensity of the connections. For example, Nancy Soderberg also worked for Kennedy and was Vargo’s predecessor on the Irish portfolio. As a congressman, Morrison also had woiked with Kennedy on the Immigration Reform Act of 1990 that increased the number of US visas available to people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern he land. Figure 7.4 also does not contain all key actors. Tire shape of Hie nodes identify different types of actors: circles are politicians, squares are diplomats and career civil servants, and triangles are non-state actors. The size of the nodes was determined by betweenness centrality as measured by Netdraw.
at the invitation of a prestigious foreign policy think-tank chaired by Flynn. Dialogue among the key actors led to a convergence in favor of the visa. Among these were: Albert Reynolds, the Irish prime minister: US ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith; the SDLP's John Hume, who had already had secret talks with Adams; and finally. Ted Kennedy, whose support, as O'Dowd noted, was necessary for any political action regarding Irish issues.62 Ultimately, the initial three-legged path between Adams and Soderberg via O’Dowd and Vargo (see Figure 7.3) collapsed into direct communication between the two. Meanwhile, Kennedy Smith brokered a meeting between Senator Kennedy and Prime Minister Reynolds, who made a compelling argument in support of the visa. Hume, who was a friend of Kennedy's since the 1970s, also approved and communicated that to Kennedy after having been "worked on” by Kennedy Smith and Sean O’Huiggan of Dublin’s Foreign Ministry.63 The relationships between these actors on the eve of the visa approval in late January 1994 are depicted in Figure 7.5. The graph is relatively dense as it contains a high proportion of ties of varying strength among the actors.
The network was underpinned by interpersonal relationships ranging from simple contact to professional relationships and friendship. There is even one close familial connection: Senator Kennedy and Ambassador Kennedy Smith were siblings. By January 1994, President Clinton was persuaded to approve the visa, departing from the ban in the face of opposition from the United Kingdom, the Justice Department, the FBI. and the State Department, which argued that such a move would negatively affect Clinton’s Bosnia policy as it required the British government’s support.64
In addition to opening lines of communication between key conflict stakeholders and forging trust among them concerning the PIRA’s intentions, it mobilized a "large-scale grassroots lobbying effort from Irish organizations across the US” to urge politicians to support the initiative, which heightened pressure on them to approve of the Adams visa.65 British correspondence described senators who endorsed the visa and the White House as "shaking under the Irish American bombardment.”66
Clinton’s approval signaled the overturning of “a 50-year hegemony over Irish policy that the British government had exercised through the State Department.”67 As one journalist quipped. "Adams was transformed from a political leper into a dinner guest at the White House.”68 The British government, however, fought normalization "every inch of the way,” according to Adams.69 Its internal correspondence described the visa as "the finest platform ever granted to the IRA to justify terrorism.”70 Figure 7.6 depicts the shift in alignments among the main actors in the US political arena. Beyond the US zone, moreover, the implications were profound: the Republic of Ireland rescinded its twenty-year ban of Sinn Fein on radio and television.
Figure 7.5 January 1994 ANIA network
Note: See the note for Figure 7.4. This graph contains an additional tie strength - family.
Figure 7.6 Reconfiguration of alliances around Adams visa, early 1994
Note: The United States is split into two circles, which shows the separation between the US Executive bureaucracy (particularly the Departments of State and Justice) and the White House and the National Security Council, which became the locus of decision making on US foreign policy regardmg Northern Ireland.
which was soon followed by an end to the six-year ban of its words being heard on British broadcasting.
In 1995, with financial backing from ANIA billionaire Chuck Feeney (who also donated to Clinton’s presidential campaign), Sinn Fein established a fundraising organization in the United States, Friends of Sinn Fem. which was not a membership organization but one that courted influential donors within the Irish-American conununity. This HPPO strengthened the movement’s mainstreaming into the Northern Ireland political arena and further sidelined Noraid, whose long-time members had already felt pushed aside by Sinn Fem.71 As one informant described, the party came to “see
Noraid as a liability” rather than an asset.72 Ultimately, these were important steps toward the Good Friday Agreement.
Friends of Sinn Fein continues to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, and other DOs still send funding to Northern Ireland NGOs working toward peace. Meanwhile, the Ireland Fund, a philanthropy DO founded in 1976, has developed a network of fundraising chapters in the United States and now operates in twelve countries, providing support to non-profit organizations on both sides of the Irish border that work to advance reconciliation. In the 2000s, Irish America’s attention had shifted significantly away from "homeland politics” toward “immigrant politics,” particularly the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States. With Brexit looming, however, there is heightened attention once again to stability in the North.