Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID)
|Purpose||Irish Reunification, support for the Northern Ireland Peace Process|
|Headquarters||Pearl River, New York|
|Origins||Northern Ireland civil rights movement, The Troubles|
|Services||Fundraising, Irish language education, Republican activism|
|The Irish People|
NORAID, officially the Irish Northern Aid Committee, is an Irish American membership organization founded after the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969. The organization states its mission is to aid in the creation of a United Ireland in the spirit of the 1916 Easter Proclamation and to support the Northern Ireland Peace process. During The Troubles NORAID was known for raising funds for the Provisional Irish Republican Army and other Nationalist community groups. NORAID runs a newsletter titled The Irish People which provides analysis and coverage of ongoing events in Northern Ireland.
Unionist politicians and the British, Irish and United States governments have accused NORAID of being a front for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and that it was involved in fundraising for IRA arms importation from North America since the early 1970s. This accusation has always been denied by NORAID. NORAID's former leader, Martin Galvin, was banned from the United Kingdom in the 1980s. The charge was also disputed by historian Ed Moloney who stated that the funds raised by NORAID went largely to the families of IRA volunteers, and that Clan na Gael was the principal financial backer of the Provisional IRA.
By the late 1980s, NORAID was a loose federation of local branches centred on fundraising. Sinn Féin, the political party associated with the IRA, wanted NORAID to expand its activities. At the end of 1988, NORAID agreed to try to broaden its appeal and its executive committee was expanded. Sinn Féin sent an organizer to the United States, and more time and money was devoted to lobbying and propaganda.
Then-president Pat O'Connell said "Americans are fed up with their own nation's politics. They sure as hell don't want to get involved in Irish politics. They only want to give money for the prisoners and their families, not for political lobbying." O'Connell subsequently opened a separate NORAID office in the Bronx.
A letter later published in New York's two Irish weeklies charged that under Martin Galvin and others, NORAID was "being steered in a direction toward politics and away from its original humanitarian objectives." The first name among forty-one signers was Michael Flannery, who in 1986 had quietly resigned from NORAID. Galvin joined Noraid in the early 1970s, and became the committee's publicity director and editor of its weekly newspaper, The Irish People. He later joined the group's board of directors. Galvin split with Sinn Féin in the mid-1990s over the direction of the Northern Ireland peace process.
NORAID has in the past supported "Project Children", a New York-based organization founded in 1975, to provide summer vacations for children from Northern Ireland away from sectarian strife.
In 1994, Sinn Féin was de-listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department after the start of peace efforts in Northern Ireland. NORAID was supportive of the peace process and the subsequent Good Friday Agreement and is nowadays highly supportive of Sinn Féin.
Irish Northern Aid is an American based membership organization that supports through peaceful means, the establishment of a socialist and democratic 32-county Ireland.
Our Strategy: To develop a broad coalition of supporters for Irish Unity through organizing and educating the public, our members, political leaders, and the media.
To support the current Peace Process, including the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement which was endorsed by the vast majority of the Irish people.
To support a process of National reconciliation and equality for all the citizens of Ireland.
Membership: In keeping with the principles of the 1916 Proclamation, Irish Northern Aid is open to anyone who shares these values.
1981 case in U.S. federal court
In May 1981, the United States Department of Justice won a court case forcing NORAID to register the Provisional Irish Republican Army as its "foreign principal" under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. wrote: "The uncontroverted evidence is that [Noraid] is an agent of the IRA, providing money and services for other than relief purposes." NORAID lawyers appealed the decision but lost.
A compromise was reached between federal attorneys and NORAID, allowing it to include with its filings a written statement expressing that the document had been signed under duress and that NORAID maintained that the IRA was not its "foreign principal". NORAID resumed filing its financial returns in July 1984.
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