The Nov. 30 op-ed column by David Trimble, head of the Ulster Unionist Party, tried to convince your readers that Sinn Fein, An Phoblacht (an Irish Republican newspaper) and, presumably by extension, Irish republicans generally, are anti-American.
Trimble asserted that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the editors of An Phoblacht blamed the United States for the devastation. But even a brief review of the An Phoblacht editorial in question refutes that.
In "A Massive Human Tragedy," the editors of An Phoblacht could not possibly have made any clearer to readers their outrage at the attacks, writing that they were "utterly reprehensible and must be condemned." Trimble chose, however, to focus instead on a few sentences toward the end of the editorial, where it was noted that the hijackers were believed to be from the Middle East, a region where Western governments have asserted their influence and where some groups have opposed that influence.
Trimble tries to bolster his argument that Sinn Fein is anti-American by pointing out that the party has expressed opposition to the use of Shannon Airport for refueling U.S. military aircraft en route to potential conflict in Iraq. What Trimble did not mention is that this opposition is not based on anti-Americanism but rather on the fact that Ireland is a neutral country where many citizens interpret the constitution to prohibit such support of foreign military action.
In his next op-ed piece perhaps Trimble could explain why Irish Americans, or any Americans, should support his Ulster Unionist Party. I am sure many of us would be willing to contribute to Trimble's cause if we could only understand why he has for years resisted equal political participation for almost half the population in the north of Ireland and remains wedded to a brutal sectarian police force that has little purpose other than to maintain the privileged status of Trimble's constituency. I'm ready with my checkbook.
-- Paul Gormley