The recent revocation of my visa by the U.S. State Department not only denies me, as an elected public representative from Ulster, the right to put my views to the American people on an issue about which the U.S. government has been concerning itself, but more seriously it denies the majority of unionist people in Northern Ireland, whom successive election results show I have the honor to lead, even the right to have their case heard. So the decision of the State Department is a calculated slur upon the majority community in Northern Ireland.
This denial of freedom of expression not only repudiates the time-honored reputation of the U.S.A. as the country of freedom, but it contrasts sharply with the official attitude to the cause of Irish Republicanism. For instance the terrorism of the IRA has been greatly assisted by the continuing refusal of the U.S. government to sanction the sale of much-needed weaponry to the police force of Northern Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. At the same time IRA-linked organizations in America have continued to collect and send millions of dollars to Northern Ireland for the purchase of further weapons of terror. Meanwhile numerous apologists for the IRA have come and gone to the U.S.A. at will, especially over the past year during the IRA hunger strike campaign.
Add to this the recent declaration in Dublin by the then-Deputy Secretary of State William Clark that all Americans are praying for the unification of Ireland--that is the ending of my province as a separate British entity in Ireland--and the imbalance and bias in the American stance, which is compounded by the revocation of my visa, is as obvious as it is overwhelming
Furthermore it should be noted that those in Congress who were active in campaigning against my proposed visit, such as Rep. Mario Biaggi, have themselves traveled to and from my country in order to express their views on our internal affairs without hindrance. Little wonder then that many detect a high degree of cant and hypocrisy in the State Department's stance and that all the leading London papers, including The Times and The Guardian, have attacked the revocation of my visa.
By far the most alarming aspect of this whole affair is the statement by State Department officials that my presence in the U.S.A. would be "contrary to American foreign policy interests." Since my only purpose in visiting America was to present the unionist viewpoint on the Ulster situation and to plead for an end to the flow of dollars that is enabling the IRA to murder the innocent people of Northern Ireland, I find it difficult to contemplate what the foreign policy interests are that my visit would offend, unless they are those of helping the IRA to victory.
The message I wish to present to the American people is a message which by and large they have never fully heard. Indeed by virtue of the orchestrated propaganda of certain Irish Americans and other IRA sympathizers, this message--the message of Ulster unionism--has been grossly misrepresented as one of bigotry and intolerance and as devoid of reason or logic.
In reality however the opposite is true in regard to the case of the Ulster majority. Our case is simple. Northern Ireland, in contrast to the rest of Ireland, has been peopled by those of British extraction and governed as part of the United Kingdom for almost as long as the U.S.A. has had its independence. And above all it should be understood that Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom because that is the undeniable wish of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
We remain British not by compulsion but by choice. It is not British troops that keep us British but the freely expressed will of our people through the ballot box.
When in 1921 the south of Ireland decided to secede from the United Kingdom, the north opted to remain as it was--a full part of the U.K. In exercising that right we were only exercising one of the most fundamental rights of all--the right of self- determination.
It is the refusal of a small Republican minority within Northern Ireland to accept Northern Ireland's right to remain British in accordance with the will of its people, which has, through the IRA, led to the infliction of horrific terrorism upon the people of Northern Ireland in an effort to force them to join in an all-Ireland Republic. What the IRA and Irish Republicanism have failed to achieve through the ballot box they are seeking to obtain through the bullet and the bomb.
The struggle in Northern Ireland therefore is about the defense of democracy against the forces of sheer terror. The people of Northern Ireland ask only to be entitled to decide their own destiny, free from terrorism and external interference.
This refusal by a section of the minority community to accept the state of Northern Ireland contrasts sharply with the constructive and democratic role played by the Protestant minority in the south of Ireland, and this in spite of the near- total eradication of that Protestant minority. Whereas the Roman Catholic population in Northern Ireland has increased significantly since partition, the Protestant minority in the south has been reduced over the same period from 10 percent to less than 4 percent of the population.
There can be no doubt as to how the Ulster people wish to be governed, since no later than May 1981-- the last time they went to the polls--parties supporting union with Great Britain received over 70 percent of the vote.
Given the overwhelming determination of the people of Northern Ireland to remain British and the terrorism they have suffered as a consequence, it is little wonder that remarks such as those by Mr. Clark are deeply resented as encouragements to the terrorists and are viewed as an unwarranted attack upon the right of self-determination by the people of Ulster.