chapter  6
16 Pages

Irish-American relations

To put things in perspective, Ireland's relationship with America hardly commanded the constant and diligent attention of the United States National Security Council. In the diplonlatic realm Ireland has come on to the President's foreign policy agenda on only a handful of occasions. The most important was the period after World War I when the Irish l110venlent for independence shook the relationship with Britain from 1916 to 1922. The second was during World War II when the neutrality of Ireland affected the potential strategy of the United States and Britain in the Battle of the Atlantic. The third was the achicvenlcnt of thc 1998 Good Friday Agreement, brokered by a fonner American Senator George Mitchell, and brought about in no small part because of the efforts of President Bill Clinton. While rarely breaking the diplomatic threshold of high international politics, the relationship of Ireland to the United States, however, is marked by wide and deep transnational networks and relationships. These relationships operate on the personal and familial level, on the economic level and on the political level. Successive administrations, for example, saw the problenl of Northern Ireland as an internal matter for the United Kingdom and the issue was not treated as an independent foreign policy issue, yet at the transnational level a host of connections, activities and pressures were involving the FBI, the courts, members of Congress, state and local governnlcnts, the business community and labour unions. The transnational networks illuminate the influence of ethnic groups on intenlational politics and Ireland is among the more illustrative cases of ethnic transnational pressures.