Invites out for Irish Presidential Forum
THE multitude of candidates vying for the White House in this year's elections will have the opportunity to put forth their views on Irish issues at a special Irish American forum scheduled for Sunday, 5 March at John Jay College in Manhattan, New York.
The date was chosen to coincide with the New York primary, which takes place two days later.
The event is being organised by Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King, Queens Democrat Joe Crowley, and attorney John Dearie, who first conceived the idea of Irish presidential forums back in the 1980s.
``Once again, this forum will provide the singular opportunity during this presidential campaign for candidates of both parties to think seriously about America's role and relationship to Ireland and Northern Ireland, and to formulate responses to the political issues paramount to the Irish American community nationally,'' the three organisers said in a statement.
Presidential hopefuls from the Republican and Democratic parties will be asked to participate, as will possible Reform Party candidates Donald Trump and Pat Buchanan.
King has extended invitations to Republican candidates George W. Bush, John McCain, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, and Gary Bauer, while Crowley has contacted the offices of Vice President Al Gore and his challenger Bill Bradley.
The presidential forum in 1992 was attended by Bill Clinton, who at the time promised that if elected, he would issue the first U.S. visa to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
Irish Americans are being invited to suggest questions and topics that should be covered at the forum. All correspondence should be sent to Congressman Crowley at his Queens office, 82-11 37th Avenue, Suite 607, Jackson Heights, New York 11372.
The opening salvo of this year's presidential elections, the primaries in Iowa, provided mixed results for the two front runners. Al Gore received a boost when he comfortably outpolled Bill Bradley, his sole challenger for the Democratic Presidential nomination. George W. Bush, however, although he took the primary as expected, was put under pressure from a resurgent Steve Forbes, who managed to secure 30 per cent of preferences. Bush's main challenger, Senator John McCain, did not campaign in Iowa but will be hoping for good performances in the all-important New Hampshire primary in February. After New Hampshire, the strength of the threats to Gore and Bush should be clearer.