My Canadian Odyssey
Following an Easter visit to Canada, West Belfast Assembly Member Councillor Alex Maskey has paid tribute to those he met who are working for justice and peace in Ireland.
Maskey, who was a guest of republicans and the ``Coalition for Peace in Ireland'', toured Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
He said the highlight of the tour was the republican commemorations in Toronto and Montreal. ``It is great to see republicans coming together each Easter to honour Ireland's dead and promoting the cause of independence in cities as far away as Toronto and Montreal. I was most impressed with the growing influence of the Coalition for Peace in Ireland and how they have managed to engage with such a wide range of Canadian society. The fact that I managed to speak with politicians at Federal, Provincial and Municipal level representing several parties is a tribute to the coalition, which is building an impressive list of contacts. These contacts span the political spectrum and I believe this can and will be considerably built on for the future.
In political terms, I believe my visit was quite significant since I saw at first hand how keen many politicians are in Canada to help the peace process here in Ireland. I was also impressed by their considerable knowledge and understanding of the current situation. There is no doubt that there is now an opportunity to build relations between Canada and Ireland on the issues of Freedom, Justice and Peace. I found it also extremely important to meet with both the Canadian Department of External Affairs and the Irish Ambassador, Paul Dempsey. My message to all those with whom I met, including CSN (Trade Union) and media, was that the Good Friday Agreement required continuing, indeed renewed international support. This was well received and acknowledged. I believe that for ten days over the Easter period, the Sinn Féin message was received loud and clear by a growing network of politicians, media, trade unionists, republicans, lawyers and human rights activists. I would like to congratulate all our friends in Canada for their commitment to Ireland and their tireless efforts on our behalf.''
Carolyn Bennett MP - Visited the Six Counties last year on fact-finding mission
Colleen Beaumier MP - Chairperson of Human Rights sub-committee in the Canadian Parliament
Pat O'Brien MP - Chairperson of the Ireland/Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group
A representative of Canada's External Affairs department
Paul Dempsey - Irish Ambassador
Societe St Jean Baptiste
Cire-Gael - Irish Film Society
Gille Deceppe - Leader of the Bloc Quebecois (44 seats in Canadian Parliament)
Marlene Jennings MP
Manon Perron - Montreal Trade Union leader
Marc Laviolette - President of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (1/4 million members) and other executive members.
Warren Allmand - former Attorney General and head of Human Rights Commission of Canada.
Jean Charest - leader of the Quebec Liberal Party and Official opposition leader.