Rita O'Hare visits Seattle
Rita O'Hare, Sinn Féin's representative to the United States, visited Seattle on Friday and Saturday, 3 and 4 November. She spoke to a variety of audiences, articulating Sinn Féin's continuing efforts to push the Irish Peace Process forward and urging Irish Americans and other supporters to maintain their commitment to a peaceful, just and united Ireland.
On Friday morning, O'Hare was a guest on ``Weekday,'' a daily programme on KUOW FM, a local NPR affiliate. During the interview, Rita provided a context for the current crisis in the peace process. She also highlighted the issues of great importance to nationalists that are dealt with in the Good Friday Agreement but have yet to begin to be dealt with in reality. She pointed to institutionalised inequality, as illustrated by the flying of flags issue; the absence of British demilitarisation, especially in areas like South Armagh; and the watering down of the Patten recommendations on policing as examples of how the British government has failed to keep its commitments under the Agreement.
The World Affairs Council of Seattle and Tacoma hosted a luncheon with Rita O'Hare at noon, Friday, at the Washington Athletic Club. With a mission of ``Bringing the World to Western Washington,'' the World Affairs Council sponsors speakers on key international issues. She received a warm, enthusiastic welcome from the gathering of local business people.
On Friday evening, O'Hare attended a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraising dinner at the Irish Emigrant Restaurant in the University District. She assured the audience that ``the unionists will not stop us from representing the people who voted for us, because the people we represent have suffered the most from partition, from sectarianism, from discrimination and from exclusion''.
On Saturday, 4 November, Rita spent the afternoon at a luncheon with friends, local activists and elected officials. Attendees included Harriet Walden, the founder of Mothers for Police Accountability, and State Representative Al O'Brien, a co-sponsor of the MacBride Principles in the Washington State House.
Rita O'Hare's first visit to Seattle ended with a reception and lecture at El Centro de la Raza, a local Latino community centre in South Seattle. After warm welcomes and messages of solidarity by Ricardo Aguirre, the chairman of the board of El Centro, and Roberto Maestes, El Centro's director, Rita addressed the crowd. ``It is most appropriate for me to speak, representing Sinn Féin, here at El Centro. Our people have much shared history and have historically identified with each other's struggles.'' After questions and answers, Rita had two things left to say: ``Tiocfaidh ár lá!'' and ``Hasta la victoria siempre!''