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    Clinton, Obama campaigns take Irish slants

    By Noreen Bowden | April 17, 2008

    The Irish interest in the Democratic primary continues, with several developments of Irish interest from both campaigns in the last week.

    Senator Hillary Clinton appeared last week at the first of three Irish-American Presidential Forums. She spoke on a variety of issues, including her belief in the Northern Ireland peace process and her commitment to a strong economic partnership between the US and Ireland.

    On immigration, Clinton said she sought comprehensive immigration reform:

    “There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States,” Clinton said.

    She said that as president she would work with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and other advocacy groups to put the undocumented on a path to legalization as part of comprehensive reform.

    She spoke of her passion for Irish issues, and her plan to dedicate herself to Ireland’s progress in her presidency:

    “I was asked if I would commit to visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland during my first term in office. What a hardship,” she said to loud laughter.

    “I have visited Northern Ireland six times as first lady and a senator and I am always looking for an excuse to go back. So I will as president travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland to honor the strong and deep relationship between our peoples. We have shared values, common aspirations, a bond that it unbreakable and presidential visits are a special part of reinforcing that bond.”

    Read full coverage in the Irish Echo.  

     Meanwhile, Irish-American supporters of Barack Obama have taken out an ad in the Irish Echo to proclaim their support for the candidate, and to condemn media claims that the ‘white working class’ opposes him.  “The Irish American Writers and Artists Association”, a group of 22 Irish-born and Irish-American creative types, say

    “We are the descendants of the generations of Irish American working-class women and men who helped build this country, nurse its sick, care for its children, work its mines, fight its wars and police its streets. We wholeheartedly endorse Barack Obama in his quest for the Presidency of the United States.”

    Several of the group are quoted in the Irish Echo article as condemning the media’s use of the term “white working class” as a code for racism.  The report says:

    The signing group, 22 in number, write that “generations of progressive Irish Americans and African Americans” had worked side by side in the struggle to improve conditions for the poor and working class, whatever their color or ethnicity.

    “We reiterate our commitment to this struggle in our enthusiastic endorsement of Obama as the surest way to stop the destructive drift in our nation’s foreign and domestic policies, and return dignity, tolerance, compassion and intelligence to the White House. We proudly stand with Barack Obama,” they state.

    English, author of “Westies” and “Paddywhacked,” and among those behind the initiative said the signatories believed Obama represented the continuation and culmination of the struggle for civil rights that JFK helped to foster and for which Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy gave their lives.

    “We will not sit idly by while the term ‘white working class’ becomes a kind of code for “Irish working class bigotry,'” English said.

    See the entire article.

    See Irish Americans for Obama website.

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