Date of Award
In 1976, U.S. Congressman Mario Biaggi, D-NY, seized on Jimmy Carter's comments regarding human rights conditions in Northern Ireland. Biaggi, and several Irish/American groups, took these comments as an opening to challenge British policies in Northern Ireland. To aid this effort Biaggi in 1977 formed the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, focusing on human rights in Northern Ireland. Their efforts ran up agains long-established U.S./British diplomatic relations and faced strong opposition in U.S. and Irish political circles. As the Northern Ireland debate unfolded during the Carter Administration, Biaggi and the Ad Hoc Committee increasingly aligned with pro-IRA forces and were in turn denounced as supporters of terrorists. This characterization misses the importance of their efforts to broaden the political dialogue to include paramilitary groups and in increasing attention to the human rights situation in Northern Ireland, both key early steps leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Johnson, Ronnie, "An Unlikely Champion: Congressman Mario Biaggi and the Beginnings of a Negotiated Settlement in Northern Ireland" (2007). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 518.