St. Patrick's Day and the IRA

Safely distant from IRA bombs, some Irish Americans plan to turn New York's St. Patrick's Day parade into a celebration of the IRA. Closer to the scene of tragedy abroad, the government of the Irish Republic has instructed its representatives in America to boycott the parade.

Dublin's decision was announced after parade organizers chose a notorious IRA supporter as grand marshal. Thus the Irish government offers a new dramatic gesture in its recent foursquare resistance to violence. Last summer an Irishman was tried and convicted in a Dublin court for a crime (possession of explosives) committed in Britain. This first use of a 1976 law was part of the Irish-British cooperation against terrorism that has continued despite ups and downs in diplomatic temperature.

Americans could join in this mutual effort to prevent suffering and save lives by ending all backing of the illegal IRA. Last fall James Prior, Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said the IRA probably could not keep up its violent campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland without American assistance. He named Noraid (Irish Northern Aid), a nominally humanitarian organization, as the main US channel for money and wea-pons.

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Yet it is a founder of Noraid who has been made grand marshal of the New York parade March 17. He has reportedly said that ''it's definitely going to be a pro-IRA parade.''

What a harsh mockery of the victims and the bereaved left by IRA terrorists. The question of British rule has to be decided by all the people of Northern Ireland, not by a heartless remnant dependent on guns from outsiders. Against all odds Mr. Prior presses for legislative means to give the people a growing political voice. It is this that American supporters of justice in Northern Ireland should be parading for, not for more faraway bombs and bullets.

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