Friends of Ireland in and out of the US Congress should take special heed when a hardline advocate of Irish unification such as Prime Minister Charles Haughey appeals to Americans not to lend support to US-based groups feeding the tragic violence in Northern Ireland. Mr. Haughey pointed to "clear and conclusive evidence" this week that one US organization -- the Irish Northern Aid Committee -- has assisted the campaign of violence that over the past decade has claimed 2,000 victims in Northern Ireland. He also voiced grave suspicions about a second group, the Irish National Caucus.
Mr. Haughey's call for cooperation, rather than support of "those whose actions only delay Irish unity," is particularly significant -- and doubly welcome -- in view of the Prime Minister's own past record. Few will forget that ten year ago Mr. Haughey himself, although acquitted on all counts, was forced out of the government and formally charged with involvement in efforts to import guns for use in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Prime Minister's conciliatory voice is not the only one to be heard in connection with the latest proposals for establishing home rule for Ulster. The rev, Ian Paisley, the militant Protestant leader who played a key role in blocking previous attempts to set up a power-sharing government in Ulster, has also become more conciliatory in recent months, going so far as to see "quite a bit" that is constructive in British Prime Minister Thatcher's plan for giving northern Ireland's Catholic minority some mechanism to appeal legislative decisions it finds discriminatory.
These signs of moderation could signal a new start toward finding some common meeting ground on which the Irish, the Ulstermen, and the British may be able to work out a solution to Northern Ireland's tragic divisions. Irish-Americans, meanwhile, would do well to listen to Prime Minister Haughey -- and give the cooperative approach a chance to work.