SDLP South Down veteran Assemblyman P J Bradley has retired from political life and his final gesture marking the occasion was in writing a letter to the world’s most powerful political leader, US President Barack Obama, about the plea of the undocumented Irish in the US.
The letter (printed below) was copied to the Irish Ambassador, Ireland Ambassador Dan Rooney, and to the US Consul General, Kamala Lakhdhir.
To President Barack Obama,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
The ‘Undocumented’ Irish in America.
Today, after thirty years in office, I retire from being a politician and this is my final letter written as an elected representative.
I was elected in 1998 to the Northern Ireland Assembly. This was a major step-up for me in the political world and was far removed from my work as a local government elected representative.
One of my main priorities when entering the NI Assembly was to lend support to local families that were forever concerned that their sons and daughters although living, working and paying their way in the United States, because of their undocumented status were considered by Homeland Security as being illegal immigrants.
I have attended mass rallies in Washington seeking immigration reform for the Irish. I did so because I could not accept the official line that the Irish cannot be treated in isolation. I put it to you Mr. President that America owes a great deal of gratitude to the Irish and the part they played during the past three centuries in building your great nation into what it is today.
I am pleased to learn that you plan to follow in the footsteps of many of your illustrious predecessors by visiting Ireland in May of this year. You can be certain that you will receive a genuine and warm-hearted Cead Mile Failte.
Visitors often like to present their host(s) with a memorable gift to mark the occasion of their visit. I am sure Mr. President that your intentions will be in keeping with the gift-giving trend when you visit our country. Presently I can think of no greater gift you could give to the Irish nation that of reinstating the freedom of movement that existed for centuries between our respective countries. Inward American investment has done a great deal for the Irish economy and as a direct descendant of an Irish immigrant to America you don’t need reminding of Ireland’s contribution to the United States.
In anticipation of you giving the matter your earnest attention and of your willingness to resolve the ‘Undocumented Irish’ situation I thank you.
P. J. Bradley.
Member of NI Legislative Assembly.