Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
St. Patrick's Day this year will be dominated by Irish politicians lobbying for protection for the thousands of illegal Irish aliens in the United States, a Northern Irish lawmaker predicted in Washington this week.
P.J. Bradley, a member of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, was a one-man advance party for political leaders from both the Republic of Ireland and British Northern Ireland who will converge here for a week of activities to celebrate the annual Irish festival.
At a Capitol Hill rally, Mr. Bradley praised a bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, to create a guest-worker program that could lead to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens in the United States.
"There is no doubt whatsoever that the McCain-Kennedy bill, which is our best and only hope of resolving this issue, is going to dominate the St. Patrick's Day events in the U.S. this year," Mr. Bradley said.
"I would appeal to all the Irish-Americans who have not yet got involved in the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform activity to do so now or we risk it falling in favor of bills that could criminalize our relatives, their families and connections. I hope that people at home will use their influence to persuade all Irish-Americans to rally to the cause."
The Irish government estimates the illegal Irish population at about 25,000, while some immigration reform groups say the number is more than 40,000.
Next week, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is due to meet with President Bush for their annual St. Patrick's Day visit. Peter Hain, Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Duncan Morrow of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, and Michael Wardlow of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education are expected to address the United States Institute of Peace.
The Ulster Unionist Party is sending party leader Reg Empey, Chairman David Campbell, President Dennis Rogan and Will Corry, the chief executive officer. …