Irish American Information Service


09/02/04 11:57 EST

President George Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove, has invoked the wrath of Irish America by comparing the IRA to al-Qaeda.

During an interview with Associated Press about the war on international terrorism, Mr Rove said: "This is going to be more like the conflict in Northern Ireland, where the Brits fought terrorism, and there's no sort of peace accord with al-Qaeda saying, 'we surrender'."

Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus said the comments were a sign of the "anti- Irish Catholic elements in the Republican Party".

Fr. McManus said: "Karl Rove's recent statement comparing the IRA to al-Qaeda is, above all else, stupid, but it also may reveal the true colors of some anti-Irish Catholic elements in the Republican Party."

"While there has always been many fine leaders in the GOP (Republican Party) with excellent records on Irish affairs, there has also been - as a matter of historical fact - a strong anti-Irish Catholic element, the 'no Pope here', crowd," he said.

"President Bush must immediately repudiate Rove's anti-Irish Catholic bigotry."

UUP leader Mr David Trimble, who is attending the Republican National Convention in New York as a guest of the International Democrat Union, said he was confused by the comment.

"I'm not altogether clear about what exactly he's getting at," he said. "Al-Qaeda is quite a different terrorist organisation to those in Northern Ireland. It's perfectly reasonable, I suppose, to draw some parallel in that the war on terror will probably take a long time just like it did in Northern Ireland, if that's what he meant," he told the Washington Post.

A spokesman for Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry, rebuked Rove for the clumsy analogy.

"Karl Rove’s comments to AP today suggest there was no peace accord between the British and the IRA. We’d like to inform Mr. Rove that in April 1998, the Good Friday Agreement, negotiated by Senator George Mitchell, with the tireless assistance of President Clinton, was in fact a peace accord. Unfortunately these comments are very unhelpful to the current peace process and come on the very day critical talks designed to lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and a devolved government are commencing. I guess we now know why the president has failed to engage in the peace process for the last four years."

"This comment also demonstrates once again the Bush administration’s fundamental misunderstanding of the threat posed by al Qaeda and likeminded groups who seek to destroy our entire way of life. We deserve a leader who understands the threats we face and has a real strategy to fight them," the Kerry spokesperson said.

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