Photo by Charles Wainwright

James T. Walsh


Day in a Life
Hancock Field
Irish Affairs
Onondaga Lake
The Collection
SBU Archives

Irish Affairs


Congressman James T. Walsh was Chairman of the bi-partisan Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs.  During 1990's Congressman Walsh was in contact with President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister John Major, and other influential political leaders who were involved in the on-going peace process in Northern Ireland.

Walsh supported permanent peace and an immediate end to the violence against Irish-Catholic communities done by the majority Protestant communities in Northern Ireland; Walsh was an Irish Catholic himself.  Below is a brief history of the Catholic Protestant conflict, an introduction to the Walsh Visa, as well as a few of the letters contained in the James T. Walsh Archives supporting the peace effort.

  A Brief History surrounding the Protestant Catholic conflicts in Ireland

The conflict between Irish-Catholics and Protestant-Catholics came from the difference of opinion as to what involvement the British should have in Ireland.  Irish Catholics, who were mostly located in southern Ireland, wanted complete control of an Ireland free from all British interference.  Irish Protestants in the northern part of Ireland  were in favor of limited British control fearing life in a country with a Catholic majority.

Throughout the Twentieth Century there were violent outbreaks between the two parties.  In 1922 the southern colonies of Ireland became independent and the northern colonies of Ulster remained under British control as the protestants were the majority of the population.  However, inter-religious violence continued in the north.  Various peace initiatives were on-going to come to a solution in Northern Ireland.  This was an important foreign affairs issue during the Clinton Administration.  A number of political figures such as George Mitchell, who mediated the peace meetings, and James Walsh, who's Walsh Visa aimed at helping the youth in Ireland to mold them into conscious participating citizens, became well known for their efforts.  The peace process resulted in an historic landmark agreement known as the Good Friday Agreement.  It included assurances that all communities would participate in the governing of the north, called for an end to territorial claims by the Republic of Ireland in the north, and established cooperative organizations including the north and south and the Great Britain and Ireland.

The Walsh Visa

The Walsh Visa program is also known as the Irish Peace Program.  The goal is to build upon and create a program meaningful employment experiences enriched by a holistic approach to ensure a successful model for training, cultural, social, and educational experiences for the participants in this program.

The Walsh Visa Pioneer was a newsletter concerned with updating people about the status of the program in various regions where it was being implemented

"A program designed to help these young people develop job skills and conflict resolution abilities, so they can better contribute to the economic regeneration of their home countries and their establishment of lasting peace."

-U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman.  "First 'Walsh Visa' Recipients Arrive in U.S. for Job Training Designed to Support Northern Ireland Peace Process."  March 29, 2000.  #2000

Archive Highlights

This is a sample of the letters contained in the Walsh Archives, between Congressman Walsh and influential political figures of the time, concerning the on-going goal of Peace in Northern Ireland and the progress being made.  

bulletJuly 24, 1996
bulletLetter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher from Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman Committee on International Relations and Christopher H. Smith, Chairman Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights.
bullet Subject Matter:  The Violence in Northern Ireland against some Catholic minority communities.
bullet July 23, 1996
bulletLetter to the Right Honorable John Major, Prime Minister, the British Embassy, from members of the House of Representatives, John T. Walsh signed off.
bullet Subject Matter:  Writing to express deep concern over the violence in Northern Ireland and the peace progress.
bullet July 26, 1996
bulletLetter to Congressman James T. Walsh from John Kerr, Ambassador to the British Embassy.
bullet Subject Matter:  Writing on behalf of the Prime Minister of Great Britain concerning the peace efforts in Northern Ireland.
bulletJuly 21, 1995
bulletLetter to John Simmons from Edward Kennedy, with the support of Congressman Walsh.
bullet Subject Matter:  This is a letter urging Simmons to sign a letter to Newt Gingrich asking him to invite Irish President Mary Robinson to Congress.
bulletMay 5, 1995
bulletLetter To John Simmons from Brian O'Connor, Joe Kennedy and Representative Walsh.
bullet Subject Matter:  Letter concerning the US Ireland Technology Fund.
bullet January 20, 1995
bulletLetter from President Bill Clinton to Congressman Walsh.
bullet Subject Matter:  Clinton responding to a previous letter from Walsh addressing the peace process in Northern Ireland.
bulletNovember 16, 1995
bulletLetter from the leaders of the bi-partisan Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, including Chairman of the committee, James Walsh, to President Bill Clinton.
bullet Subject Matter:  Letter concerning the stalemate in the peace process in Northern Ireland and the opportunity for President Clinton to help contribute to the peace process in his upcoming trip to Great Britain.

Created by Matt Agan for History 419


Archives Index Page