By: Tom O’Neill
My father, Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr., is famously quoted as saying “All politics is local.” He believed politicians must always be privy to the needs and plight of the people and to immerse themselves in the community they represent. Having been born in an area in North Cambridge, Massachusetts commonly referred to at that time as “Old Dublin,” the community my father grew up in and later represented in Congress was predominantly Irish. His roots defined him. During the conflict in Ireland my father felt a responsibility to aide in the peace process because “all politics is local” and those struggling in the North of Ireland were his people. This obligation and desire to assist the people of Northern Ireland during The Troubles was only furthered after meeting John Hume. My father had the utmost respect for John and often followed his lead when it came to developing a political strategy for peace in the North. In the late 60s, on his way to Boston and Washington DC to meet with influential Irish leaders at the invitation of my father, I had the privilege of meeting John. Since then, I have supported John and the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) by acting as a foreign agent and supporting their cause in the United States. To this day, John remains a dear friend of mine. My wife, Shelly, and I have formed a strong relationship with his wife, Pat and their wonderful children. Hume is an incredible man with an incredible story that I am proud to be part of telling.
This Thursday night, In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, a documentary directed by Maurice Fitzpatrick, premieres in the U.S. as the feature film of the Boston Film Festival. The film chronicles John Hume’s approach to politics in Northern Ireland and includes a wide-range of interviews with pivotal figures in Ireland’s fight for a peaceful resolution, such as President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, American legislators, and Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair who helped to wrest peace from war in Northern Ireland.
Tonight, Maurice and I will be guests on Nightside with Dan Rea on WBZ Radio to discuss the premiere. In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America premieres Thursday at 7pm followed by a panel discussion with MSNBC Hardball’s Chris Matthews, The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen and myself. I am very much looking forward to celebrating my friend John Hume and all he has done for Northern Ireland. I hope you will join me. Tickets to the Boston Film Festival can be purchased here.