Dear Joe Kennedy: Greater love hath no man than to make political capital out of his brother-in-law's appeal case. But you should never have come to Belfast

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When your Uncle Jack was thinking of going to Ireland in June 1963 his aides in the White House tried to persuade him not to because it would look like a family trip when greater things were at stake, like German backsliding from the Western alliance and French nationalism. The aides did not want anything to detract from the seriousness of the other issues. Your uncle rebuked his courtiers: 'I am the President of the United States, not you. When I say I want to go to Ireland, it means that I'm going to Ireland. Make the arrangements.' As expected it was a jolly visit, tea with cousins, that sort of thing.

Now, I don't know what your aides told you before you decided to go to Belfast to attend the appeal of Paul Hill, the newly adopted member of your clan, but they should have said: 'Don't go, Mr Congressman, this is a very tricky time in US-British relations and there are grand visions at stake like the possibility of peace in Ireland. Too many people in Britain see you as an interfering little rich kid.'

I don't want to belittle the gravity of the charge Mr Hill is appealing against - the murder of a former British soldier - nor dim the spotlight on the possibility of yet another miscarriage of justice - the contention that Mr Hill's 'confession' of involvement in the murder was extracted under threats and assaults from the police. Nor do I wish to deny you, or your family's, voice in civil rights. The island Briton gets pretty hysterical about the meddlesome foreigner. And America's voice in the future of Ireland, of which you are a part, is too important to be spoilt in any way by a family affair, which this appeal has now become by virtue of the presence of so many members of your clan descending on Belfast.

A few weeks ago, President Clinton played what may turn out to have been a key role in Ireland's future, North and South. He made the British government's censorship of Gerry Adams look totally absurd by granting Mr Adams a visa. From the visit both Mr Adams and the British government learnt a good lesson in the art of the possible.

As you know well, Mr Clinton granted the visa after persuasive counsel from a number of wise Irish-American politicians, including your Uncle Ted. When Gerry Adams was in New York your Uncle Ted stayed away, despite his key role. He is after all a member of the US government. So are you.

The Hill appeal may last three weeks. It would be best for all concerned if you would kindly lower your profile in Belfast. And, before you go, leave word with your womenfolk about how critical is the hour for the future of the old sod itself - as well as for the clan's adopted son.

(Photograph omitted)