Appropriate to recall US supporters of 1916, says Chief Justice

United Irishmen helped make their ideals part of US jurisprudence, says Susan Denham

Chief Justice  Susan Denham, in an address to the Ireland-US Council Spring Lunch on Friday afternoon,  recalled the ideals of the US Declaration of Independence - “a republic, independence, equality of man”. File photograph: Courts Collins

Chief Justice Susan Denham, in an address to the Ireland-US Council Spring Lunch on Friday afternoon, recalled the ideals of the US Declaration of Independence - “a republic, independence, equality of man”. File photograph: Courts Collins

 

Chief Justice Susan Denham has said it is “appropriate” to remember those in the US who “hatched plans and prepared for the rebellion” of 1916.

In an address to the Ireland-US Council Spring Lunch on Friday afternoon, Mrs Denham recalled the ideals of the US Declaration of Independence - “a republic, independence, equality of man”.

She said the ideals had inspired many Irish people and organisations who in return had made a critical contribution to the development of the US legal system.

Mrs Denham also noted the economic ties between Ireland and the US, and the “continued positive reform of the Irish courts system”, including the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal, which provided legal certainty “for the evolving demands of the corporate world”.

Referring to the the 1798 rebellion, she said members of the United Irishmen who had not succeeded in achieving their ideals in Ireland had helped those ideals become part of US jurisprudence.

Thomas Addis Emmet

She referred to Thomas Addis Emmet, brother of the executed Robert, who became attorney general of New York.

Thomas Addis Emmet had worked for concepts of freedom and equality, concepts which he and others argued in legal cases in US courts. “Through their legal victories they helped seed the American constitution with several constitutional concepts” she said.

Mrs Denham also recalled that the 1916 Proclamation recognised Ireland’s “exiled children in America”, one of whom was John Devoy.

She said Mr Devoy, as leader of Clan na Gael in the US, contributed considerable funds towards the Rising, while PH Pearse referred to him as “the greatest of Fenians”.

It was, in the centenary of the Rising, appropriate to remember their contribution, she said.

Five of the seven signatories to the Proclamation had spent time in the US, while over the last two centuries the Irish immigrant population had contributed justices of the United States Supreme Court.

US presidents with Irish roots had included presidents Jackson, McKinley, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama, she said.

The Ireland-US Council was founded in anticipation of the visit of president John F Kennedy 1963 and fosters business and cultural ties between Ireland and the US.