Relatives for Justice CEO Mark Thompson will be back in the area on Sunday, Nov. 17, for the Philadelphia Ancient Order of Hibernians/Ladies AOH’s seventh annual Freedom for All Ireland fundraiser.
The event is set for 1 to 5 p.m. at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5’s Heroes Ballroom, 11630 Caroline Road.
The afternoon will feature an address by Thompson, co-founder of Relatives for Justice, a professional human rights, advocacy and support organization for victims and survivors of conflict. He also works to hold those responsible to account, speaking in front of Congress, the United Nations and the governments in both Britain and Ireland.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle will be honored for demanding protection for the Good Friday Agreement, a peace agreement among the British and Irish governments and political parties in Northern Ireland, once a Brexit deal passes.
“That has to be at all costs protected,” Thompson said of the Good Friday Agreement.
Boyle will also be recognized for his opposition to the return of a “hard border,” which was eliminated as part of the Good Friday Agreement. He is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles trade agreements, and has made clear that no U.S./England trade deals will be passed unless the open border remains.
Thompson was in the Philadelphia area in June to help promote a book written by Mark McGovern that they say shows Britain armed, directed, paid and protected loyalist agents to carry out murders and jailings in parts of Northern Ireland during The Troubles, fighting that took place in the late 20th century.
Britain denied blame, but Thompson and others say there is evidence of collusion, and they want accountability. The victims of the British soldiers, they say, included Catholic women, children, priests and unarmed citizens.
Thompson thanked Martin Galvin, chairman of the AOH’s Freedom for All, for bringing him to the United States to spread his message. He is also indebted to the AOH and LAOH for their financial support and creating awareness among other Irish-Americans. And he singled out Boyle and fellow Ways and Means Committee member Richard Neal and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel for their support, along with the Brehon Law Society and the Irish American Unity Conference.
“As Bobby Sands (leader of the 1981 IRA hunger strikes) famously wrote and said, ‘Everyone has their part to play. No part is too big and no part is too small,’ ” Thompson said of his group’s American backing.
Thompson said he is looking forward to Sunday’s event at the FOP because it will show that Irish-Americans are engaged, not mere spectators, in the fight for Ireland’s unification.
“We will get there,” he said.
Tickets cost $35, which includes live Irish music, draft beer, soda and a buffet. All proceeds will benefit AOH/LAOH Freedom for All Ireland charities.
For more information, call Pearse Kerr at 267-253-9001 or Gerry McHale at 267-767-7854. ••