Cumann na Saoirse Náisíunta Statement

National Irish Freedom Committee
Cumann Na Saoirse Naisiunta

We, the members and supporters of Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta, are deeply saddened by the enormous loss of life and by the unimaginable hardship endured by the survivors of hurricane Katrina. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to those who lost loved ones and also to those who lost their homes, possessions and security, the fruits of their lifelong labors. May God have mercy on the souls of those who died, and care for and embrace those who survived.


Brian C Wardlow

Once, a home to Irish Immigrants escaping similar conditions during the great hunger in Ireland; an intriguing city rich in culture, history and mythology, has been reduced to devastation with an unknown future.

I had the opportunity to reside in this great city for almost a decade. I moved to New Orleans in 1993 to find an area in the Deep South that resembled my home in the northeast. My first bewilderment came when I spoke to my first New Orleanian; he spoke with an accent that resembled Jersey City/Brooklyn. I asked him what part of New York are you from? He replied with a stern, "New York! I'm from St. Bernard Parish!" An area devastated by Katrina. In the 17th century a section of Nova Scotia French Catholics that refused to bow to the British crown were exiled from Nova Scotia and settled in Louisiana brining with them their catholic beliefs. New Orleans is one of the few cities in the protestant dominated south that has a strong Catholic influence.

Being a history buff, and of Irish decent, I dove right into the Irish contribution to this intriguing city. Irish immigrants who escaped the torture of starvation in Ireland during the Great Hunger arrived in New Orleans at the same area as the people today who are experiencing similar circumstances outside the Morial Convention Center on the Mississippi River. Upon arrival the Irish were met by the Know Nothing Movement who saw to it that they didn't get to far from where they landed. The Irish found themselves competing with African slaves for work, which forced them to endure unthinkable conditions and low wages. Irish labor was responsible for the canals, railroads and wharfs that line the Mississippi River Today.

St. Bernard Parish which is just down river from New Orleans is home to Chalmette Battlefield, this is where Irish Andrew Jackson and his army of Irish immigrants, and pirates led by Jean Lafitte, defeated the British army in 1814. I lived in this area for four years and it has been devastated by this storm. The entire parish (county) is ten to fifteen feet under water. It is extremely hard for me to see the people who were so good to me suffer like this.

The human anguish that I have witnessed over the last six days has taken its toll on me. I am overwhelmed with grief to see the people of New Orleans, and surrounding parishes have to go through this avoidable tragedy. Nothing bothers me more than to hear, and see government officials - at all levels- say they didn't think this could happen. Their negligence spans more than just six or seven days.

The Bush administration and congress voted to cut the budget for hurricane and flood protection control in south east Louisiana. These programs carried out by the Army Corp of Engineers in south east Louisiana had to be shelved because of budget cuts, leaving the region exposed to the very danger that devastated the area six days ago. Not only was the protection of southeast Louisiana not a priority to our government, but neither were the lives of the thousands of victims of this avoidable tragedy. Government officials at all levels knew that Katrina was capable of bringing as much damage as a small nuclear bomb, and did nothing to prepare. The result is immense suffering and the loss of thousands of lives. Shame on you all.

National Irish Freedom Committee
Cumann Na Saoirse Naisiunta