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Irish-Americans Outraged by Congressional Proposal to Kill Shareholders’ Resolutions

Plan would sabotage Mac Bride Principles

Submitted by: Irish National Caucus

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Socially Responsible Investing

Posted: Apr 18, 2017 – 12:15 PM EST


CAPITOL HILL, Apr. 18 /CSRwire/ - A Congressional move to, in effect, eliminate shareholders’ advocacy for worthy causes has caused outrage among Irish-Americans.

For many years, such advocacy—for social, governance, and environmental (ESG) concerns— was open to any group or person who owned $2,000 worth of shares for one year. But a new proposed bill before the House Financial Service Committee would rob the average American of this important right, placing it only in the hands of the mega-rich and billionaires. The radical change is being proposed by the Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). 

The President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus — which launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984 — has written to all 64 members of the Financial Service Committee condemning the proposal: “This would amount to a flagrant attack on America’s founding principle: ‘We the people.’ It would outrageously eliminate millions of citizens and the average American from having a say on the conduct of publicly held companies. The ordinary citizen, investor, consumer, and stakeholder is dismissed, leaving only the super- rich with any say. So, for example, this would mean that in order to submit a proposal to Wells Fargo one would have to own $2.5 billion in shares, whereas at present one only needs to have owned $2,000 worth of shares for one year.”

The Irish-born priest led the campaign to have the Mac Bride Principles—a corporate code of conduct for American companies doing business in Northern Ireland— enshrined into U.S. law in 1998.The Principles were passed twice by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed into U.S. law by Democratic President Clinton. Furthermore, 116 companies have agreed to implement the Mac Bride Principles, and the Principles have been passed into law by 18 States and numerous cities and towns.

Fr. Mc Manus reasons to the Financial Service Committee: “What American can possibly condone this? And what Member of Congress would vote for it— to take away the voice of the ordinary citizen, franchising only the mega- rich?  It is undemocratic, un-American and surely should be the third rail of American politics for all Members of Congress. This is an affront to all Americans. From a specifically Irish-American perspective, it would be the death-knell for the most effective campaign ever against Anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland: the Mac Bride Principles.”

Fr. Mc Manus also tells the Financial Service Committee: “Therefore, this terrible initiative is not only an attack on basic American values but it will be seen as an attempt to sabotage the Mac Bride Principles—which have played a key role in promoting equality and non-discrimination in employment in Northern Ireland, thereby making a vital contribution to the Irish peace process.

I am totally confident in saying that the Irish National Caucus is reflecting the opinion of the majority of concerned Irish-Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike— when I respectfully ask you to take a strong stand against this un-American attempt to silence the voices of ordinary American citizens.”

Fr. Mc Manus concludes his letter with, “Please respond promptly as we are publishing the position of all the Financial Service Committee members on this vital issue for Irish-Americans.”

For more information, please contact:

Sean McManus President
Phone: 202-544-0568
Barbara Flaherty Executive Vice President
Phone: 202-544-0568


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