No party for US Democrats during President Obama's visit
- 13 June 2013
- From the section Northern Ireland
The red carpet will be rolled out for Barack Obama when he visits Belfast and Fermanagh next week, but one of the president's ex-pat supporters thinks his US Democratic party is missing a trick.
Sean Hillen attended an event for the Irish US Democrats Abroad when President Obama visited Dublin two years ago, and he's disappointed that the group hasn't organized a similar bash for next week's visit north of the border.
According to the US Democrats Abroad website the organization is still looking for someone to co-ordinate its activities in Northern Ireland.
Mr Hillen reckons it's a shame the party hasn't got an active chapter in Belfast to capitalize on the president's visit.
The aptly named Rob Carolina from UK Democrats Abroad acknowledges they have just three chapters, in Oxford, Cambridge, and Scotland.
Mr Carolina says that whilst the Democrats have some members in Northern Ireland, they are "waiting for a core group of enthusiastic people…to step forward and volunteer to form a committee."
The UK Democrats Abroad said the president's G8 visit is "dedicated to statecraft not to political events" and there's nothing unusual about the fact they haven't organized a special party.
Mr Hillen isn't convinced, arguing that with millions of overseas American votes at stake it's "imperative that every effort is made to expand the Democrats Abroad base as much as possible."
Does this polite disagreement point to a divergence within Barack Obama's ex-pat supporters over whether Northern Ireland would be best looked after from Dublin or London?
If so, they wouldn't be the first political organization to struggle with such a dilemma - they could start by consulting supporters of the British and Irish Labour parties for guidance on how to spend years, if not decades, failing to find a satisfactory answer.