Congressman Brian Higgins and members of the Western New York Irish Community welcomed Irish Leader Martin Ferris to Buffalo, NY. Teachta Dála (TD) Ferris is a member of the Dáil Eireann; the lower House but principal Chamber of the Irish Government and a member of Ireland’s Sinn Féin political party.
“We are pleased to welcome my friend and counterpart in government Martin Ferris to the good City of Buffalo which is home to a proud Irish-American population,” said Higgins. “As a member of Congress, active in the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, I’ve enjoyed regular meetings with Sinn Féin leadership as we work jointly to promote a continued, strong bi-national bond and friendship between the United States and Ireland, supported by open communication between our governments.”
Rep. Higgins serves on the House of Representatives Committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security. In 2006, as a member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, Congressman Higgins visited Ireland and met with Sinn Féin leaders during the critical Northern Ireland Peace process. Ferris was part of the Sinn Féin negotiating team in the lead up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and he has travelled extensively in support of the peace process and Irish Unity.
During the visit to Buffalo, New York, TD Ferris and Rep. Higgins joined local Irish American leaders at the recently erected Fenian Monument that sits along the water at the edge of the Niagara River separating the U.S. and Canada. In 1866, between 500‐800 members of the Fenian Brotherhood, a group of Irish Americans, gathered in the Old First Ward, and on June 1, they launched their invasion of Canada from the Pratt Iron Works, which is now known as Tow Path Park, on a mission to take Canada from Great Britain in an effort to secure Irish Independence. The Fenian Invasion is credited with helping build momentum toward Canada’s independence from Britain which occurred in 1867 and Irish freedom which was achieved in 1922.
The monument was made possible thanks to the leadership of New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, who spearheaded an effort and formed a committee to promote awareness of the impact of the Fenian Invasion had on the histories of Buffalo, Canada and Ireland. Construction of the monument was supported by the Niagara Greenway Commission, which receives funding through the New York Power Authority (NYPA) relicensing settlement agreement.
“We welcome Martin Ferris with excitement to share our region’s rich Irish-American history,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “The Fenian monument marks a pivotal moment in the history of three nations and celebrates one of the many contributions Buffalo and Western New York have made to the global community. When they launched their mission from the shores of the Niagara River, the Fenian Brotherhood – a group of battle-hardened American Veterans who protected our union in the Civil War – set Canada along the path to independence and inspired freedom in their home country of Ireland. I thank Congressman Higgins and TD Ferris for their leadership and ongoing service to their nations.”
Ferris represents Kerry County, the area from which Rep. Higgins’ ancestors derived. Prior to his first election to the Dail in 2002, Ferris served on the Kerry County Council and Tralee Town Council. He and his wife Marie live in Ardfert village and have six children including a daughter Toireasa, a Sinn Féin Councillor on Tralee Town and Kerry County Council and the former Mayor of Kerry.
"I would like to extend a warm welcome to Martin Ferris on behalf of the City of Buffalo, which has been a home away from home for the Irish for more than a century," said Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder. "It is fitting to welcome him at the Fenian Monument, a tribute to the deep connection between Buffalo and the Emerald Isle."
Early in his life, Ferris had an active career in Gaelic Football, winning national championships as a young man. A farmer and fisherman by trade, today Ferris serves as the Sinn Fein spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Marine and Natural Resources and Workers Rights.
In 2008 Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams joined Congressman Higgins for St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Buffalo. Sinn Fein is the oldest political movement in Ireland. It takes its name from the Irish Gaelic expression for “We Ourselves.”