The British have no right to "occupy" Northern Ireland, U.S. Rep. Joseph ]Kennedy told a cheering crowd Saturday at the conclusion of his four-day visit to Ireland.
In response, Britain's energy secretary said Kennedy "should get back to Massachusetts as quickly as possible."The 35-year-old Massachusetts Democrat was speaking from the steps of the Wexford Municipal Hall, near his ancestral home in southeast Ireland, to several hundred local residents who had gathered to see him.
"The British have no right to occupy the north of Ireland," Kennedy said.
"The occupying forces are telling us what to do, what to eat, who to pray to, how to think."
Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy and nephew of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, drew more loud cheers when he said he couldn't visit the land of his roots without exploring the problems of Northern Ireland.
"You wouldn't be satisfied with me if I came here simply as a tourist," he said. "We all have brothers in the north, and they need our help and support."
Energy Secretary Cecil Parkinson objected to Kennedy's views and said on a British Broadcasting Corp. radio program that withdrawing British troops would result in further bloodshed.
"He should get back to Massachusetts as quickly as possible and I hope we never set eyes on him again," Parkinson said.