Gerry Adams is joined by internationally acclaimed actress Fionnoula Flanagan, Chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton, renowned Irish artist Robert Ballagh and noted Irish historian Ruan O'Donnell, head of the History Department of Limerick University.
This was an open forum to encourage dialog about how best to achieve a United Ireland. Members of the audience were encouraged to offer ideas.
Gerry Adams has been President of Sinn Fein since 1983. In 1987 he was instrumental in launching the party's current peace strategy with the publication of the discussion document Scenario for Peace. This was followed in 1992 with the document, Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland.
In 1993 it emerged that Gerry Adams had been holding a series of meetings with the leader of the SDLP, John Hume. From these meetings both leaders agreed a joint position which was to become the Irish Peace Initiative. Throughout the peace process he has worked side by side with Martin McGuinness and the Sinn Fein Leadership to advance the process and in our reach out to unionism. He is centrally involved in the ongoing development of the party as a radical alternative in Irish society.
He has traveled internationally to advance the peace process particularly in the United States. He has also campaigned on issues of human rights and justice, including the demand for the cancellation of world debt.
A member of PEN, the international guild of writers, Gerry Adams has published several books, including: A Pathway to Peace, The Politics of Irish Freedom and Selected Writings, his autobiography Before the Dawn, and An Irish Voice. His most recent book is Hope and History, Making Peace in Ireland.
Robert Ballagh is an Irish artist. He was born in Dublin and graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology. He is both a painter and designer. His painting style was strongly influenced by pop art and his paintings are often playful and didactic.
Among the theatre sets he has designed are sets for Riverdance, Samuel Beckett's Endgame (1991) and Oscar Wilde's Salom (1998). He has also designed over 70 Irish postage stamps and the last series of Irish banknotes, "Series C", before the introduction of the euro. He has also painted polemical murals in west Belfast.
In 1991, he co-ordinated the 75th anniversary commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. Interviewed for a special feature that was published in The Irish Times on the 90th anniversary, he related that this had caused him to be harassed by the Special Branch of the Garda Siochana. He is the President of the Irish Institute, which promotes international republicanism.
John Lowell Burton is the current Chairman of the California Democratic Party. He is served as a Democratic California State Senator from 1996 until 2004, representing the 3rd district. From 1998 - 2004, he served as the President pro tempore of the State Senate. Prior to his time in the Senate, he served in the California State Assembly from 1965 until 1974, and again from 1988 until 1996.
As a legislator, Burton was known for his successful efforts to pass the McBride Principles.
After leaving the Senate, Burton formed the John Burton Foundation, an organization that is "dedicated to improving the quality of life for California's homeless children and developing policy solutions to prevent homelessness." In February 2007 he was appointed board member of the University of Phoenix.
On April 26, 2009, it was announced that Burton had won the election for chair of the California Democratic Party, succeeding Art Torres.
Burton is a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Fionnula Flanagan was born in Dublin. She grew up speaking both Irish and English fluently. She trained at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and travelled throughout Europe before settling in Los Angeles in 1968.
Fionnula appeared with Helen Mirren in Some Mother's Son, written and directed by Terry George, as the militantly supportive mother of a Provisional Irish Republican Army hunger striker in 1981. Subsequently, she spoke at a memorial hosted by Sinn Fein at the Citywest Building in Dublin for Irish republicans and their kin who were killed during the latest installment of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
She is married to the well known Irish Nationalist Dr. Garrett O'Connor.
Ruan O'Donnell is the Head of the History Department of Limerick University. He is a well-known Irish writer and academic, and the official historian of The Robert Emmet Association.
He has had several books on Irish Republican History published. Among his many works are:
Robert Emmet, Brien Pocket History of the Famine Ballads and Poems of the Wicklow Rebellion, and 1798 and Marked for Botany Bay: The Wicklow United Irishmen and the Development of Political Transportation from Ireland, 1791-1806.
Pat Uniacke is a former president of the North American Gaelic Athletic Association.