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Padraig Harrington has to settle for a share of 8th place.

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

“I felt quite good,” Harrington said after Friday’s round. “When I got [the ball] in position, I hit a lot of really nice iron shots. I got a few breaks as well, during the round, which you generally always do when you shoot 65.
“Yeah, I’m definitely getting more comfortable with the golf course [Innisbrook in Tampa, Fla.]. But I also realize that, you know, obviously there will be two new pin positions Saturday and Sunday. So I will take kind of the attitude I’ve been taking for the first two days, which is fire away at [the pins] and not worry about it until I get up there. It has not cost me too badly so far.”
So far. Ah, if only this had been a 36-hole championship. Harrington had a different perspective the next day.
“It was a tough day,” Harrington said after Saturday’s round. “I wasn’t very coordinated today; struggled a bit. You know what, I fought hard on the back nine, created a lot of chances, didn’t hole the putts and that was a bit disappointing. But I was never a bit too sure of myself today.”
The lead that Harrington had taken onto the course Saturday – albeit only one stroke – was squandered, and he faced a 4-stroke gap between himself and new leader Jim Furyk. Harrington didn’t muster any sort of charge on Sunday and dropped seven strokes behind Furyk, the medalist, at the event’s end.
Harrington opened play on Thursday with 69, featuring an eagle-3 at the 11th hole. Whereas he’d done nothing spectacular on the front nine on Thursday (no birdies, no bogeys), he smoked it on Friday, carding five birdies against one bogey. He added two birdies on the backside for his 65 and sole possession of the lead.
A birdie at the first hole on Saturday bode well, but that would be the last stroke he’d trim off par until 16; in-between, he taken on a pair of bogeys. Furyk, playing one group ahead of Harrington and Carl Pettersson, could likewise only birdie the first hole; but he avoided Harrington’s miscues and played the rest of the frontside evenly, placing him a stroke ahead at the turn. That’s where he took off.
Furyk came up with birdies at 11, 12 and 15, while Harrington was mixing a birdie at 16 with a bogey at 18. Harrington never really got anything going on Sunday, either, combining four bogeys with only three birdies. Furyk, meanwhile, also stumbled his way to four bogeys on Sunday, but he filled in the gaps with six birdies and held on to defeat K.J. Choi by a stroke. Harrington settled for a share of eighth place, seven strokes behind Furyk.
EUROPEAN TOUR
Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin shared 10th place honors in the Troph

Big guns will come knocking for lone frontman Doyle: boss

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

The statistics show that Doyle managed six goals in his first 25 Premier League starts since moving to Moulineux. Ordinarily, these would be pretty mundane numbers for an experienced forward. If you watch how often Wolves play with him as the lone gunman however, that he has managed half a dozen strikes is nothing short of miraculous. Until Chris Iwelumo was introduced as a second striker in the 89th minute last Saturday, Doyle was bouncing off Richard Dunne and James Collins all afternoon long. He spent most of his time running into the right and left channels winning the ball and then holding it until his midfielders could push forward in support.
How is anybody expected to score regularly when their primary role involves winning free-kicks and competing for 50-50 balls with twin center-halves? It is a measure of Doyle’s development as a player that he has made such a good fist of this forlorn task that already the speculation has begun about which Premier League team will try to prise him away from Wolves this summer if his current employers are relegated. Even McCarthy can’t ignore the rumors and whispers about a possible move.
“If we go down, we have no chance of holding on to him,” said McCarthy the other week. “If we stay up, we might still have a problem because there will be a few interested. We have seen all the teams now and I’ve not noticed many better players than him. I’m not doing a selling job saying that because I’m not telling other managers anything they don’t know. He would not be out of place in the company of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.”
To this point, Doyle has certainly proved he was worth every penny that Wolves paid for him. It says much for the club’s fans that they know enough about the game to realize that, beyond a paltry goals tally, he has often been the team’s best performer in this campaign. Many of the message boards contain encomiums explaining just why he should be voted Wolves’ player of the year at season’s end. In an age when so many supporters are sunny-day types who glean their knowledge from highlight reels, the Wolves’ faithful are obviously a smart lot to acknowledge the difficulty of the job Doyle faces.
None of this is McCarthy’s fault either. In bringing Wolves into the top flight on the same shoe-string budget he used to promote Sunderland a few years back, he proved he has developed into a seriously impressive manager. Whether the club’s refusal to spend big to stay there was his decision or the owner’s is a moot point too. What matters is that he’s set out his stall tactically to try to avoid defeats and to, however possible, cling to their Premier League status without risking bankrupting the club. This makes them easy for the neutral to root for even if their quality suggests more a top-level championship team than anything else.
The lack-luster quality of the squad may also be a reason why Doyle leaves even if Wolves survive. Last summer when he was unveiled to the press, he told reporters he expected to be merely the first instance of big spending by the club. That’s not quite how things panned out. Since then, McCarthy has signed Andrew Surman, Ronald Zubar, Stefan Maierhofer. Greg Halford, Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Adiene Guedioura. Not only are they not names to conjure with or to excite fans, that sextet collectively cost less than the

Gabriel Byrne is Ireland’s cultural ambassador

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

“The honorary position of Cultural Ambassador has been introduced in order to enhance the involvement and impact of internationally renowned artists in the cultural promotion of Ireland. The appointee will assist the government in developing its vision for the promotion of Irish arts, culture and the creative industries internationally,” said an Irish government statement.
“Gabriel Byrne is an internationally renowned, award-winning actor and is already well established as one of Ireland’s great ambassadors through his work in film and theatre, as well as his endeavors behind the scenes in supporting and promoting Irish artists.
“The title of Cultural Ambassador is a formal recognition of his role and shows a willingness on both parts to harness the energy and goodwill for maximum effect,” said Minister Cullen in what was one of his last duties before resigning his post for health reasons.
In Washington, Cowen said that Byrne was already well established as one of Ireland’s great ambassadors through his work in film and theater, as well as behind the scenes in supporting and promoting Irish artists.

Kelly leads heroes

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Arguably, the parade was never in safer or more experienced hands.
As he himself pointed out more than once, Kelly is a veteran of Fifth Avenue on March 17th.
He has policed the parade, and has marched in it as police commissioner.
Being grand marshal then, was like green icing on a very big cake, one that Kelly ate up in block-long slices.
Perhaps Kelly had issued an order to the weather gods, or maybe it was just Kelly’s luck, but the parade was bathed in warm sunshine from start to finish as line after line of marchers, with Laois the leading county, proceeded northwards past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the reviewing stands to the finishing line at 86th Street.
And it was at St. Patrick’s that the day’s ceremonies began with Mass officiated for the first time on the patron saint’s day by Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
The archbishop is not apparently a nervous type, but he must have been a little edgy as the Mass starting time came and went with no sign of his number one congregant.
As it happened, and as reported in some detail the next morning by Michael Daly of the Daily News, Kelly is a man born to double duty, and then some. On his way to St. Patrick’s he had witnessed an accident in which a woman was knocked down and badly injured by a cyclist.
Kelly, in his grand marshal regalia, tended to the woman until an ambulance arrived.
By contrast, the later walk up the avenue was incident free. The crowds were big, enthusiastic and clearly liberated by the light and warmth on a day that just roared spring.
Again, as in recent years, it was not lost on spectators that we are a country at war and the cheers for the men and women in uniform were duly loud and sustained.
Shannon Schweitzer, named, she said, after the river, was especially cheering her two sons, Thomas and Patrick Adams.
“Thomas is a firefighter and Patrick is in the army,” said the Chicago-born Shannon proudly.
Patrick had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and could well end up in one or other place again, so Shannon was savoring every moment of having her two boys not just on American soil, but on the storied asphalt of Fifth Avenue with its painted green line.
As is always the case, the parade, this year dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America and with Irish government minister Barry Andrews as an honored guest, stepped off at precisely 11 a.m. And as is always the case, it looked incapable of starting just five minutes before that hour.
But there is method behind the apparent confusion and an enthusiasm that literally knows no bounds, chronological or otherwise.
So when the hour struck eleven, the Fighting 69th was already marching, a phalanx in camouflage fatigues striding to the strains of “Garryowen.”
Looking like he could, or should, be similarly attired, Ray Kelly waited in his top hat and tails. But no matter what the outfit or uniform, Kelly looks at home in the vanguard of a column.
And this was the ultimate column: Name: the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Rank: number one in the world. Serial number: 249.

Concern run for Haiti

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Runners and walkers are being asked to register and sign up sponsors for the four-mile event in Central Park on April 10. The race starts at 9.30 A.M.
“The story of the January 12 earthquake that hit the country has been fading from the headlines, but the needs on the ground remain enormous. The scale and complexity of the problems are overwhelming,” said Siobhan Walsh, Concern’s Executive Director.
“Seeing the chaos in one of the city’s many camps after a night of heavy rain was a hard, cold recognition of what a long road these people have ahead of them,” said Walsh, who just returned from spending several days in Port-au-Prince.
“Amidst all the tragedy,” she said, “what gives the local community and Concern staff hope are the Child Friendly Spaces we are setting up in the camps and in the slums. They provide a haven for children-they are the only places where I heard singing and laughter.”
Concern has opened three Child Friendly Spaces so far, and more are planned.
Concern has been active in Haiti since 1994 and has a current staff of almost 250, mostly Haitian nationals. Its emergency efforts focus on water and sanitation, health care-with special attention for malnourished children under five-shelter AND camp management, cash distributions and cash-for-work programs.
Full details on the fun run at www.concernusa.org.

Finucane portrait unveiled in D.C.

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Congressman Richard Neal was addressing over 100 members of Congress, Irish American leaders and civil rights campaigners from the North of Ireland gathered in the Capitol Building for the unveiling on Thursday.
“For more than twenty years, I have worked with my colleagues in the United States House of Representatives to campaign for the truth into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane,” Neal said.
“In 2006, on a bipartisan basis, we passed a resolution calling on the British government to hold an independent public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death. As our search for justice and accountability continues, I am honored to take part in this unveiling ceremony. This extraordinary portrait, seen here for the first time, will help keep Pat’s spirit and legacy alive for years to come.”
A senior Democrat, Rep. Neal also marveled at the influence of the Irish in Washington. In the past two weeks, President Obama, and former presidents Clinton and Bush, have engaged in the Irish peace process.
“What other country of six million people can boast of that type of strong relationship?” he asked.
Those views were echoed by Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, co-chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs.
He stressed that while Democrats and Republicans were divided on many issues, they were at one on the issue of exposing British government collusion in the 1989 assassination of Pat Finucane.
“The British government have good friends in this country, but on the issue of collusion, they have fallen way below the mark we expect of an ally,” he said.
Robert Ballagh, one of Ireland’s greatest portrait artists, said that his creation of the shattered image of Pat Finucane was a metaphor for Finucane’s violent death.
“In many ways, Pat Finucane was a hero and I don’t think we should ever forget our heroes,” Ballagh said.
Pat Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill, where she has campaigned for an independent, international enquiry into his murder, said the painting showed “something of beauty could come from a time of great sorrow.”
The painting was jointly unveiled by Reps. Neal and Smith. Among other members of Congress present were Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), and James McGovern (D-MA). Among prominent Irish Americans were Jack O’Brien, Keith Carney and Sean Pender of the AOH, Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, Kate McCabe and Mike Breen of the Irish American Unity Conference, and Al Nunan of the Irish American Business Association.
Representing the Irish government was Consul General Orla O’Hanrahan, while also attending was U.S. Consul General in Northern Ireland, Kamala Lakdhir.
Clara Reilly of Relatives for Justice and Monica McWilliams, CEO of the Human Rights Commission, in the U.S. to lobby for the North’s stalled human rights bill, were among the large delegation from Northern Ireland.
Commissioned by the Belfast Media Group (sister publisher to the Irish Echo) and Belfast art collector Paul Cooper, the Finucane portrait will now be displayed in the offices of Reps. Neal and Smith before it begins a nationwide tour of state offices, including the State House in Boston where Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty will exhibit the work in his office.

Liu hails MacBride win

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

“The New York City Pension Funds have once again used the leverage of their share ownership to successfully spur change in how companies conduct business in Northern Ireland,” Liu said.
“There is no place for discrimination of any sort in the workplace. By adopting the MacBride Principles, Art Technology has affirmed its commitment to promoting fair work practices. I look forward to working closely with the trustees of the (pension) systems in advocating for more companies to adopt these very important principles,” Liu added.
The resolution was filed in December, 2009 by Liu’s predecessor, Comptroller William Thompson, on behalf of the pension funds, and was officially withdrawn by Comptroller Liu after he was notified that Art Technology had agreed to adopt MacBride. Collectively, the New York City Pension Funds hold 721,464 shares of Art Technology Group common stock, valued at $3,123,939 (as of March 9, 2010).
The resolution called on Art Technology to adopt the anti-discrimination guidelines named in 1984 after the late Irish statesman, Nobel laureate, and founder of Amnesty International, Sean MacBride, to serve as benchmarks for U.S. corporations operating in Northern Ireland.
Over the past 18 years, the New York City Pension Funds have successfully reached MacBride-based agreements with 93 companies with facilities in the North.
The New York City Pension Funds are comprised of the New York Employees’ Retirement System, New York City Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System.

Capital basks on hectic St. Patrick’s Day

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

And on a St. Patrick’s Day when Washington basked under a warm spring sun, Cowen also filled the main guest slot at the Speaker’s Luncheon hosted by Nancy Pelosi and at a reception sponsored by the Irish Embassy.
But it was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, resplendent in a midnight blue gown and a matching pave diamond set of earrings and necklace, who offered a final coda to those here who worked for many years on the Northern Ireland peace process.
“Peace may be officially established by a vote or an agreement, but it is the real life experiences of people day after day and year after year that cement it,” Clinton told a packed audience at the American Ireland Fund dinner the night before St. Patrick’s Day.
Nodding his head in assent was her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“Peace has come once and for all to Northern Ireland,” Secretary Clinton declared after receiving the Fund’s annual award.
Cowen, meanwhile, had spent time in Chicago and California before making it to Washington. His ubiquitous theme: there are flexible workers looking for employment back in Ireland.
Cowen clearly has forged a genuine bond with President Obama as the two men spent time comparing economic woes their own domestic political difficulties during a private bilateral in the Oval Office.
“Certainly, in Ireland’s context, the resurgent U.S. economy will be a strong indicator of our return to prosperity,” Cowen told the president as the two men sat before the cameras with a strong early spring sun shinning through the floor to ceiling windows.
“Will you be going to Ireland, Mr. President?” this reporter asked on the Echo’s behalf.
“I would love to be going to Ireland,” President Obama replied with a full smile.
Having the Healthcare reform vote looming, just about anywhere might have been appealing to the man.
“We picked a quiet week to visit,” noted the Taoiseach dryly.
Also in Washington, North ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were recognized at all the various events for finishing the work on policing and justice.
At the start of the day, Vice President Joseph Biden had the Taoiseach and Mrs. Mary Cowen, along with some of the who’s who in Irish American Washington, over for a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the vice presidential home on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.
Biden, an enthusiastic endorser of all things Irish, paused in the festivities to recognize the widow and daughter of the late Edward Kennedy in attendance.
“It’s kind of strange to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without the patron saint of all of us,” he said.
The tribute to Kennedy was echoed by the president that evening at the White House reception attended by a number of family members including his widow, Vicki.
Sadness of Kennedy’s absence part, after a decade of efforts to end sectarian strife in a corner of an island across the Atlantic, 2010 proved to be the St. Patrick’s Day where attendees could truly celebrate achievement and heritage while hoping for an economic blossoming to match the daffodil and crocus clusters that added bursts of color amid Washington’s still winterized, brown grass.

McGuinness defends Robinson, accord

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister had a hugely significant vote in his political pocket, one that he was losing no opportunity to present as a major turning point in the drawn out peace process.
And in elevating the importance of the recent vote in favor of devolved policing and justice powers, McGuinness was also taking the opportunity to lavish praise on the role that Irish America has played in the political process that is underpinning the effort to secure a lasting peace.
Speaking to reporters in an interview in New York last Thursday, McGuinness said that there was a “very strong and very powerful” relationship between the Obama administration and political leaders in Northern Ireland.
In tandem with this, McGuinness asserted, the bonds between the Irish people and Irish America had never been stronger.
While there might be differing ideas on how best to proceed, he said he felt that “all the main sections of Irish America” were now united behind the peace process.
“The attention we get, not just on St. Patrick’s Day, but all year round, is testimony to those bonds,” McGuinness said.
The phone call made by former president Bush to (British Conservative Party leader) David Cameron, said McGuinness, had clearly showed that U.S. involvement was “not a charade or put-on” but a genuine and sincere commitment.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations had a lot to be proud of in the context of progress in recent years. America’s role, nevertheless, was changing, McGuinness opined.
This changing role had, he said, been best articulated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in saying that the focus of U.S. involvement, “at our request,” was shifting from the political to the economic.
“Peter and I had a tremendous conversation with Hillary Clinton,” said McGuinness.
Part of that conversation had focused on an extension for the International Fund for Ireland – due to sunset this year.
“Everybody needs to benefit from peace,” said McGuinness, who expressed the view that assistance from the IFI was still needed “in areas of deprivation and inequality” in the North.
Secretary Clinton, he said, had been “very supportive” in responding to his and First Minister Robinson’s pitch for an extended IFI and had promised to “talk to people.”
McGuinness added that there was “not a blade of grass” between himself and Robinson with regard to the necessity for tackling social disadvantage.
McGuinness was also effusive in his praise for the U.S. economic envoy to the North, Declan Kelly, who had “hit the ground running” and was busy making the case that the economic downturn actually made Northern Ireland a more attractive place for U.S. investment because of its comparatively low cost base.
This case would be presented again in the now planned one-day investment conference to take place in Washington in the fall.
Disputing the view that his relationship with Peter Robinson was not as close as that he enjoyed with Ian Paisley, McGuinness said he had been “hugely concerned” when Robinson’s recent family difficulties had emerged into public view.
“I don’t like to see any family go through difficulties,” said McGuinness. He said that he had been concerned for Robinson as a human being, and not just over any impact those difficulties might have posed for the political process.
While defending Robinson, McGuinness was less than praising in his views when it came to other North party leaders, specifically Ulster Unionist Party leader, Sir Reg Empey, and the SDLP’s recently elected leader, Margaret Ritchie, both of whom are ministers in the Executive headed by himself and Robinson.
The institutions of government had never collapsed since Sinn F

Irish Rail extends free travel to overseas seniors

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

“It certainly is a very good thing,” said the Rev. Colm Campbell, who has worked as a chaplain to older Irish emigrants in New York.
Visiting seniors can reserve free rail travel by going to www.discoverireland.com or by calling a local LoCall number to book a free Golden Trekker Ticket when in Ireland.
Irish Rail, which is also known as Iarnr

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