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Boston scammer rips off Irish students

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Jim Smith

BOSTON – A brazen scam artist took exploitation of Irish students to a new level last week when he entered an apartment building in Brookline, found a set of keys to a vacant apartment, and ended up renting the apartment to three unsuspecting Irish students.

The bizarre chain of events began last Monday when George Moses, 25, of Cambridge allegedly told Jane Woodlock, Elizabeth Prior and Aoife O’Mahoney that he was an independent realtor and would sublease the vacant apartment to the students for the summer. The young women, here on a summer work visa, gave Moses $3,450 for the apartment later that day .

On Tuesday, the women returned from work to the apartment and discovered that their belongings had been removed by the building manager. When they learned that they were the victims of a cruel and costly hoax, the students contacted the Boston police.

Detectives Arthur O’Connell and Kevin Mullen of the Brighton station then devised a sting operation in which the women, all in their early 20s, contacted Moses on his cellular phone, asking him if he could find them a more suitable apartment. They agreed to give him an additional $750 for more desirable accommodations.

On Thursday, Moses was arrested at a street corner in Brighton while attempting to make the transaction with the students. On Friday, he was arraigned in Brighton District Court on charges of larceny over $250 and attempting to commit larceny. He is being held in jail on $30,000 cash bail set by Judge Albert Burns.

According to David Falcone of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Moses had 10 outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest last week. Those charges include forgery, writing bad checks, trespassing, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. He is due back in court at the end of July.

The students, who are reportedly reluctant to discuss their plight publicly, have been assisted by their friends and employers in obtaining housing and other forms of support.

In addition, the offices of the Irish Consulate in Boston and the Union of Students International Travel, which handles the J-1 visa program, are maintaining an active involvement in the case.

Feds to probe immigrant-exploitation claims

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Patrick Markey

Federal officials have opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations of exploitation surrounding the death of an Irish immigrant, Liam Mason, who was found hanged in a Bronx park last month.

Investigators from the US Department of Labor are looking into allegations that Mason was forced to work long hours for very little pay, and into the concerns about how employment practices may have contributed to the young man’s death, officials said.

Department of Labor officials are looking into the matter and communicating with other federal, state and local agencies and with worker organizations, David Saltz, a Department of Labor spokesman, said.

“There is a preliminary investigation to ascertain whether any labor violations have taken place because of allegations that these employees were not paid or not paid regularly,” said Dominick Denato, a wage and hour representative at the Department of Labor New Jersey office.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of New Jersey said the office would not confirm that any investigation was under way by their investigators.

Mason, 23, an immigrant from County Monaghan, hanged himself in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx four months after arriving in the United States. Friends of the dead man said he had been promised $600 to $1,000 a week to work on a New Jersey paving and cementing project by a man who recruited him in Ireland four months earlier.

After he and several other men were allegedly left without cash in their New Jersey motel, Mason stayed with friends from Monaghan in Yonkers. After a final failed attempt to get a flight home to Ireland, he returned from the airport to the Bronx, where he was found hanged from a tree branch two days later. Friends of Mason claim the subcontractor was Irish and was now back in Ireland.

Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, and Joe Jamison, director of the Irish American Labor Coalition, last week sent duplicate letters to federal officials urging them to investigate the allegations of exploitation. Last Friday in Washington, D.C., O’Dwyer and Jamison, along with other Irish American labor representatives, met with Marvin Krislov, solicitor for the Department of Labor, and John Frasier, acting administrator for the department’s wage and hour division.

Walter Kane, a representative of the Irish American Labor Coalition who also attended the meeting in Washington, said officials were also considering looking into how pervasive the problem of exploitation is in the Irish community. Department of Labor investigators were not concerned with the immigration status of victims, but rather in the labor regulations broken, he said.

Anyone with information on the Mason case or exploitation should contact Brian O’Dwyer at (212) 571-7100, Dominick Denato at the Department of Labor, District of New Jersey at (609) 989-2247 or the Irish American Labor Coalition at (212) 254-9271.

Bombing try by dissidents is foiled in London

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – A joint Irish-British police operation foiled an attempted incendiary bomb attack Thursday on leading stores in London by dissident republicans, the first time the British capital had been targeted by them.

Four people were arrested in Ireland and six in London, three of them carrying primed incendiary devices, according to Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist squad. Three men, ages 25, 21 and 19, and one woman, 21, were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to cause explosions. All but the oldest man were also charged with possession of explosive substances. They are to appear in Woolwich court today.

Gardai arrested a man and a woman in Dublin and two other men in Dundalk and Wexford.

The arrests were preceded by a search of a house in Dundalk that resulted in the seizure of documents, two shotguns, ammunition and a quantity of bomb-making components.

All those arrested in Ireland were released after being detained for questioning under the Offenses Against the State Act for two days.

Files in respect of three of them are being prepared for the director of public prosecutions.

A woman arrested in London was also released. Police in Britain can hold suspects for seven days without charge under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Security forces on both sides of the Irish Sea are concerned about cooperation between dissident groups since the Northern Ireland peace agreement in April.

The London bombing operation would have been their most ambitious move so far.

It is understood that some of those detained in London are students from universities in Dublin and Belfast who had traveled to London for summer jobs and had not been previously known to the security forces.

On April 2, a substantial car bomb was intercepted as it was about the board a ferry to Britain from Dun Laoghaire. It was believed to have been destined for the British Grand National race meeting at Aintree.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the work of the British and Irish security forces in foiling the bomb attack.

“This has clearly been a very important and successful operation and further reflects the close cooperation that exists between the security forces in the United Kingdom and Ireland as together we defeat terrorism wherever it may exist,” he said in a statement.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also congratulated the police and said the actions “provide further evidence of the extremely effective cooperation which is maintained between the security forces on both sides.”

A week of loyalist violence

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

The following are RUC statistics of Northern Ireland violence since the beginning of the Drumcree standoff on July 5 through Sunday:

Attacks on RUC/British Army: 598

Shooting incidents: 19

Bombing incidents: 44

Arrests: 254

Firebombs recovered by RUC: 2,237

Incidents of firebomb attacks: 621

Damage to homes: 137

Damage to other buildings: 155

Damage to vehicles: 453

RUC officers injured: 70

Number of plastic bullets fired: 751

Number of Catholic churches burned: 10

90 Catholic families forced from homes

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST – Ninety Catholic families were intimidated or burned out of their homes during the week, hundreds of RUC men were injured, and millions of pounds damage caused to tourism and the economy as Northern Ireland continues to reel from the Drumcree crisis.

Hundreds of Orangemen, meanwhile, remain encamped near Drumcree church in Portadown, protesting the Parades Commission decision to ban their annual march, which was to have been held almost two weeks ago.

As the Orangemen protest is joined nightly by thousands of their brethren, a low level of ethnic cleansing has been going on against vulnerable Catholic families, particularly in the eastern parts of Counties Antrim and Down, including Carrickfergus, Antrim town, Larne, Coleraine in County Derry and parts of Belfast.

One Catholic woman was forced to leave her home of 27 years after it was attacked by firebombs twice within a week. Protestant families who sheltered the Catholic neighbors were also intimidated and forced from home.

The village of Dunloy in County Antrim was besieged for a night by two thousand Orangemen who subsequently issued a military-style statement that they had “taken up positions” and “held” the village to show what they were capable of.

Local people armed with only hurley sticks were prepared to defend the area, but the Orangemen backed off when it became obvious villagers had been forewarned about their arrival.

Loyalists in both the UDA and UVF, the two main extreme Protestant paramilitary groups, were believed involved in widespread violence and intimidation during the week-long Drumcree siege. But they thrown themselves wholeheartedly behind the Orange protest, they would have brought Northern Ireland to a standstill, as they did in 1996, leading to a British government U-turn and forcing an Orange march down the Garvaghy Road.

It seems that although individuals were involved, the two main groups held back from outright participation in violence, for fear of losing their early prison release schemes.

The UDA is being blamed for gun attacks on members of the RUC in north and west Belfast, while the UVF was held responsible for a spate of blast bomb attacks at Drumcree and in Carrickfergus.

Every day of the week-long protest, hundreds of roads were blocked, with motorists advised to stay at home, cross-border trains canceled and no form of public transport in many areas after dark.

Mowlam threat

Neither group admitted breaking its cease-fire, with the Northern Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, threatening to postpone the prisoner-release schemes if they were proved to be involved.

The UDA, prompted by her warning, said any person found rioting would not be accepted onto its wings in the Maze jail, widely seen as an attempt to prevent its members being penalized for the violence.

The RUC-released film showing a gunman equipped with a long-barreled rifle firing at their lines under cover of darkness at Drumcree. The police also put on show catapults, lead weights, ball bearings and other missiles used against its members during the siege.

The UVF is the only group known to have pipe-bomb-making skills, and over 40 of these devices were hurled at the police and soldiers, night after night, in full view of international journalists and camera crews.

At no time, either day or night, was there any overt RUC or British Army presence at the Orange encampment. On Thursday, 20,000 Orangemen and supporters massed there from around County Antrim, the largest attendance of the week.

They crowded down at the 20-ft wide flooded trench, dug out by the British Army, yelling abuse and threats at police and soldiers. Shouts of “traitors,” “sell out to the IRA,” “cowards” and “you are no Ulstermen” are only the more repeatable.

On Thursday night, the sky was riven by huge blasts and at least four policemen were injured, one seriously. The following day more than 100 plastic bullets were fired to keep the Orangemen at bay.

Twenty people were taken to hospital with injuries, including a 21-year-old woman student who lost an eye. When hand-to-hand fighting broke out on the barricade blocking their path to Garvaghy Road, two arrests were made.

The Garvaghy Road resembled an armed camp, with long lines of massive British Army vehicles patrolling day and night and checkpoints at each end. Loyalists would sporadically mount roadblocks, preventing people getting to work or to shops.

U.S. observers

More than 50 U.S. and other international observers worked around the clock, equipped with two-way radio contacts, monitoring loyalist and police/army activity. The accents of Boston, New York and New Jersey, in particular, could be heard throughout the week.

The observers were lodged with local families and proved invaluable to the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Committee in providing a buffer zone of neutral witness – and calling for assistance at time of high tension.

David McNarry, a leading Orangeman and member of its Grand Lodge “strategy committee,” caused uproar when he claimed on British radio that the Order “if it had a mind to” could “paralyze” Northern Ireland within hours.

A convoy of 100 cars bringing food, diapers and provisions to Garvaghy Road was ambushed by loyalists close to Portadown and two women and a man injured when a cudgel was thrown through a car window.

RUC men and women who were recognized at the main battlefield in Drumcree were also targeted. A policewoman whose car was set on fire was forced to leave the home she’d lived in for 30 years in Carrickfergus.

New loyalist paramilitary groups, hitherto unknown, sprung up. they are mostly believed to be flags of convenience for loyalists who didn’t want to risk the prisoner release scheme.

There were claims by the “Ulster Loyalist Action Force,” the “Ulster Protestant Association” and the “Protestant Freedom Fighters” who are believed to exist in name only. The “Orange Volunteer Force” was also resurrected and is believed to be behind arson attacks on Catholic churches.

Lower Ormeau Orange march peaceful

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST – Black flags of mourning, black balloons and a somber, resentful silence awaited Orangemen as they crossed the River Lagan into the Nationalist Lower Ormeau Road district on Sunday, July 12.

Catholic residents had voted to stage a “peaceful dignified protest” on one side of the road only, without any attempt to block the parade’s path, as a gesture of respect to the three Quinn brothers, who were killed earlier in the day after a loyalist firebomb attack of their home in Ballymoney.

Heavy rain began pelting down as the Orangemen crossed the Lagan bridge into the area and continued as they marched down to Havelock Bridge, toward the Protestant Donegall Pass area.

Placards reading “March of Shame” were held up, and banners showing the Red Hand of Ulster symbol were pinned to buildings, bearing the caption: “The red hand of Ulster is dripping with innocent blood.”

Orange tunes were forbidden by the Parades Commission between the two bridges, but it did not escape the residents’ attention that at the very moment the first band reached the edge of the area, it struck up “The Sash” at full volume. The second band played “No Surrender,” also at full tilt.

The RUC had swamped the area 28 hours before the march was due to take place, only allowing residents through. There was great anger that, once again, residents were being hemmed in to facilitate an unwanted Orange parade.

After a meeting with local people, however, when assurances were given that no attempt to prevent the parade taking place were given, the blockade was lifted.

John Gormley, a spokesman for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community, said that their gesture was a “one off” in respect to the grief of the Quinn family, and was not a precedent for allowing the parade to proceed.

He said in the future, the LOCC would oppose parades that did not have the residents’ consent and once again called for dialogue between his group and the Orange Order, who refuse to meet them.

Gormley said he was proud of the people of the area for their forbearance and dignity in the face of Orange provocation and pledged to continue campaigning for dialogue during the year ahead.

A spokesman for the Orange Order in Ballynafeigh, which had been represented at the Drumcree standoff, said the Order fully intended to press for the right to march down the Lower Ormeau in future years.

Quinn brothers Mass at St. Teresa’s, Queens

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

The weekly Saturday evening Irish community Mass at St. Teresa’s Church in Sunnyside, Queens, will be dedicated this week to the three Quinn brothers. The Mass begins at 7:30. The church is at 44th Street and 50th Avenue.

Blood of Innocents

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Jack Holland

The deaths of the three young brothers, Richard, 11, Mark, 10, and Jason Quinn, 9, in Ballymoney at the weekend, the victims of a loyalist firebomb attack, have once more highlighted the fact that the children of the Troubles have too frequently been its most tragic victims.

They have died as the result of bombing attacks and ambushes, killed by plastic bullets during riots or when they got in the way of murderous attempts on their parents. Occasionally, they have been slaughtered with their parents: entire families have been wiped out.

One of the very first victims of the Troubles was 9-year-old Kevin Rooney, shot dead as he sat up in bed, disturbed by the riots that gripped the Falls Road area in the early hours of Aug. 15, 1969. A bullet from a heavy machine gun struck him in the head as the police peppered the walls of the Divis Flats. A few hours later, a loyalist sniper shot dead 15-year-old Gerard McAuley, a member of the IRA’s junior wing.

Unfortunately, they would not be the last children to die at the hands of adults making war. About 87 children under the age of 15 were murdered in the ensuing years. If the age limit is raised to 17, that number would more than double.

As the violence escalated throughout the early 1970s, so did the number of kids killed. Desmond Healey, a 14-year-old, was the first child to die in 1971, when British troops shot him in Lenadoon, West Belfast, during street disturbances that followed the introduction of internment on Aug. 9. Another four children under 15 died that year, including 1-year-old Angela Gallagher, shot dead in her carriage by an IRA sniper firing at a British patrol in West Belfast on Sept. 3. Two children, aged 14 and 13, were killed when a loyalist bomb wrecked McGurk’s Bar on Dec. 4. Exactly a week later, an IRA bomb on the loyalist Shankill Road claimed the lives of a 2-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy.

The worst year in the Troubles’ history, 1972, was also the worst in terms of the number of children who were killed. Seventeen were victims of the violence, including the youngest fatality, Alan Jack. On July 19, in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, an IRA car bomb claimed his life when he was only 5 months old.

1972 also saw one of the most brutal attacks against children. Members of the Ulster Defense Association left a car bomb near where two young girls, Paula Stronge, aged 6, and Claire Hughes, 4, were skipping on Halloween night, killing them both.

Most of the children who died violently were accidentally killed. But in January 1973, two children were deliberately murdered. On Jan. 29, UDA gunmen shot dead Peter Watterson, 15, as he stood outside his mother’s shop. A day later, they kidnapped 14-year-old Philip Rafferty, drove him to a lonely spot outside Belfast, and shot him in the head. The same year, the IRA “executed” a 15-year-old boy, Bernard Taggart, who they accused of being an informer.

In 1974, bombs wiped out two families. On Feb. 4, an IRA bomb exploded in a bus carrying British soldiers along the M62 in England. Among the dead where Lee Houghton, aged 5, her brother Robert, 2, and both parents. Four months later, loyalist car bombs in Dublin killed Jacqueline O’Brien, 17 months, and her 5-month-old sister, Anne Marie, along with both parents.

Street violence continued to claim children’s lives throughout the Troubles. On Aug. 30, 1975, a plastic bullet killed 10-year-old Stephen Geddis in the Divis Flats. He is one of seven children who lost their lives thanks to plastic bullets fired by the security forces.

In August 1976, the deaths of three children of the Maguire family – Joanne aged 9, John, 3, and Andrew, 6 months – gave birth to a short-lived peace movement. That same month, another family was wiped out. Loyalist firebombers claimed the life of 10-month-old Brigeen Dempsey and both her parents, as they would later claim the lives of the Quinn boys in Ballymoney.

The year 1976 proved one of the worst years in the Troubles for children, with 13 of them dying violently.

Indiscriminate attacks also continued to take their toll. On Oct. 26, 1989, IRA gunmen in West Germany riddled the car of RAF officer Maheshkumar Islania and killed his 6-month-old daughter, Islania. Three years later, in an attack on a betting shop on the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast, UDA gunmen murdered 15-year-old James Kennedy, along with four other Catholics. This was one of the incidents that finally convinced the British government to outlaw the UDA.

The following year, 1993, was the turning point of the Troubles, as it seemed possible that talks between John Hume and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams might bring about a rethink of the IRA’s commitment to violence. Four children were killed that year. IRA bombs in England killed Jonathan Ball, 3, and Tim Parry, 12. Loyalist gunmen murdered 15-year-old Brian Duffy. Leanne Murray, aged 13, died in an IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road that claimed eight other lives, including that of the bomber. She had just returned from a Project Children trip to the U.S.

Their deaths became a powerful incentive for all sides to bring the slaughter to a halt. Perhaps the deaths of the three Quinn brothers will have a similar, salutary effect.

GAA priest quits over Wexford ‘Full Monty’ benefit

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – A “Full Monty” strip show act in aid of charity at a County Wexford GAA hall has led to a full frontal row with a priest quitting as the club chaplain.

Copying the stars of the Oscar-nominated movie, five local men went “the whole way” at the Enniscorthy club, which had been rented for the charity function. It was all too much for Fr. John Carroll, who resigned.

The club chairman, TD John Browne, said the executive committee had received a request for the hall for a fun night to raise funds for cancer research at Dublin’s Crumlin Hospital for sick children.

“We gave it in good faith,” Browne said. “It was conveyed to the group on three or four occasions that the “Fully Monty” would not be acceptable, but it happened on the night.”

He said he had arrived after the stripping act and about 300 people were there. “I think about two people conveyed their objections to what happened and the rest of the people seemed to have enjoyed themselves,” he said.

“We regret the resignation of Fr. Carroll. We hope he will have a rethink and come back into the club. He is entitled to his opinion, but I think it was a bit over the top.”

Project Children kidsrelieved to be in U.S.

POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN Archive

Patrick Markey

Watching a baseball game between local New Jersey teams this week, 13-year-old Ryan Groves did not want to think about what was going on back home in Drumcree. A Catholic from the embattled area of Portadown, Groves would rather try to enjoy his second homestay trip to America, he said.

“I haven’t really thought about it, I’d rather not think about it,” Groves said by telephone from the Evison family home in New Jersey, where he was staying.

Groves is one of the 712 Northern Irish Catholic and Protestant children over in the United States with the Project Children, a program which brings the children over for six-week stays in American homes from New York to Montana.

As the children here entered into their second week of sampling American life, the three young brothers burned to death in an arson attack were buried near their home in Ballymoney. For the children visiting America, Project Children was a chance to put some of that violence behind them, at least for a while.

It was the fourth trip to America for 11-year-old Catherine Hillick, and she was looking forward to her first Mets baseball game. But the deaths of the three youngsters had its impact.

“I was glad I was over here, because I thought there might be trouble,” she said.

Belfast resident Deborah Kane, 12, was also anticipating her first trip to Disney World next month with the Driscoll family.

“I’m glad we’re here. It’s really sad. I’m glad to be away from all that trouble,” she said of the deaths, echoing the sentiments of other children here.

Through the movies, rollercoasters, trips and sports outings, that shadow of concern was not lost on the organizers.

“There’s a certain amount of worry when they see the television news,” Project Children founder Denis Mulcahy said. “But they’ve been back in touch with home. And they’ve busy schedules keeping them occupied.”

For Christine Markey, a 14-year-old from Glengormley, her fourth time in America still finds her thrilled at the size of New York City. It was a great change from Belfast and from the problems associated with life at home.

“I don’t really want to know, I’d rather just enjoy myself. I think most them are trying to enjoy themselves and forget,” she said of the other children.

Mulcahy started the program in 1975 with six kids. The project has brought more than 13,000 Northern Irish children to America since then, paying for the children’s airfare and insurance. Families pay for those costs if the children come back to stay with them a second time.

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