Irish taxpayers, who now find themselves the lender of last resort, bankers to the bankers if you will, got an inkling Tuesday when Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan announced in the D_il the first acquisition of toxic loans to be taken up by the government-created National Assets Management Agency.
NAMA, as it is known, will acquire more than 1,200 property loans with a value of
That legislation was seen as an obstacle to just about every other legislative initiative but in its aftermath both President Obama and congressional Democrats appeared to draw renewed strength on other issues, not least comprehensive immigration reform.
“Disengagement doesn’t help the American people,” Congressman Joe Crowley, who had traveled to Haiti to see earthquake recovery work at first hand, said of reform in a phone interview with the Echo.
Crowley predicted that there would be hurdles in the way of reform beyond just party rhetoric. He said he was concerned that a future Senate bill – and the Senate is expected to take up the issue before the House of Representatives – might emphasize more of the punitive and security issues involved in immigration reform and do little to address the “human element.”
In this regard, Crowley was referring to the plight of millions of illegal and undocumented, including thousands of Irish.
The pressures brought to bear from all angles with regard to immigration reform would be “unbelievable,” said Crowley.
The stalled reform effort was given a shot in the arm during the recent St. Patrick’s Day festivities. President reiterated his “unwavering” support for immigration reform, but little has been achieved during Mr. Obama’s time in office to move reform forward.
“Immigration’s tough, you don’t have to ask anyone other than me to tell you that. It’s a tough heavy lift,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during his appearance on “Meet the Press” last weekend.
Graham and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) have put together a framework for an immigration reform measure that they hope will lead to a Senate bill on which to debate the issue.
President Obama released a statement praising the framework.
“It thoughtfully addresses the need to shore up our borders, and demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and employers who game the system,” Obama said.
Graham, a conservative Republican leader who threatened to walk away from any immigration reform effort if health care legislation was passed, has backed off from that earlier threat. But he has also lashed out against President Obama and Democrats for doing nothing on immigration.
“If a moderate Democrat got a phone call from the president, he wants you to come down to the White House and help him with immigration now, most of them would jump out the window,” said Graham.
The House of Representatives already has legislation on immigration reform, and one of the Democratic authors of the bill, Congressman Crowley, said he would gladly welcome a call from the Oval Office on the topic.
Getting health care reform passed was huge for Obama, for the Democrats, but now it’s time for the president to “bite off another big one,” Crowley said in his exchange with the Echo.
Even while the final element of the health care reform legislation was being completed during an unusual weekend session, just steps away from the congressional chambers thousands in Washington rallying for immigration reform in what was dubbed the “March for America.”
Rep. Crowley, addressed the crowd, noting that all four of his grandparents emigrated from Ireland to the U.S.
The Western Development Commission, however, argues further that the region has it all. That was the message that the agency’s Lisa McAllister and Joanne Grehan brought to Philadelphia and New York recently.
The West in this context means the five Connacht counties — Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo — together with Clare and Donegal. “Costs are cheaper, labor is cheaper and it’s a very competitive location for business,” said McAllister, the WDC’s chief executive officer.
If you take into account the general advantages of having a base in Ireland — its membership of the European Union, the fact that English is the main language of commerce and its competitive corporate tax rates — then, the WDC’s officials argued, the West offers the best value for money for companies wishing to expand beyond the United States. Its high-skilled economy is aided, too, by the 14 colleges and universities in the region.
The West has developed certain reputation in the area of the medical device sector. But it is also become a center for information and communication technologies as well as the audio-visual industry.
The region is adaptable with regard to languages, too. “The call center activity is testament to that,” McAllister said.
“One of our objectives is to tell people that the West is a great place to live, work and do business in,” said Grehan, the regional executive director.
The agency, which has a staff of 14 at offices in Ballaghderreen, Co. Roscommon, works from the assumption that moving to its region can be as much a personal decision as a business one.
“We’re very realistic. It’s a big decision to move to a new location,” she added. “We work hard to engage people at their level.”
Lower property prices is one reason why people do go the region that stretches from the Errigal Mountain to the Cliffs of Moher and from the Atlantic Ocean to the River Shannon. The average 3-bedroom semi-detached home in County Roscommon is, at
Coupled with this there are the widespread cases of church authorities covering up the activities of pedophile priests, this spurred by the self-imposed priority of avoiding public scandal.
Scandal is scandal, whether it is seen or not and it was, to say the least, na
Noticeably absent from the 83rd annual Gloves tournament was another Dublin native, three-time women’s 106-pound champion “Ruthless” Ruth O’Sullivan, who withdrew before the preliminaries because of injury.
Hardwick, who at 25 was seven years older than Newman, went one better than past finalists Alo Kelly, a five-time All-Irish champion from Westmeath, and Limerick transplant Don O’Regan. Both light heavyweights, Kelly and O’Regan finished second in 1998 and 2005, respectively.
A bricklayer representing Yonkers YMCA, Hardwick applied incessant pressure on his lanky southpaw foe to earn the nod after three rounds. Newman had John Duddy trainer Harry Keitt were in his corner.
There were few clean and consistent connects, but Hardwick easily outworked his man. The most competitive round was the last in which the two fighters exchanged shots wildly.
“It was very hard,” the victor said. “He’s fit and he’s got the long reach as well. I was trying to counter his jab.”
On how it felt defeating a man coached by Duddy’s trainer, Harwick, now 5-0, said: “I thought he was well prepared [and] he was definitely here to fight. I take my hat off to him.”
He dedicated the victory to his friend Warren O’Connor, who was murdered in Dublin last January.
“Warren was inspiring me in the first, second and third rounds. He’s inspired me the last eights weeks. I dedicate all this to him,” he said.
Asked if he’ll enter the Gloves again next year, Hardwick, in the United States for the past year, gave an emphatic response: “Definitely! Definitely!”
Trainer Richie Sampogna, one of three coaches that work with Hardwick in Yonkers, spoke glowingly of his charge. “Tom is a workhorse; it’s a pleasure to work with him. He loves to train and a coach can’t ask for anything more. He gives 110 percent everyday and it shows in [fights].”
Arthur Williams and Jim Howard, the latter a former amateur standout who had wins in the unpaid ranks over two of Muhammad Ali’s toughest opponents, Jimmy Young and Ken Norton, are Hardwick’s other trainers.
Touted as the world’s oldest and largest amateur boxing competition, The Daily News Golden Gloves has been the launching pad for many professionals, including world champions Emile Griffith, Jose Torres, Floyd Patterson and Riddick Bowe.
At the moment, I am spending my days reading about the history of the Irish in New York and conducting research. I meet with people on a regular basis who are part of the Irish community in New York. Some are very connected and involved with all aspects of the Irish scene here, while others only drop into the Irish circle at this time of year. I am writing a book (Ph.D) regarding the different ways in which the Irish-born Irish and American-born Irish express their Irishness throughout the five boroughs, from hanging flags and displaying shamrocks outside apartments and houses, giving children Irish names, researching both their family’s history and Ireland’s history, taking annual trips to Ireland, joining Irish clubs and organizations such as county organizations, the GAA, Comhaltas Ceolt
Tipperary-born Deirdre Scanlan, Casey’s successor as Solas’s lead vocalist, also sang conscience-pricking songs, such as Antje Duvekot’s “Black Annis” and Tom Waits’s “Georgia Lee,” each about a cruel loss of innocence by a child or adolescent preyed on or neglected by adults. Though these two songs deftly employ metaphor and poetic obliqueness to avoid blunt, balky editorializing, they are nevertheless meant to prod the apathetic, the complacent, and the timorous.
On Solas’s new album “The Turning Tide,” Kilkenny native Mairead Phelan, the band’s current lead vocalist, sings three songs of indignation or outrage partly expressed through biblical imagery and references.
Nowhere is that more powerfully in evidence than in “Sorry,” composed by Scottish singer Karine Polwart. The album’s most assured song interpretation by Phelan, it contains this indicting chorus: “For you may lay down your guilt on the altar / You may nail your remorse to the cross / But it’s not enough these days to say sorry / No, sorry won’t pay for this loss.” Other references to “blood on your hands” and “confess to the crime” suggest a retrial and recrucifixion of Christ by those charged with conveying his precepts but willfully ignoring them themselves. This song takes on greater pertinence and stokes greater anger in light of new revelations about child abuse, negligent oversight, and cover-up in the Catholic Church. Probably prompting the album’s title is this line: “No, sorry won’t turn back the tide.” Solas and, in particular, Phelan invest this song with the unflinching, quietly building fervor it deserves.
In his intriguingly allusive song “A Girl in the War,” Josh Ritter uses two biblical characters, the apostles Peter and Paul, to discuss the suspension of the gospel and its rules in time of war. Clever wordplay surfaces when Paul tells Peter to “rock yourself a little harder” (“Peter” comes from the Latin word “petra,” meaning rock) and “pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire,” a line urging more action and less talk. A menacing dragon and flaming feet may be the only way to get Peter–and us–moving. Folded within that plea to overcome paralytic helplessness is a love story with political implications: “I gotta girl in the war, man, I wonder what it is we done.” This is a call to action song without bullhorn browbeating, and Phelan’s breathy, whispered, low-register singing style suits the temper of the lyrics.
The one song interpretation that does not work on the album is “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Composer Bruce Springsteen took his inspiration from John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and John Ford’s equally classic 1940 film of it, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. This song also carries a biblical reference: “Waitin’ for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” But the soul-suffocating struggle described in Springsteen’s song, linking Dust Bowl-era hardship with more recent economic distress (“Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner / Welcome to the new world order”), gets glossed in Phelan’s airily delivered vocal and lost in relatively dense instrumentation.
The album’s other songs are Richard Thompson’s “The Ditching Boy” (“The Poor Ditching Boy” was the full title on Thompson’s 1972 album “Henry the Human Fly”), “A Sailor’s Life” (found on “Unhalfbricking,” the 1969 album by Fairport Convention, featuring Richard Thompson), and “Sadhbh Ni Bhruineallaigh,” a humorous song in Irish about a boatman asking a young woman to elope with him that was previously recorded by Galway singers Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola and Joe Heaney. All are ably sung by Phelan with stout support from her bandmates.
Instrumentally, Solas still performs with astonishing skill and imagination. The album-opening “Hugo’s Big Reel,” composed by Seamus Egan, reminds us that the band has preciously few peers in unpacking a melody. Egan on nylon guitar, tenor banjo, flute, whistles, mandolin, and bodhran, Winifred Horan on fiddle, Mick McAuley on button accordion, and Eamon McElholm on guitar and piano constitute a tuneful tour de force. Originality is the common thread in McElhom’s inventive “The Crows of Killimer / Box Reel #2 / Boys of Malin / The Opera House,” Horan’s swinging “A Waltz for Mairead” that features a tight interlacing of fiddle and mandolin, McAuley’s stirring “Trip to Kareol,” and two more Egan tunes, the percussive “Grady Fernando Comes to Town” and the contemplative “A Tune for Roan.”
In many ways, this is a bold, even courageous album for Solas. All nine tunes were composed by band members, and the songs “Sorry,” “A Girl in the War,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (despite the miscalculation in its treatment) confront the troubles of today without tepidity or timidity. After nearly 15 years of recording and touring, the band continues to take creative risks. “The Turning Tide” provides ample proof of that, fortifying Solas’s reputation as an Irish traditional band still making a difference.
The album (cat. no. 7-4530-2) is on Compass Records, 916 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212, 615-320-7672, www.compassrecords.com.
A recent report on the car rental shortages stated that the number of cars on offer has fallen from 30,000 in 2006 to just over 12,000 last year, the Irish Independent reported.
The manager of Dan Dooley Motors, Pat Dooley, said that the shortages will be felt by visitors over the Easter break but that the shortfall would become even more noticeable this summer.
The car rental industry is asking newly appointed tourism minister, Mary Hanafin, to do what she can to tackle the car shortage as a matter of urgency.
The initiative is in support of the envoy’s economic mission in Northern Ireland in which the AIF is an active participant and working group member, stated a release from Kelly’s office.
NISP CONNECT is a non-profit collaboration between the Northern Ireland Science Park, University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast and the Agri Food & Biosciences Institute that helps develop new science and technology ventures in the North.
In addition, the AIF and the Northern Ireland and U.S. working groups set up to support Kelly’s mission have agreed to seek support for a new employee exchange program that will provide young professionals affiliated with NISP CONNECT an opportunity to gain valuable experience by spending one year working for a U.S. corporation.
“The endowment will provide additional resources to these companies as they are starting to grow and will help them reach their full potential. The American Ireland Fund is to be congratulated for their leadership in supporting this important initiative,” said Kelly.
“The American Ireland Fund is obligated towards seeking a normalized society in Northern Ireland and helping to give the young people in the region every opportunity to succeed. The launch of an endowment to support NISP CONNECT and the development of corporate mentorship and exchange programs will help build on the recent political achievements and I look forward to working with NISP CONNECT and Envoy Kelly in the weeks and months ahead,” said Kieran McLoughlin, president the Worldwide Ireland Funds.
Cahill, who was 73, died March 11 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident on Feb. 25.
The Ardkill, County Cavan native was a popular figure and known to many because of his ownership of the Woodside Steak House from 1980 to 1997.
Cahill was the beloved husband of Breda Cahill and the late Anne Cahill and a father of five. He is also survived by a broader family in the New York area, Ireland and the UK.
Following a funeral Mass on Monday, March 15, at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Oradell, New Jersey, Cahill was laid to rest at Maryrest Cemetery in Mahwah, NJ.