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They’re back!

POSTED ON March 7th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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By Ray O’Hanlon

Just when you thought it was safe to don your Aran knits. T-shirts and other clothing items depicting St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to get drunk are cropping up again in stores and website.

And one of the biggest repeat offenders appears to be Urban Outfitters which caused a storm last year with t-shirts that state the likes of “Kiss Me I’m Irish Or Drunk Or Whatever and “Irish I Were Drunk.”

The shirts are essentially the same ones that were being sold a year ago. This year they can be found on the Urban Outfitters website under “The St. Patty’s Day Shop.”

A year ago, the Ancient Order of Hibernians led a campaign to get rid of the offending items but that did not apparently have a lasting effect.

And Urban Outfitters is not the only offender.

The Journal News, which circulates north of New York City, reported that members of Rockland County’s Irish-American community “are once again protesting a series of crude St. Patrick’s Day-themed merchandise being sold at the Palisades Center mall.”

The group, according to the report, is calling on the mall and retailers to stop selling T-shirts, hats and other items displaying a range of raunchy humor, sexual slogans and references to excessive inebriation.

“In particular, the group is targeting Spencer’s, a lifestyle and gag gifts retailer with more than 600 stores in the U.S. including White Plains and Yonkers, for profiting off items they believe mock Irish culture and feed into stereotypes.

“This has gone way beyond a St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt with beer mugs,” said Neil Cosgrove, 54, a New City resident and Anti-Defamation chairperson of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. “They are just pushing the bounds more and more. You don’t see other ethnic groups targeted like this,” he told the paper.

Eastchester set to march on March 10

POSTED ON February 27th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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By Irish Echo Staff

The Eastchester Irish American Social Club is readying for the Westchester County community’s 9th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday March 10.

This celebration has become a tradition and a source of pride and enjoyment for Eastchester and its surrounding area residents, said the EIASC in a release.

The group announced that this year’s grand marshal will be David Flannery, with Jean McCluskey and Breda Travers the parade honorees.

A native of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Flannery helped spearhead the inaugural Eastchester parade in 2004.

“I was seeing an influx of Irish people and I wanted to demonstrate our presence here,” he said.

Aside from being the club’s current treasurer, Flannery is also a contractor and owns a hardware store in the Bronx. For his aides, he has chosen his 15-year-old son, Jack, and long-time friend, Tom Cascione.

Honoree Jean McCluskey was born in Dublin and moved to Eastchester when she immigrated in 1978. She went on to work for the Irish Tourism Board and is presently its marketing director.

Professor Breda Travers came to Eastchester from Limerick.

“I joined (EIASC) because I was looking to share culture with other Irish people and wanted to raise my kids with heritage,” Travers said.

An official sash presentation to the grand marshal and honorees was held recently at J.C. Fogarty’s Town Tavern in Bronxville.

Stephen Huvane, public relations co-chair for EIASC, said the parade will stp off at 3 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe and proceed north on Route 22 to the Lake Isle Country Club.

The parade, he said, incorporates local schools and organizations and this year will feature ten pipe bands, seven brass marching bands and many other groups, including the police and fire Departments, veteran and active military, and antique cars.

The Eastchester Irish American Social Club is a nonprofit organization founded in 1966 and consisting of members from Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville and Crestwood who are of Irish descent. more details at www.eastchesterirish.org.

Dáil exchange over undocumented

POSTED ON February 27th  - POSTED IN News & Views

By Irish Echo Staff

John Deasy and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore “enjoyed a frank exchange in the Dáil” last week on the issue of the undocumented Irish in the U.S., this according to a statement from the Waterford TD’s office.

“The problem is that there never has been a plan B put into operation either by this or the previous government. There have been a lot of false dawns. While we have made progress with regard to the E3 visa, as the Tánaiste has said, it will not cover the bulk of the undocumented Irish. Who is the Tánaiste speaking to on the Republican side, the usual suspects?” said Deasy.

“The reality is that over the last ten or 15 years we have lost sway on Capitol Hill and we have lost sway in particular with the Republican Party. The House of Representatives is held by the Republicans and the opinion of that party on immigration has hardened over the last five or six years. We have not made any inroads into that party in terms of convincing it that a standalone deal, if necessary, is good for the Republicans. I wish to remind the Tánaiste that when it came to the green cards, it was Republican presidencies that allowed that to happen, namely former Presidents Bush and Reagan,” Deasy. who once worked as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, added.

“The Visa Waiver Bill, which has helped Ireland so much over the last 18 years, was passed by a Republican-dominated Congress. The Clinton administration was actually against it. Unless we have a return to the kind of situation that we had 20 years ago with, in particular, the Republican Party and if comprehensive immigration reform fails again we will be left in the same position in which we currently find ourselves,” he said.

Irish in the mix

POSTED ON February 27th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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Cardinals O’Malley and Dolan seen as papal contenders

By Jim Smith

BOSTON —  It might end up being Red Sox versus Yankees – in the conclave.

The names of both Cardinals Sean O’Malley and Timothy Dolan have been prominent in the papal tipping stakes in recent days, this aided by a developing view that being from the U.S. might not be the impediment that it has been in past papal votes.

John Allen, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, suggested that O’Malley has earned a reputation as a humble Franciscan Friar who has worked effectively toward healing the wounds of clergy sexual abuse here and abroad, and in the eyes of some Vatican insiders may have the ideal temperament and background to be the next pontiff.

The 68-year-old O’Malley, whose ancestral roots are in Westport, County Mayo, earned very high marks in Boston for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis in 2003 after he took over for Cardinal Bernard Law, who had resigned amid allegations that he had gravely mishandled the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.

O’Malley reached out to victims and implemented tough new reporting laws immediately after becoming archbishop in Boston. In 2010, Pope Benedict appointed him as an apostolic visitor to the diocese of Dublin in response to the sexual abuse crisis which Irish government reports said had gone on for decades within “a culture of secrecy.”

In addition to his extensive outreach and experience in the area of sexual abuse, O’Malley is highly regarded for his strong links to the Hispanic and Haitian communities. Fluent in several languages, he has a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese literature from Catholic University.

He was bishop of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands from 1984 until 1992, when he became bishop of Fall River in Massachusetts. After a short stint as bishop in Palm Beach, Florida, he replaced Cardinal Law in July 2003.

In a news conference last week, O’Malley said that he has a “round trip” ticket to Rome and has no expectation of becoming the next leader of the church.

Cardinal Dolan, meanwhile, has also been named in media reports as a possible successor to the retiring Benedict although some coverage in recent days has focused more on his dealing with the pedophile scandals during his time in Milwaukee.

Dolan is seen as being orthodox in matters of faith and also an energetic administrator at a time when the church is in need of a steady hand at the helm.

 

Bayonne readies for celebrations

POSTED ON February 25th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Bayonne’s mayor, Mark A. Smith, is planning to turn the New Jersey city green to mark St. Patrick’s Day.

Three weeks of celebration kick off this Sunday, Feb 24, with the Grand Marshal’s brunch at Chandelier Restaurant, 1080 Broadway starting at 11 a.m. and will climax on St. Patrick’s Day itself with the annual parade.

As St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, the big New York parade will take place on Saturday 16 March. And that, say Bayonne boosters, will likely lead to record numbers coming out to the New Jersey town for its annual Irish celebration.

“Bayonne is an ethnically diverse community and we have a longstanding tradition of celebrating our diversity with parades and cultural events and displays,” Mayor Smith told the Irish Echo.

“We have a vibrant Irish American community that takes great pride in sharing their heritage. Our parade, now in its 32nd year, will be led by Grand Marshal Bill Dwyer and will be the longest in the region with over 2,000 marchers representing 70 different organizations.”

Parade day festivities will begin with Mass at St. Henry Church at 10:30 a.m. while the parade will step off at 1 p.m. sharp, following a route along Broadway.

On March 1, the Irish Flag Raising will take place at Bayonne Municipal Building at 5 p.m. followed by the Shamrock Social Party in Holy Family Academy from 8 p.m. Tickets from Una Hughes (201)240-7988.

On March 7, the Hudson County Flag Raising will take place at Brennan Courthouse, Jersey City at 5 p.m. From 7:30 p.m. that evening, the Bayonne Parade Committee will host an Irish Arts Event at the Bayonne Community Museum, 229 Broadway. There will displays of memorabilia from three decades of St. Patrick’s parades in the city and a free concert by Mary Courtney and Morning Star.

On March 14, Mayor Smith will host a senior luncheon in Bayonne with music by Andrew Sharp and Peter McKiernan. On the 17th and after the parade, the parade committee after-party will take place in St. Andrew’s Gym, 126 Broadway from 2:30 p.m.

Standing behind Irish tests

POSTED ON February 20th  - POSTED IN News & Views

 

By Sean Lehane

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has said it is confident in its meat testing after a supermarket chain appeared to cast doubt on the reliability of the FSAI’s results.

The British chief executive of the chain, Iceland, caused uproar when he seemingly dismissed the Irish testing.

“Well, that’s the Irish, isn’t it?” Malcolm Walker in a BBC interview. Walker later apologized

“Iceland and our chief executive, Malcolm Walker, are deeply sorry for any offence caused by his TV interview last night. His comments were not intended to be disrespectful to the Irish people, including our many Irish customers, colleagues and suppliers, or to the Irish food safety authorities. We hold all of these in the very highest regard,” said a company statement.

The Irish authority had found horse DNA in Iceland burgers, but the chain subsequently passed checks in Britain.

Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI dismissed Iceland’s claims that the tests were carried out in unaccredited labs.

He said the Iceland claim was totally unprofessional and said the authority based all risk management decisions on the best science available.

“When we set out with our small survey back in November of last year, we had no idea where we were going with this, but we certainly have uncovered a fraud here of massive scale,” he said.

Professor Reilly was speaking as the horse meat scandal threatened to engulf more countries. When the scandal first came to light last month, fingers were initially pointed at Ireland and Romania. Now, however, the controversy over mislabeled beef products has spread to at least 12 European countries.

Gilmore hails free trade move

POSTED ON February 20th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, has welcomed the announcement by President Obama that the United States will launch talks on a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union.

President Obama made the announcement during his annual State of the Union address last week, dubbing it a “comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

“Securing a negotiating mandate for a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the United States was a top priority for the government when we established the jobs and growth agenda for the Irish Presidency of the EU,” said Gilmore, referring to the current six-month Irish presidency of the European Union.

“This now opens up enormous untapped potential for a new phase in Europe’s economic relations with the U.S. I anticipate that these negotiations will begin during the Irish Presidency, and we will of course make the most of Ireland’s close relationship with the U.S. to get talks off to a good start. I look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with our U.S. colleagues as we begin working on this together,” the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) said.

Now’s the time

POSTED ON February 20th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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Calls grow for Oscar to honor Maureen O’Hara

By Ray O’Hanlon

Oscars will be flying around the room at the Academy Awards this weekend, but unless there’s a big surprise in the wings one of them will not be ending up in the hands of screen legend Maureen O’Hara.

And that has fans the world over crying foul.

“It is a great time to renew Maureen’s case for a lifetime achievement Academy award. Everyone in Ireland is behind her and millions of fans worldwide. She would be a worthy successor to the last two recipients, Lauren Bacall and Eli Wallach,” Des MacHale, who teaches at University College Cork and is chairman of the Quiet Man Movie Fan Club, told the Echo.

“It was not just her Quiet Man role. There was also ‘How Green Was My Valley,’ ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Rio Grande,’ and ‘The Parent Trap,’ to mention just a few. I have campaigned for years, but to no avail. Maureen has given so much to the film world and has never received even a nomination,” said MacHale.

As well as being a fan, MacHale is the author of “The Complete Guide to the Quiet Man,” “Picture the Quiet Man” and “A Quiet Man Miscellany. He was born and grew up in County Mayo, just a few miles from where “The Quiet Man” was filmed.

MacHale’s renewed effort is in part spurred by the fact that Maureen O’Hara now lives with family in Utah, a relatively short flying distance from Los Angeles. And while the star who once owned an airline isn’t flying every day, she is anything but grounded.

The John Wayne Birthplace in Winterset, Iowa, in a recent announcment, said it was thrilled to announce that “screen legend Maureen O’Hara and her family” will be joining us in Winterset, Iowa on May 24  and 25 for our annual John Wayne Birthday Celebration.”

Added the announcement: “O’Hara, who starred with Wayne in “Rio Grande”, “The Quiet Man”, “The Wings of Eagles”, “McLintock!” and “Big Jake,” considered Duke her best friend and, in this public farewell to her legions of fans, she’ll discuss their life-long friendship.

“The two-day event will feature all aspects of Wayne’s film career including the U.S. Cavalry, cowboys, World War II and, of course, Ireland. In tribute to Miss O’Hara, this year’s dinner gala will reprise many of the highlights of last year’s Quiet Man celebration (and feature) music from the classic film performed by Irish songstress Catherine O’Connell, Chicago’s Shannon Rovers Pipes and Drums, and champion Irish dancers, the Fabulous McKay Sisters.”

“If not this year, the Academy of Motion Pictures should be planning right this week to honor Maureen at next year’s Oscars,” said Des MacHale.

Leaders renew assault against BC subpoenas

POSTED ON February 13th  - POSTED IN News & Views

By Irish Echo Staff

The leaders of three main Irish American organizations have renewed their offensive against the U.S. Justice Department subpoenas aimed at the Boston College Troubles archive.

The two year battle has involved a challenge by the Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre against what they and the organizations say is the misuse of the U.S-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Unity Conference and Brehon Law Society further point to twenty members of Congress “who not only share their concern, but question Britain’s commitment to the Irish peace process.”

Said the groups in a statement: The confirmation of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State and the elevation of Senator Robert Menendez to chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two who have opposed the subpoenas, has given new strength to the cause.

“These leaders, Kerry & Menendez,” stated National President of the AOH, Brendan Moore, “have shown a willingness to listen to our arguments and to test our sincerity

and credibility. When presented with documentation regarding threats to the Irish peace process and to the corruption of American laws, they have recognized our good

faith.”

The Brehon Law Society’s Robert Dunne said: “The Cameron government efforts to violate American treaties, policies and rights will not end with the death of Dolours Price or the Moloney and McIntyre litigation decision, but with a Senate hearing on the MLAT and the British corruption of its purpose. To that end we have written to Senator Menendez and to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the opportunity to be heard.”

Attorney Thomas J. Burke Jr., National President of the Unity Conference added: “We invite Americans to join us in expressing to Attorney General (Eric) Holder and to

Secretary of State Kerry strong opposition, not only for this political misuse of the MLAT, but to British efforts to undermine U.S. policy in support of the Irish peace pact.”

The subpoenas have been issued by the Justice Department in response to requests originally filed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Kenny hails ‘historic’ debt deal

POSTED ON February 13th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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By Sean Lehane

Ireland’s bank deal with the European Central Bank is an “historic step on the road to economic recovery,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

The Dáil passed emergency legislation in the early hours of Thursday morning which lets Ireland defer by forty years the bill for its most controversial bank bailout.

Under the plan, the debt taken on by Ireland to finance the IBRC – previously Anglo Irish Bank – rescue will be swapped for long-term government bonds.

The original debt was set to cost Irish taxpayers €3.1 billion euros each year for the next 10 years, with the next payment this March.

Repayment of the debt will not now begin until 2038, and will not be complete until 2053.

The interest rate on the new debt has also been cut to three percent from the previous eight percent.

The legislation was voted through after a stormy session in the Dáil where the plans were attacked for their swift timeframe and lack of detail.

Kenny told the Dáil: “The remnants of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide – stains on our international reputations and dents to our national pride – have now been removed from the financial and political landscape.

“Their closure bookends a tragic chapter in our country’s history. The annual promissory notes payments are gone.”

He added: “We have replaced a short-term, high interest rate overdraft that had to be paid down quickly through more expensive borrowings, with long-term, cheap, interest-only loans.”

Mr. Kenny said there was a long way to travel back to prosperity. However, he said, it was “a vastly better deal.”

Reaction to the move varied from Criticism in the Dáil, praise from ratings agency Standard and Poor’s to anger in the streets of Dublin and other cities and towns.

Said the ratings agency in a statement: “In our opinion, the exchange of promissory notes, which the Irish government had provided to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, for long-dated Irish government bonds, should reduce the government’s debt-servicing costs and lower refinancing risk. We believe the success of the exchange increases the likelihood of a full return by Ireland to private financing and, therefore, of Ireland successfully exiting the EU/IMF bailout program, at the end of 2013.

We are therefore revising our rating outlook on Ireland to stable from negative.”

Meanwhile, over 100,000 people joined street protests to voice their anger at the huge cost of the Irish bank bailout. Trade unions, which organized the demonstrations, say the European banking crisis has so far cost each Irish resident €9,000 compared to a European average of under €200.

Protesters took to the streets in marches organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford.

The largest event took place in Dublin, where up to 25,000 people gathered.

Speaking in Dublin’s Merrion square, Congress General Secretary David Begg said the situation where Irish people were paying 42 percent of the European banking debt burden was not fair. “If you read some papers yesterday you would think we had achieved economic salvation and our problems were over. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“New deal, same problem, 1.8 million people cannot possibly pay off a bank debt burden of €64 billion, especially a debt they played no part in running up. There is nothing fair about this deal.”

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