The first one was such a success that organizers behind the Irish Day of Action for Sandy relief, or “Meitheal,” are undertaking a second one on Dec. 15.
Entitled “Meitheal Na Nollag – Christmas Gathering of Workers” (see official notice Page 27) the day’s work will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 15th, a Staurday.
Buses will leave from various locations and go to the Rockaways.
Meanwhile, Coalition of Irish Immigration Center President and Emerald Isle Immigration Center Executive Director Siobhan Dennehy, said that the collaboration between all the groups during the first Day of Action and after it was a testament to the trust the community places in the Irish centers on the ground
“Also the contacts that have been established and the grassroots aspect of assessing the need and the collaboration on response levels has transcended anything that has been seen before,” said Dennehy.
“The facilitation by Irish consular staff has brought together many groups working together for the first time.”
Dennehy pointed to the likes of the American Ireland Fund. AOH at national and local levels, Emerald Guild, Aisling Irish Center, the Emerald Isle, NY Irish Center, Mineola Irish Center, and Irish and Irish American businesses and networks such as In-NYC, IBO and IMMRAM.
“All have been playing their part magnificently,” said Dennehy who added that the day of action had led to many “reactions” with individuals and groups remaining engaged with those who needed help most.
By Frieda Klotz
For seven years, Mary Philbin has been battling the side effects of illness.
Now she has an opportunity to receive treatment in the States, but she is uncertain how she will pay for it.
Philbin was 19, in the first year of college in County Cork and having the time of her life, when she realized that what appeared to be a throat infection could be a sign of a bigger problem.
She was hungry all the time, tired and lacking energy, and she felt nagging pain in her teeth and on the left side of her face.
After waiting months for a CT scan, she eventually received the diagnosis: a rare type of cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which affects the throat and nose.
An aggressive course of radiation treatment kept the cancer at bay but Philbin has suffered devastating side effects: the radiation destroyed her saliva glands entirely, and scar tissue formed in her throat, which prevents her from eating any solid food.
She has a condition like lockjaw and breathes with difficulty.
Last July she learnt of a serious complication: liquid was seeping into her lungs. “That’s the cruel reality of treatment,” she said, describing the after-effects. “I feel blessed that I’m alive today. But I was only 19 at the time and …it’s so harsh. Hopefully in the future people won’t have to go through what I went through.”
The therapy, though successful, left Philbin with an array of new health issues.
Now 26 years old, she survives on a liquid diet, able to consume between 600 and 900 calories per day. And her condition is getting worse. Further surgeries have helped to stretch her constricted throat but, with each procedure running the risk of aggravating the scars, her consultants in Ireland are reluctant to do more.
Last week, Philbin traveled to America for treatment, which she hopes will alleviate her symptoms. She spoke to the Irish Echo from her room at the Fitzpatrick Hotel near Grand Central.
She was shortly to travel to North Carolina, where she plans to see a specialist based at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. After doing extensive research online, Philbin located Dr. Christopher Sullivan, a consultant with a reputation for performing successful and innovative surgery in this field.
“She was shortly to travel to North Carolina, where she plans to see a specialist based at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. After doing extensive research online, Philbin located Dr. Christopher Sullivan, a consultant with a reputation for performing successful and innovative surgery in this field.”
Philbin was struck by the testimony of one of his patients, who had been unable to swallow before treatment but was able to eat solid food after it. The story filled her with hope, she said. “It was a matter of having to take this leap and come here.”
The Philbins are relying on the Irish Health Service Executive to fund all or part of the treatment, but that has not been confirmed. With no health insurance in the U.S., their financial position is precarious.
“We haven’t heard anything back yet,” the young woman said.
“Things aren’t looking very positive at the moment.”
Already the Philbins have borrowed to fund her visit. Mary’s mother, Eileen, told the Echo that they are rapidly running out of money.
Nor do they have an idea of how much the procedure itself might cost.
“There are so many complications they just can’t call it,” Eileen said, speaking over the phone.
“It’s very hard to say what it could be.”
Eileen, who lives in Cavan, has stayed in Ireland to seek a commitment from the Health Services Executive. She told the Echo of plans for a fun-run, a coffee morning and sale of raffle tickets.
“It’s in quite a small way so it’s very hard to determine what will be raised from that,” she acknowledged.
“It probably won’t be an awful lot but every little will help.”
For her daughter, the journey to New York itself was arduous. The radiation treatment leaves her unable to fly, so instead she plotted a circuitous route: traveling by car from Cavan to Rosslare, she took the ferry to Fishguard in Wales. Southampton was the next stop where a ship was setting off across the ocean.
The transatlantic passage took seven days and exposed Philbin to further potential infections and ill health.
“It’s been a crazy undertaking, such an enormous undertaking for someone in my shoes.”
With money too tight to cover much time in New York City, Philbin intended to travel to North Carolina as soon as possible.
Whether or not funding comes through from the Irish government, she said she was adamant about seeing this doctor.
Otherwise, as things are the future looks bleak.
Over the phone, even now, Mary’s breathing sounded labored.
“If I give up too easily and go home, my health is going to deteriorate. My breathing is going to get worse,” she added.
“It’s not great as it is.”
Mary was optimistic about the efficacy of her U.S. gamble. “They’re telling me that they’ve nothing to offer me in Ireland,” she pointed out.
“All you can do is hope, and if you don’t try you’ll never know.”
People interested in contributing towards Mary’s treatment can contact Mrs. Eileen Philbin at 1-353-87-6490311.
By Larry Kirwan
In the light of the death, disaster and loss of property that accompanied the recent super storm, we must face the reality that global warming may not be just a figment of your average tree-hugger’s imagination.
Not that the appropriately named Sandy was necessarily triggered by man-made causes. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to ignore that three of the ten highest floods in the Battery Park area over the last century have occurred in the last three years.
We are continually warned by politicians about the danger of handing over an unsupportable national debt to future generations, but what if we’re also passing on an unsupportable planet?
The mind boggles at the prospect, given that we may have already set events in motion that will be difficult to reverse.
But stop them we must – either now at a very expensive price, or later when that cost and effort may be beyond both our pockets and capabilities.
“Balderdash!” you might say, and you could be right. But what if you’re wrong?
There was a time when I enjoyed reading science fiction and attended that genre’s various conventions.
At one such affair I even “appropriated” a bottle of whiskey belonging to Frank Herbert, the writer of “Dune,” but that’s a story for another day.
While “Dune” is still a terrific read, there’s little to be gained in tackling most of this geeky literature since much of the fiction I enjoyed is fast becoming fact.
A painting from one of these long-ago conventions haunted me in the last weeks. It showed the island of Manhattan surrounded by large Gothic battlements built to withstand a swollen ocean caused by an overheated earth – a fantastical notion back then.
It reminded me that we seem to have lost the will – or the foresight – to confront only the most immediate of problems. But those of you who grew up in rural areas know that the land must be treated with respect; farmers inherently understand the wisdom of rotating crops and allowing arable fields to lie fallow every so often.
Our continuing reliance on oil and natural gas is madness. These resources are finite and will run out. Besides, we’re still essentially utilizing the same technology as Henry Ford with his Model T, still spewing the same gasoline fumes into the atmosphere, and at the same ridiculously low mileage to the gallon.
President Obama boasts about upping these rates to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Did he ever hear of Europe? They’ve been getting this mpg on some cars ever since the Carter administration.
In fact, the U.S. was on the fast track to similar rates back when bell-bottoms and disco were all the rage. What happened?
Well, we decided that the poor oil companies and auto-manufacturers needed time to update; then soon thereafter gas prices went through the floor, so who gave a damn anymore.
Thirty-five years later, gas is expensive again and now we’re supposed to wait until 2025 for what Europe already has?
But it’s more than that. China and India want their shot at gluttonous excess, and self-righteous sermons from our politicians will likely fall on deaf ears.
Not to worry! We now have fracking – so drill baby drill, burn baby burn! What a break! Just when oil reserves were beginning to show the inevitable signs of decline, we came up with a new technology to fracture shale and release the natural gas inside.
Great stuff! But in some areas fracking is affecting the water supply. We’re already damaging the very air we breathe with gas emissions; whatever we do, let us at least bequeath clean water to our descendants.
No one is even suggesting that we not utilize the vast new reserves of natural gas that have already brought prosperity to previously low income states like North Dakota, but easy does it when messing with the water supply.
If we gain only one thing from the aftermath of the Sandy tragedy, let it be that we become aware of the fragility of the world around us. l
Let us be sure to hand over this beautiful planet to the next generation in at least the same state of health in which it was handed to us.
by Frieda Klotz
Anyone who grew up in Ireland or visited it during all but the very final years of the twentieth century might hesitate to associate the country with gourmet food. Irish cuisine has traditionally been simple in the eyes of the broader world: a variation on the theme of meat and potatoes. In recent years, however, that has changed. And an organization called Good Food Ireland is spreading the word.
Representatives of Good Food Ireland were in the U.S. earlier this month to launch a new brand of Irish cuisine and a network that promotes Irish food while educating members of the food industry in Ireland.
GFI is on a mission to foster sustainable, authentic Irish products and cuisine. It was established by Margaret Jeffares in 2006, with the aim of encouraging innovation and high standards in Irish cooking.
“Coming from a farming background, born in a farm in County Clare, I’m very close to farming,” Jeffares told the Irish Echo.
She decided to set up an organization that linked Irish farmers with Irish hotels and restaurants.
“All the statistics are there, that when you buy one euro’s worth of food in the local economy it’s multiplied; it’s equivalent to 14 euros back into that local economy,” she explained.
“So I just thought it would be a really good economic driver for Ireland, and it would be good for industry.”
Over the past decade, there has been a revolution in Irish food. An influx of immigrants during the boom years helped to bring diversity. Indian restaurants and Spanish tapas made an appearance in towns and cities. Farmers’ markets carrying local produce have sprung and flourished across the country.
And in 2012, eight Irish eateries were awarded prestigious Michelin stars.
Maurice Keller, an ambassador chef with Good Food Ireland, said there is a growing sense of confidence about Irish cuisine as Irish chefs became more prominent.
“We’ve had a plethora of Irish chefs over the last seven or eight years who have come to the fore,” he said.
“With that has come a huge confidence to Irish chefs and people who are producing and cooking Irish food. And they’ve been probably a little bit braver about our traditional dishes by giving them a modern twist.”
Good Food Ireland has a multifaceted role in fostering Irish food. It connects farmers with hoteliers and restaurants, requiring certain standards of producers and encouraging establishments to buy local.
And it gives businesses a platform to market their goods. On the website, http://www.goodfoodireland.ie/, a prospective visitor to the country can survey a range of institutions that have received the GFI stamp – including shops, accommodation, cafes, pubs, cookery schools, producers and markets.
A gastronomically-inclined tourist might also deploy “My Food Trip” – a function on the website which allows you to plan a food-based journey.
The food trip can be “whatever the customer wants,” Jeffares said.
“It can be a very intensive pure food trip, where they want to visit a cheese-maker or a smoke house to see how smoked salmon is produced. They could go to a food festival, they could take in a cookery demonstration, or they could just be coming to Ireland to sightsee, have no interest really in going to a see a food producer, but they just love good food.”
In early 2013, the website will add an online shop, allowing consumers to purchase items (those that are FDA-approved) from abroad.
GFI has emerged at an auspicious time, coinciding with a growing interest among consumers in where their food comes from and what’s in it.
Not all GFI products are organic but some are.
“It is about local fresh food that’s from Ireland,” Jeffares said.
“Obviously if that is organic, fantastic.”
At the moment, Ireland’s economy is open to innovation.
“It’s the old classic,” Jeffares suggested. “Recession brings entrepreneurship.”
She cited a range of artisan foods that certainly would not have been found a decade ago in Dublin: rapeseed oil, microbeers, buffalo mozzarella (made in West Cork) and trout caviar, the first caviar to be produced in Ireland.
“So many people say that to me, ‘You only have bacon and cabbage and Irish stew over there’,” Jeffares said.
“I say, ‘Yes we have and we’re very proud of our traditional dishes but today if you were to ask me what is Irish food, to me it’s an Irish ingredient-led cuisine.”
At a restaurant in Manhattan, Ed Cooney, head chef at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel – and who prepared dinner for President Obama and Michelle when they visited – cooked a meal showcasing Good Food Ireland products.
Combining Burren smoked salmon with Clare Island salmon tartar, and placing Irish farmhouse cheeses with oatcakes and Ballymaloe relish, the dinner made a point: that despite its simple meat-and-potatoes history, Ireland is today a source of enhanced and expanded culinary delight.
Frank Durkan got his way in more than one New York court case. Now he has his way with New York’s streetscape.
The late attorney, who championed innumerable causes whether winnable or seemingly lost, is now permanently remembered by a street sign in the Bronx just a hand pass from Gaelic Park.
The renaming of Tibbett Avenue at West 240th Street to Tibbett Avenue and Frank Durkan Way took place on a blustery Saturday afternoon last with a good crowd in attendance despite the fact that many from the Irish community who would remember the Mayo native fondly were doing relief work on the Rockaways as part of the post-Sandy Irish Day of Action.
Tibbett Avenue from West 238th Street to West 240th Street is now officially co-named “Frank Durkan Way” in Durkan’s honor of the late attorney and Irish advocate.
Tributes paid to Durkan at the unveiling ceremony came from a number of people who had crossed paths with Durkan for legal, political or just social reasons.
Among them was Martin Lyons, one of the leading campaigners for the street renaming, and Ken Tierney, defended by Durkan when he was a member of the “Fort Worth Five.”
A week prior to the Irish Day of Action Lansdowne Bhoys FC organized players and club members to travel to the Rockaways and Breezy Point to take part in Sandy relief work.
The Aisling Irish Center on in Yonkers provided directions to where Irish residents residents were most in need.
“We cleaned up four homes and made new friends along the way,” said member Paul Doherty.
“The devastation of Hurricane Sandy is evident for all to see.
“The Irish community in New York have always helped people in times of need and we felt it was our duty to go and help out,” he said.
While our numbers were modest we can see the tangible benefits of what we done by the response of the people we helped.
There is a lot there to be done, but if we all chip in it is manageable,” he added.
Doherty thanks the club’s sponsore MC Electrical, PNC Painting and Emerald Tile who had donated to the Aisling Center’s Sandy fund.
Police investigating the dissident republican murder of a police officer in Northern Ireland last year have made two arrests. A 39-year-old man from Omagh in County Tyrone has been arrested under the Terrorism Act by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on Tuesday. Earlier a 22-year-old man, also from Omagh, was detained by police in Milton Keynes, England. Constable Ronan Kerr, 25, a Catholic officer, died in a booby-trap car bomb in Omagh on April 2, 2011.
His murder was widely condemned with members of the PSNI and GAA carrying his coffin. The 39-year-old man has been taken to Antrim police station.
The first arrest was made by officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit in England at the request of PSNI Serious Crime Branch detectives. The 22-year-old man remains in custody. Meanwhile, on Monday evening, a pipe bomb was thrown at PSNI officers in West Belfast while they responded to reports of a burglary. The device did not explode and no-one was injured in the attack.
Local Sinn Féin councilor Emma Groves condemned the attack. “It has been totally inconvenient for people. I totally condemn this,” she said. ”The only thing this has achieved is annoyance and upset for the people and residents living in our community. People don’t want this anymore, they don’t want to have to lift their kids and take their kids out into a freezing cold evening.
“The people in this area certainly don’t support this sort of behavior,” she added. PSNI chief superintendent George Clarke said: “When the police attended the area, from the shadows it would appear someone threw what we believe now to have been a viable pipe bomb and we are extraordinarily fortunate that what was clearly a determined attack to murder police officers, didn’t lead to the death or serious injury of a police officer.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, wants an investigation into the decision to grant European Union funding for a cross-border bridge. Mr. Robinson said the Narrow Water bridge linking counties Down and Louth is not a priority.
In October, the European Union said it would give €17.4 million to fund the single-lane cable bridge, one of the first cross-border bridges to be built in decades.
Planning permission was granted by authorities on both sides of the border prior to the EU funding being granted.
Louth TD Gerry Adams, and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, both welcomed the decision to build the bridge saying it would be a major boost to tourism and the economy in both counties.
Mr. Robinson said: “We have money available for infrastructure projects and the case was made, very strongly, that these have to be to the infrastructure projects that come out at the top of the list and not what some people were able to choose that weren’t even on it.”
The DUP leader has also rejected claims by former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie that he wanted money funneled away from North-South infrastructure schemes towards community projects in loyalist areas.
Ms. Ritchie told MPs at Westminster that Mr. Robinson had complained to the Irish government about the matter.
“As far as the working class Protestant areas go, I do want to see them getting more funding because I do think they are getting a thoroughly bad deal at the present time and I will continue to argue for that, Margaret Ritchie or not,” Robinson said.
As currently envisaged, the single lane cable Narrow Water bridge will be 660 meters long and could be open as early as 2015. It is close to the scene where the IRA killed 18 British soldiers in August 1979.
Battle lines have been drawn in Belfast ahead of next Monday’s flag vote at City Hall. On Friday, Sinn Féin and the SDLP joined forces at the Strategic and Policy Resources Committee at Council to vote in favor of removing the Union Flag or “Jack” as it is typically called, from the dome of Belfast City Hall for the first time in the building’s 106 year history.
Eleven nationalist councilors voted in favor while nine unionists voted against change.
The proposal will now go to the full council meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.
At present, nationalists are two short of an overall majority at council following gains in last May’s election.
The Alliance party hold the balance of power and they have already said that they want the flag to come down and only to be flown on 17 designated days in the year, like Remembrance Day and the Queen’s birthday.
Unionists are expected to step up their campaign in the coming days to force Alliance to vote in favor of flying the flag 365 days a year.
Sinn Féin Councilor Jim McVeigh said last Friday’s committee vote was an important step in making Belfast City Hall an inclusive place.
The Falls Road councilor said: “Sinn Féin wants to see a City Hall that is inclusive and
welcoming to every citizen and every tradition.
“The Union Jack is associated with one tradition in this city and is often used to exclude and intimidate others. The decision of the Strategic and Policy Resources Committee today to end the policy of flying the Union Jack is an important step in making Belfast City Hall an inclusive place.”
SDLP Councilor Tim Attwood also praised the decision. He said the proposal put before the committee was designed to promote a shared space and present City Hall as a civic center for all the people of Belfast, “and as such, we voted to support it.
“With the decision now having been taken, we look forward to full Council in December, where we hope other parties will continue to join with us, in supporting a City Hall that is truly shared by all people of Belfast.”
In last May’s council election Sinn Féin returned as the largest party on the council with 16 seats. The SDLP have eight seats. That leaves the combined total of nationalist councilors just two short of the overall majority.
Irish “Day of Action”
to help the residents of Rockaway who have been shattered by Hurricane Sandy, it will take place on November 24th the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Designated work areas will be arranged in Rockaway.
The day is being coordinated by the Irish Consulate in New York
Buses leave promptly at 7AM. Assembly at these locations:
Aisling Irish Center, 990 McLean Avenue, Yonkers;
Emerald Isle Immigration Center, 5926 Woodside Avenue, Woodside
EIIC, 4275 Katonah Avenue Bronx;
New York Irish Center, 1040 Jackson Avenue, Queens;
Grand Central Airport Bus Location, Park Avenue, (between 41st and 42nd Street.
Buses return from The Rockaways at 3PM.
***Volunteer Registration Open***
Please consider volunteering on November 24, 2012 for a day of Action to those still in need of help after Hurricane Sandy, organized in conjunction with coordination and assistance with community organizations and staff from the New York Irish consulate.
All are welcome to join our mobilization in the community to help. Also PLEASE pass the information along (post on Facebook, Twitter etc.) to anyone you think would be interested in helping, as there are many in our community still in great need of assistance.
Buses will leave designated locations at 7am and are expected to return @ 2:30 pm.