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Former IRA man shot dead in Belfast

POSTED ON August 13th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Police at the murder scene in Belfast last night. Pacemaker Photo

By Ciara Quinn
letters@irishecho.com

A murder inquiry has been launched after a former member of the Provisional IRA was shot dead in East Belfast on Wednesday night.

Father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan Sr. was shot in his home at Comber Street in the Short Strand.

Police said he was one of a number of suspects in the murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison – a former senior IRA man – who was shot dead as he walked to work in Belfast in May.

Mr. McGuigan was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment, but later died from his wounds.

The victim’s mother, Margaret McGuigan, told the BBC that her son’s killers would have to live with what they had done and that she “would pray for them.”

She added there had been “too many murders” in the area and that she hoped her son’s would be the last.

Mr. McGuigan had been questioned by police after the murder of 47-year-old Jock Davison.

McGuigan was previously shot several times in a so-called punishment attack

Sinn Féin Councilor, Niall Ó Donnghaile, who lives in the Short Strand, said: “The community
here rejects any attempt by any armed group to turn the clock back to the past.”

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell condemned the attack.

“Those behind this savagery on our streets must be brought to justice,” he said.

“There is no place for the gun in our society,” said Alliance Party leader and Justice Minister David Ford.

“Those responsible for this appalling crime have left a family grieving and a community in shock.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minster, Peter Robinson, said there would be repercussions if any organization was found to be involved in the murder.

Robinson was asked if he was concerned that IRA, or former IRA members, may have carried out the attack.

“I think everyone should be concerned that would be the case,” he said.

“We will speak to the PSNI to see what their findings are in terms of the involvement of any organization. But let’s be very clear, there will be repercussions if that was found to be the case.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his thoughts were with the McGuigan family.

“I unreservedly condemn this appalling deed,” he said.

No immigration reform this side of 2017: McConnell

POSTED ON August 12th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Senator Mitch McConnell

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out any action on immigration reform in the current Congress.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, McConnell made it clear that reform advocates will have to wait.

And he point the finger of blame at President Obama.

“Not this Congress. I think when the president took the action he did, after the 2014 election, he pretty much made it impossible for us to go forward with immigration reform this Congress,” said the Kentucky senator, this in reference to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration – actions which have since been tied up by court rulings.

“The concern that we expressed about that I think was validated by the fact that he (Obama) is currently under a court order not to go forward with what he decided to do.

“And so the atmosphere for dealing with that issue in the wake of what he did is not appropriate to get the kind of immigration reform that we probably need to address,” McConnell said.

“Hopefully in the next Congress we’ll do it, where we’ll have for sure a different president,” McConnell added.

The Echo was alerted to the Majority Leader’s words by Keith Carney who was attending the press conference.

Carney runs a broadcast news organization on Capitol Hill called FedNet which provides daily Radio/TV coverage of Floor debates, press conferences and hearings.

Regardless of congressional inaction, or indeed because of it, immigration reform, and its ever present companion, border security, looks set to be a front burner issue in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

It was addressed during last week’s first Republican candidates’ debate in Cleveland.

CNN ‘stuck in a time warp’ says AOH

POSTED ON August 11th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

The CNN documentary series “The Seventies” is stuck in a time warp of misinformation with regard to Northern Ireland.

This is the view of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in regard to the much touted lookback at the decade in which the North Troubles were making worldwide headlines.

In a statement, the AOH said it was “both disappointed and saddened” that CNN, a major news network, would, in a recent episode of the series entitled “The Golden Age of Terrorism” “continue to perpetuate a sadly dated, skewed and inaccurate depiction of the struggle for freedom in Northern Ireland.”

It was hoped that the episode (aired July 30th) would take advantage of the forty years that have transpired between those dark days in Irish history and today to bring fresh perspective and analysis to the human tragedy that was the Troubles, said AOH Political Education Chairman, Neil Cosgrove, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, CNN’s segments concerning ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland presented viewers only the same highly bowdlerized depiction of events as originally offered by the British state-run BBC which were accepted uncritically by the American media of the 70s and which CNN promulgates fresh again in 2015,” said Cosgrove.

And he continued: “CNN continues the sad media tradition of presenting a highly censored depiction of the conflict in Northern Ireland, completely omitting the ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries such as the UVF and UDA who committed numerous atrocities in collusion with the British State.

“It was particularly reprehensible and inaccurate to describe the proximate cause of Bloody Sunday, a massacre which the Saville Inquiry held the members of the British Parachute Regiment fully accountable and vindicated the innocence of the Irish victims, as a reaction to ‘the Internment of terrorists,” when history shows that due to faulty British intelligence many of those interned without charges, nor trial, had no terrorist connections.

“The true root of the Troubles in the 70s grew out of rampant discrimination in hiring and housing, the violent suppression of peaceful civil rights marchers who were attempting to emulate America’s civil rights movement, and a military sent in as ‘peacemakers’ who instead became active and partisan belligerents.”

Cosgrove said that the AOH was taking note that the series did not cover incidents such as the shooting without provocation of innocent civilians by members of the same parachute regiment in Ballymurphy in August 1971, the invasion and bombing of the Republic of Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries supported by members of the British military and intelligence forces in the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings of May 1974, or the murder of innocent civilians by members of the UVF and UDR in the Miami Showband Massacre in July 1975, “an event which we note with sad irony occurred one day shy of forty years prior to CNN’s airing this skewed depiction of the Troubles.”

He said that though well within the remit of the show, CNN was being “conspicuously silent” on acts of loyalist and state terrorism.

“We also note that unlike other groups covered in the program, there was no contemporary analysis, nor present day interviews, with people who had actually experienced the Troubles first hand.

“At a time when fresh revelations are showing that the British government was an active and willing participant in furthering the violence of the Troubles, when weapons used by loyalist paramilitaries to commit murder previously declared ‘lost’ by the RUC and PSNI are ‘found’ on display in the Imperial War Museum in London, CNN’s coverage of the conflict in Northern Ireland as depicted in ‘the Seventies’ is as dated as its title, and instead of bringing illumination to that conflict, merely parrots the flawed, and now discredited, sound bites of forty years ago.”

Shane wins, Rory’s back

POSTED ON August 10th  - POSTED IN News & Views
Esker Hills Golf Club Watch WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Clara, Offaly 9/8/2015 Members of Esker Hills Golf Club look on in as Shane Lowry wins the WGC Bridgestone Invitational Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie


Members of Esker Hills Golf Club celebrate as Shane Lowry wins the WGC Bridgestone Invitational
INPHO/JAMES CROMBIE

 

By Ray O’Hanlon

rohanlon@irishecho.com

 

Shane’s breakthrough and Rory’s comeback are the big Irish golf stories this week.

Actually, they are the big world golf stories as Shane Lowry’s win Sunday at the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio has reverberated across the global game.

And Rory McIlroy turning up at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin to defend his PGA title later this week has been making headlines as well.

Many were expecting the Clara, Co. Offaly native Lowry to make the breakthrough on the PGA circuit, though some might have been a little surprised that it happened in Akron, where the elite of golf were competing by invitation.

And though the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club is not a golf Major, it features a Major-worthy field.

Lowry had to fend off the challenges of this year’s Major winners Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson over the four days, and in the final holes he had to see off two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, as well as former U.S. Open winners Justin Rose and Jim Furyk.

This was a big win for Lowry, a very big win.

And it was achieved with grit and style.

Twice Lowry saved himself from disaster by hitting the green after being stymied behind trees, first on the tenth when he launched a blind wedge shot that ended a little over a foot from the cup, and again after a wayward drive on the 18th.

A second shot over the trees on that final hole clipped a branch and landed about ten feet from the hole.

Lowry sank the putt for a most unlikely birdie and secured a two shot win over Watson while registering a final round of 66.

Throughout his round Lowry demonstrated the kind of sangfroid necessary to win the big ones.

He did so with mostly fairway hitting drives and in particular several clutch par-saving putts, one of them being a 17-footer on the 14th after finding a bunker.

The win delivered a check for $1,570,000 and an open door to the PGA Tour and the Fed Ex Cup.

It also vaulted Lowry from 48 to 19 in the official world golf rankings.

 

Irish American tech group spreads wings with angel investment

POSTED ON August 10th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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MAD MAN: New York Digital Irish founder, Feargall Kenny, outside the Madison Avenue offices of his recruitment company Glenborn.

By Mairtin O’Muilleoir
letters@irishecho.com

LikeCharity, a Dublin company seeking investment in the U.S., has won the support of an Irish American technology network which has just made its first “angel” investment.

Set up originally as a meeting place for Irish Americans working in the tech sector, the New York Digital Irish has now spun-off an investment group dubbed the Irish Diaspora Angels.

And their debut investment has gone to Dublin-based start-up LikeCharity, which delivers marketing campaigns for not-for-profits.

Network founder Feargall Kenny, whose Glenborn e-commerce recruitment company is based on Madison Avenue, says the investment group was a logical next step for the Digital Irish.

“We have about a thousand members in the New York Digital Irish,” says Kenny, “and every two months we bring four start-ups from Ireland, north and south, to present to a Big Apple audience.

“To date, we’ve had about seventy companies through and we’ve managed to make thousands of introductions which hopefully have helped them move to the next stage.

“But since we were always being asked about funding, we thought it was time to bring together those in the Digital Irish who wanted to go a little further and invest in the start-ups coming before us. We teamed up with serial entrepreneur, angel investor and fellow Irishman David Beatty, and thus was born Irish Diaspora Angels.”

Adds Dubliner Kenny, who came here 21 years ago and stayed courtesy of the Morrison Visa program: “We’ve created an affinity group of Irish American and Irish expat accredited investors who are willing to make angel investments in great opportunities which have already been vetted in Ireland.

“If our angel investors lose their money — and they will work hard to ensure these companies succeed — they still know that they have helped create a bunch of jobs in Irish firms and made introductions here which could prove crucial for these exciting young companies.”

LikeCharity founder Tadhg O’Toole has given the heaven-sent investment the thumbs-up: “LikeCharity is delighted to have secured investment from the Irish Diaspora Angels,” he said.

“In addition to investment, the introductions and insights into the U.S. market are invaluable to us right now.”

You can find out more online about the New York Digital Irish at http://www.ny.digital.irish and the Irish Diaspora Angels at
https://irishdiasporaangels.proseeder.com/site/displayPage.do?siteId=1372475894708&pageId=3102.

Recalling Julia Canny, Hiroshima resident

POSTED ON August 9th  - POSTED IN News & Views

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By Adrian Millar

letters@irishecho.com

Seventy years ago today my friend Julia was sitting in her garden when she saw a huge blinding flash of light in the sky and she was thrown off her chair. She picked herself up and ran for cover inside her home along with her fellow religious sisters – all Sisters of the Holy Souls in Hiroshima. Suddenly, there was a deafening explosion and the convent building began to shake. Terrified, she ran outside as the convent collapsed at their heels. The convent wall collapsed before her very eyes. Where the wall had stood lay the remains of her neighborhood.

She had just witnessed the world’s first atomic bomb, its epicenter a mere 1.7 kilometers away. She was probably the only Irish citizen to do so. In that instant, 50,000 people had been burnt to death – secondary school children, hospital patients and staff, factory workers, shoppers, kindergarten children and teachers, entire families.

In the hours that followed, a further 50,000 people died from the fires that raged. Julia and her friends had been spared from the radiation by taking shelter in their convent, and had been spared from serious shrapnel injury when they had run out from the convent as it went up in flames behind them.

Julia Canny was born in Clonbur, Co. Galway, in 1894. She had joined the Sisters of the Holy Souls in New York in the early 1930s at the age of 39. At the age of 46, in 1939, she had boarded the last boat out of San Francisco to Japan before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of war between Japan and the USA. Upon disembarkation, she was immediately thrown into a concentration camp, the Japanese authorities having presumed that she was an enemy American. She was released six months later upon the intervention of the Swiss ambassador who proved that she was an Irish citizen.

What lay before Julia’s eyes beyond the convent walls that morning of Aug. 6, 1945, when she ran back outside again, was a scene of total carnage: black smoke, fires, loud explosions, the injured and the dead everywhere. People with black faces and huge burns on their bodies. Mothers carrying their burning children, the less grievously injured carrying the gravely injured on their backs as they tried to beat a path away from the raging fires in the city towards the nearby hills.

A German Jesuit priest, Fr. Kopp, had just said Mass for the Sisters – three French, two Italians and two Japanese citizens among them – and had just stepped outside the convent walls when the flash occurred. Fr. Kopp was injured by falling shrapnel and had his hand burned by the radioactive blast, but together with the sisters he began to try to save valuables from the burning convent. They had time to bury some things in an open field before fleeing. The convent burned to the ground behind them.

Together they made their way to the Jesuit novitiate just outside Hiroshima, where fellow Jesuit priests had turned their chapel into a makeshift hospital. It took Fr. Kopp and the Sisters of the Holy Souls five hours to make the 4-kilometer journey to their destination.

They traveled through a burnt out wasteland full of the dead and the dying. They stopped to help those that they could, but with little by way of First Aid materials, they were obliged to leave people to die. An hour after their arrival at the novitiate, a tornado rose up out of the sea and the dying and injured who had sought refuge by the river drowned. It took a company of soldiers three full days to cremate all the bodies in an elementary school that had been turned into an emergency centre nearby the Jesuit novitiate. The stench of human remains remained in the area for weeks.

I met Julia Canny for the first time 40 years later. She was aged 91; I was 24. I was a student of Japanese at the University of Waseda, in Tokyo. I immediately fell in love. So did she. She was “holed up” – bedridden, effectively – in a convent house in Tokyo and didn’t have a word of Japanese. It was 1984. I was her “television” because I brought her news of the outside world – and I was Irish, a “boon” – a gift to her at the end of her life. She had never returned to Ireland. She hadn’t been in Clonbur when her parents died or for her sisters’ marriages. I came home in her place. In the summer of 1985, I visited her home-place. I returned to her in Tokyo with photos of her octogenarian sisters, her parents’ graves, her former school. “Oh, my God, they have running water!” she said. She cried bittersweet tears.

On her “down” days, she would raise the palms of her hands pleadingly to me and tell me that she was suffering from the effects of the radiation – her palms reddened. I would cajole her back to life. When she was hospitalized at the age of 93, I was at her bedside everyday demanding her to live. She finally died one month short of her 94th birthday, in 1987. All Saints Day.

She was my little saint.

She lived by one simple tenet: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do onto me.”

She knew that the people of Hiroshima were important.

She knew that the people who suffer most in war are always the civilian casualties.

It’s still the same today – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, not so long ago, in Northern Ireland.

Nothing justifies their suffering.

Nothing.

And how do you stop it?

That’s easy: you stop.

You make peace. For the sake of the least of these.

Father to three daughters, Adrian Millar is a stay-at-home dad and writer. He is the compiler and editor  of The Beauty Of Everyday Life, thirty-five stories by some of Ireland’s best known personalities, in aid of TeenLine Ireland. In 2016, The Silk Factory, his novel inspired by the life of Sr. Issac Jogues, will be available on Amazon. You can follow Adrian on Twitter @AdrianMillar and on www.adrianmillar.ie.

 

U.S. pilgrims flying to Knock this weekend

POSTED ON August 7th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan steps into the role of head pilgrim this weekend when he leads as many as 200 fellow pilgrims to the Knock Marian Shrine in County Mayo.

And the pilgrims will be making their east bound journey on an Aer Lingus plane which will make the airline’s first flight from New York’s JFK to Knock airport, referred to more often these days as Ireland West Airport.

“This is significant. It’s a big breakthrough,” said New York radio broadcaster Adrian Flannelly.
“It is significant because the cardinal is not just flying in to say Mass but is staying with the pilgrims for the entire nine days,” Flannelly said.

Also flying will be New York attorney and immigration reform advocate, Brian O’Dwyer.
For both Flannelly and O’Dwyer it will be a homecoming.

Flannelly is a Mayo native and O’Dwyer a first generation American with family roots in the county who acts as an ambassador for Mayo in the U.S.

Flannelly said that in addition to the purely religious aspects of the journey, Cardinal Dolan will be taking time to see something of Ireland, not least portions of the Wild Atlantic Way.

In that regard, he said, the pilgrimage would serve to cast light on the West of Ireland and its many attractions.

“It’s very exciting,” Flannelly said of the pilgrimage.

Cardinal Dolan will open this year’s national novena at Knock on Friday, August 14 with Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland.

The pilgrims will return to New York two days later.

In addition to the Aer Lingus flight being a first, the visit will also be the first official chartered pilgrimage to Ireland’s national Marian shrine from anywhere and the first diocesan pilgrimage from the archdiocese of New York to the Marian shrine.

The parish priest at Knock, Fr. Richard Gibbons, described the announcement of the New York pilgrimage as “a very important and historic step for the promotion of Knock,” the Irish Times reported.

He said that Ireland West Airport was built specifically to welcome pilgrims to Knock Shrine, as well as to develop the economic life of the West. “Monsignor James Horan, I’m sure, would be very proud,” he said of the onetime parish priest of Knock whose vision of an international airport, when it became real, was seen by many as being little short of miraculous.
Pope John Paul II, Now Saint John Paul, dedication the Knock Basilica during his 1979 visit to Ireland.

“Knock Shrine holds a special place in the hearts of our diaspora and, in the Catholic tradition, pilgrimage plays a significant role in renewing people’s faith and we are delighted to facilitate that,” Father Gibbons said.

During the pilgrimage, Cardinal Dolan will say Mass in the Chapel of the Apparition on Sunday August 9.

He will celebrate a morning liturgy the following day in Lough Derg, an island sanctuary dedicated to St. Patrick that the pilgrims will reach by boat.

August 11 and 12 will feature stops at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and the Lakes of Killarney in Kerry.

Cardinal Dolan will celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney.

On August 13, pilgrims will undertake a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula that will feature an outdoor liturgy at a Mass Rock site.

The centerpiece of the pilgrimage, the Mass that will open the national novena, will take place the following day.

Irish Navy again rescues hundreds of migrants

POSTED ON August 6th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Migrants in rescue rafts waiting to be taken aboard the LE Niamh. Irish Defense Forces photo.

By Irish Echo Staff
letters@irishecho.com

The Irish Naval Service has again found itself in the front line of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The LE Niamh yesterday rushed to the scene of a capsizing fishing boat off the coast of Libya.

And today the Niamh arrived in Palermo, Sicily with 367 people on board, one of them being a one-year-old baby girl.

It is feared that as many as 200 people may have drowned when the boat tipped over, apparently after people on board rushed to one side of it after rescue ships were spotted.

Only a relatively few bodies have been recovered thus far.

In a message posted online, the Irish Naval Service stated: “Our crew on the LÉ NIAMH had a difficult day yesterday, with the recovery, in tragic circumstances, of 14 deceased persons amongst the hundreds they had saved.

“As they make their way this evening to a port of safety, we want them to know that we understand and appreciate the sheer effort required of them to accomplish the mission. Sad work, LÉ Niamh, but good work.”

The rescue effort was being reported worldwide.

The Chicago Tribune reported that a fishing boat carrying an estimated 600 migrants capsized.

Reported the Tribune: “The Irish naval vessel Le Niamh was one of several ships requested by the Italian coast guard to speed to the rescue of the overturned boat shortly before noon, Irish Captain Donal Gallagher told The Associated Press by phone.

“Gallagher said that according to preliminary reports some 150 migrants were spotted in the water after the smugglers’ boat, which was estimated to have been carrying 600 migrants, overturned. ‘An Italian (military) helicopter has dropped additional life rafts’ into the sea, Gallagher said.

Also involved in the rescue were an Italian vessel and a boat operated by Doctors Without Borders.

Added the report: “Fleeing war, persecution and poverty, the migrants travel overland for weeks or months from sub-Saharan Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia to reach Libya. There they set sail in flimsy motorized rubber dinghies or rickety old fishing boats. When the boats have problems, someone aboard contacts the coast guard by satellite phone requesting rescue. Other boats in distress are spotted by Triton air surveillance.

Most of the migrants hope to find asylum, relatives or jobs, mainly in northern Europe.”

As many as 2000 have died so far this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.

CNN reported Ireland’s defense minister, Simon Coveney, as saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their lives, the survivors and the rescuers for whom this is an extremely difficult operation.”

According to the Irish Naval Service the LÉ Niamh was tasked to the rescue at 8 a.m. Irish time by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre which estimated that 600 people were on board the stricken fishing vessel.

The Niamh arrived at the scene 110 kilometers north-west of Tripoli at 11.45 a.m. and deployed two rhibs (rigid hull inflatable boats) either side of the vessel; however the vessel capsized.

The LÉ Niamh (LÉ stands for Long Éireannach or “Irish Ship”) was joined at the scene by the Medécins Sans Frontiére ship Dignity One and a number of helicopters including Italian military aircraft.
The Niamh was sent to the Mediterranean a month ago to replace the LÉ Eithne.

Up to yesterday’s mission Niamh had rescued 1,280 migrants from vessels off the North African coast.

It can be grim work. Last week, the Niamh’s crew recovered 14 bodies from a barge west of Tripoli during one of its missions.

iHOPE Special Olympics 2015

POSTED ON August 5th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Sarah Jane Donohue with her therapist Dr. Nia Mensah

By Áine Ní Shionnaigh 

letters@irishecho.com

iHOPE Special Olympics 2015

“If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” reads the conclusion of the Special Olympics athletes’ oath. Bravery is at the core of the Special Olympics movement. The athlete’s bravery is central. Equally importantly however, is their parent’s bravery. Our world, although it pretends not to, is totally biased towards outward appearance. Perfection is the ultimate goal. Imperfections must be perfected, whatever the cost. To expose children who are ‘imperfect’ in the eyes of the world takes tremendous courage. I was gifted with this courage on Thursday and Friday last when Grace Anne took to the hallways of her school, www.ihopenyc.org, to compete in the Summer Olympics in her gait trainer and on her bike.

Ironically when one is a parent of a child with special needs, special occasions and events usually pose more of a challenge and are sometimes easier avoided. A few months ago when Dr. Nia Mensah, Physical Therapist, came bounding into the office with the idea of an iHOPE Summer Olympics, I expressed excitement outwardly but inwardly a little knot had started to form. As the event drew closer, I found myself getting caught up in the growing excitement and decided to face the challenge head on and am so glad I did.

At the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony at iHOPE on Thursday last, there was a palpable sense of occasion and anticipation, parents, grandparents and iHOPE staff all gathered to celebrate their children. A staff member, Maria Garzon sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ followed by a student parade and the ‘Carrying of the Torch’ by one of our students, Anthony Dixon. The games took place from 1.00pm to 4.00pm both days and included: a vision game of Stack Them Up, Knock Them Down, Scoot the Boot, Sports Fishing, Ladybug Race, Hope Hoops, Volley Ball, Bubble Smash, followed by the more serious Timed Power Wheelchair Obstacle Course, Cycling and a 50 meter dash in gait trainers.

Experiencing Grace Anne participate in the iHOPE Summer Olympics changes the way other people may perceive her in the world. Grace Anne has a great deal to offer the world. Although I have one of the most beautiful, happiest children, I often have to cloak myself against the looks of pity, the endless comments: ‘I could never do that’, ‘what a shame, she could have been…’, ‘you are great, I could never cope with that’, ‘God won’t give you a cross you can’t carry’. Being the parent of a child with a disability extends the parameters beyond the place to which most people can relate so they feel the need to ‘console’ which is not what parents of children with special needs want. They want to celebrate their achievements which is what we did last week at iHOPE.

Grace Anne has taught me the real meaning of unconditional love, happiness, perseverance and determination. She is a cute, clever, red haired, blue eyed, freckle faced little girl who was born with a happy fighting spirit and is tuned into a better quality frequency than the rest of us. Because of her reaction to the iHOPE Summer Olympics, I now feel obliged to share Grace Anne more with the world, she’s too precious to keep to myself. I need to share her happiness, perseverance and determination with the world at large.

I feel when people come in contact with our children here at iHOPE, their perceptions change drastically. The greatest thing I can do is to change the hearts and minds of people without disabilities so that they will realize the great value of these children and not feel pity for them and their parents.

Grace Anne’s amazing school: iHOPE, the International Academy of Hope, www.ihopenyc.org, which has succeeded in giving back hope to Grace Anne and I and countless other children. iHOPE has the chance to change the lives of children that everyone else has given up on. Its purpose is to give hope to special children and their families and that it does. I now believe iHOPE can give back hope to the community outside and give a richer meaning to others lives. To see an atmosphere that takes equality seriously, please schedule a visit to iHOPE here in NYC where you will meet many children that had been given up on previously, come to life, smile, talk, shout, sing, participate, attract attention for the right reasons. Step into iHOPE and root for Hope, Equality and our common humanity. My contact details are with the editor.

There are too many people to thank individually, a heartfelt thanks to everyone in iHOPE for everything that led to two amazing days of Summer Olympics. I have never seen our children so happy. Thank you to our Founder, Patrick Donohue, a proud Irish American whose vision and stamina has led to the founding of the first school in NYC solely for treating children with brain injuries. Groundbreaking in its treatment and approach, iHOPE is becoming a model of excellence for treating children with brain injuries across the US and indeed across the globe. Go raibh maith agat Padraig agus maith thu.

“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. (Victor Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning).

NINA was reality, not just a myth

POSTED ON August 4th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

Is “No Irish Need Apply” historical fact or myth?

There is an argument, but we’re backing Rebecca.

The Daily Beast reported recently that the Internet had been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth.

“All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong,” the DB reported.

The report stated; “Rebecca Fried had no intention of preserving the record of a persecuted people whose strife was ready to be permanently written off in the eyes of history as exaggerated, imagined, or even invented. That’s because Rebecca was too busy trying to get through the 8th grade.”

Rebecca’s work focused on a 2002 paper by University of Illinois-Chicago history professor, Richard J. Jensen.

It was entitled “No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimization.”

Wrote Jensen at the time: “Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming ‘Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply!’ No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent.”

According to The Daily Beast report, Jensen’s view picked up traction over the last decade, but seemed to reach an unexpected fever pitch in the last few months.

Rebecca set about tamping down the fever.

According to DB, Rebecca never set out to prove the Jensen thesis wrong. She was just interested in an article her dad, Michael, brought home from work one day.

“Just for the fun of it, I started to run a few quick searches on an online newspaper database that I found on Google,” said Rebecca.

“I was really surprised when I started finding examples of NINA ads in old 19th-century newspapers pretty quickly.”

Rebecca’s curiosity was piqued. The more she dug, the more she dug up that pointed to the grim reality of the “No Irish Need Apply” phenomenon in the 19th century and into the 20th.

“I showed my dad right away when I started finding these NINA ads. We just didn’t know whether this was already widely known and, if it wasn’t, whether it would be viewed as a topic worth considering for publication,” Rebecca said.

She was about to be encouraged in the matter of publishing.

Enter Kerby Miller, recently retired professor of history at the University of Missouri.

“He’s written everything from Guggenheim-funded books about the 18th-century Irish to the PBS documentary Out of Ireland with Paul Wagner. In 1986, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for history,” the DB report stated.

Miller is also well known in Irish America as something of an academic dean when it comes to the history of Irish immigration.

Miller had been an early critic of the Jensen position, one he viewed as being revisionist.

“From the first, my responses to Jensen’s claims had been strongly negative, as were those of a few other scholars, but, for various reasons, most historians, social scientists, journalists, et cetera accepted or even embraced Jensen’s arguments,” he told The Daily Beast.

Miller had been trying to “bat down” the conclusions in Jensen’s paper for 13 years.

He told DB that he knew something was fishy from the outset. First of all, he had seen the (NINA) advertisements years ago – well before something like Google Scholar made them easy to search for – as a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the 1970s. But something else tipped him off.

“Even more suspicious is that it seemed to fit into a political or ideological framework, in addition to his own writing, which was obviously polemically bent,” he said referring to Jensen who paper ended thus: “Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.”

Miller said he wrote to Jensen at one point to contest his stance.

“Jensen’s email response to my criticisms was that they were to be expected because I was an Irish-American and a Catholic,” says Miller.

“In fact, as I responded to him, I am neither.”

Miller, according to DB, said he realized it might be an unwinnable fight when he went to New Zealand to present some work and was “bombarded” with questions as to why he didn’t believe Jensen.

“I hadn’t realized how extraordinarily dominant Jensen’s argument had become. I don’t know if that says something about the hierarchy of power in academia, or the others who accepted it because they bought into this revisionist interpretation.”

Miller could name other scholars who questioned Jensen’s motives. He even tried to talk some of them into writing about it.

“They knew from their own research, or strongly suspected, that Jensen’s arguments were wrong or fallacious. They were just too busy (to refute it) or preferred not to.”

Rebecca was busy. But not too busy.

“We didn’t know who to contact, but we saw that Professor Jensen’s article cited Professor Miller as someone who had erroneously believed in NINA, so we thought he might be a good person to try,” She told DB

“And he was obviously an expert in this area.”

“They contacted me on the first of May. All I did was fill them in on the story,” Miller told the Irish Echo while referring to the Frieds.

As it turned out, the story from Miller’s perspective would dovetail with Rebecca’s.

Continued the DB report: Miller opened up Rebecca’s thesis. He quickly realized all of the academics too busy to take on Jensen couldn’t have done it better than a 14-year-old.

Rebecca said that Miller then helped her and her father walk through what a scholarly article should look like.

And so it transpired that on July 4, when the very best of America is celebrated, Rebecca Fried presented to the world, and the Oxford Journal of Social History: “No Irish Need Deny: Evidence for the Historicity of NINA Restrictions in Advertisements and Signs.”

The Journal was the same publication where Jensen’s position was first revealed to the word.

“The article concludes that Jensen’s thesis about the highly limited extent of NINA postings requires revision, and that the earlier view of historians generally accepting the widespread reality of the NINA phenomenon is better supported by the currently available evidence,” Rebecca wrote in her abstract.

After a report in IrishCentral.com, Jensen congratulated Rebecca for her scholarship in the comments section, but took issue with her conclusion.

“I’m the PhD who wrote the original article. I’m delighted a high school student worked so hard and wrote so well. No, she did not claim to find a single window sign anywhere in the USA.”

Not the case, responded Rebecca, who is a student at the Sidwell Friends School in the nation’s capital.

“I do have to say that the article does in fact list a number of posted physical NINA signs, not just newspaper ads. Pages 6-7 catalogue a number of the signs,” she wrote.

Continued the DB report: “Jensen retorted with a numerical list of all of the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ signs he encountered in her essay—ending with, “That’s very rare. In Chicago, only 3 ads in over 50 years. How rare can you get?”

“Then, ever politely, Fried dropped the hammer.”

She wrote Jensen: “Thanks again for the response. This discussion is really fun for me, and I appreciate the opportunity to have it. Let me make one last point and then I promise I will shut up and give you the last word if you want it. You began this conversation by stating that the article ‘did not claim to find a single window sign anywhere in the USA.’ I think we now agree at least that this is not correct.”

She stated that even if it were 15 recorded instances per year or 1,500—the signs existed, the persecution was real, and discrimination of the Irish was not an imagined feeling, but a reality difficult to both express and quantify.

“NINA sign would be just as offensive and memorable to Irish-American and other viewers whether it was for a job, an apartment, a social club, a ‘freedom pole,’ or anything else,” she wrote.

“I’ll conclude by sincerely thanking you again for interacting with me on this. It is a real honor and I appreciate it.”

Later, Rebecca said she regretted how her comments came out, saying she “may have come off as insufficiently respectful.”

“He (Jensen) has been doing scholarly work for decades before I was born, and the last thing I want to do was show disrespect for him and his work,”

Kerby Miller wasn’t worried.

“I have the utmost admiration and respect for her. I really just want to be in the background of this. Rebecca is the hero,” he said.

Since Rebecca came out with her paper she has, somewhat ironically, joined Jensen in the Wikipedia “No Irish Need Apply” entry.

The entry reads in part: “Historians have hotly debated the issue of anti-Irish job discrimination in the United States. Some insist that the ‘No Irish need apply’ signs were common, but one scholar, Richard Jensen, argues that anti-Irish job discrimination was not a significant factor in the United States, these signs and print advertisements being most commonly posted by the limited number of early 19th-century English immigrants to the United States who shared the prejudices of their homeland.

“Subsequent research by Rebecca A. Fried, a high school student from Washington D.C. discovered numerous instances of the restriction used in advertisements for many different types of positions, including ‘clerks at stores and hotels, bartenders, farm workers, house painters, hog butchers, coachmen, bookkeepers, blackers, workers at lumber yards, upholsterers, bakers, gilders, tailors, and papier mache workers, among others.’ While the greatest number of NINA instances occurred in the 1840s, Fried found evidence for its continued use throughout the subsequent century, with the most recent dating to 1909 in Butte, Montana.”

Game, set and match to Rebecca.

Of course, and despite Rebecca’s tussle with Jensen, Irish Americans who take a keen interest in history have never doubted that the phenomenon of “NINA” was all too often a fact of life for their ancestors.

In recent years there has been one particularly striking example pulled from the mists of time – not one to do with signs in store windows, but rather a case in which the weapon employed against the Irish was not just a lead pencil but, in some instance, a lead bullet.

Rebecca, now that she has plunged into the Irish American story, would doubtless be interested in a tragic tale set not all that far from her D.C. home.

That would be the story of Duffy’s Cut.

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