Fr. Benny Fee praying at the grave in Clonoe, County Tyrone
By Ray O’Hanlon
Catherine Burns is this week at rest in her native County Tyrone.
Her remains had been flown to Ireland by Dr. William Watson, one of the leaders of the Duffy’s Cut excavation project in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
She is the second of the more than fifty Duffy’s Cut victims to be given a reburial in Ireland, the other being Donegal native John Ruddy.
Burns was just 29 when she died at Duffy’s Cut in 1832.
The cause of death was likely cholera, though murder at the hands of nativist gangs was also a possible cause.
Her resting place was unmarked and forgotten until Dr. Watson and his team from Immaculata University began work on the site in 2003.
“It was remarkable in all ways. Fr. Benny Fee said Mass and there was a great turnout for the reburial,” Dr. Watson told the Echo.
“It’s miraculous. This whole thing’s miraculous. I was sitting in the church and it was kind of like an outer body experience. I couldn’t believe it was happening. The choir, the sermon, the trappings of the mass, the whole community out. It’s just overwhelming,” he earlier told reporters covering the reburial.
He praised the effort by Clonoe Parish and the crowd that turned out for the funeral.
“This is incredible. It’s a lot of people, and good people,” he said.
According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, it was not known exactly where in County Tyrone that Catherine Burns was from. But Fr. Fee, Clonoe’s parish priest, said that “all of Tyrone belongs to Catherine Burns.”
The young immigrant’s remains were carried into the chapel by three women from the parish who are also called Catherine, along with a researcher from the Duffy’s Cut Project.
According to the report, during his sermon, Fr. Fee said it was an “awesome privilege” for the people of Tyrone to welcome Catherine Burns home.
He said she had set off for America because she had “no other choice”, adding: “she could stay at home and starve or she could gamble on taking the ship across the broad Atlantic and with a bit of luck, catch the tail of the American dream.”
Catherine’s square box-shaped coffin was buried beneath the Tall Cross of Clonoe, a few meters from the parochial house where a Tyrone flag was flying next to an American flag.
Catherine Burns had sailed to America on the John Stamp out of Derry. Others of who would become known the Duffy’s Cut Irish were on board the ship.
In the summer of 1832, 57 Irish laborers died while building the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad between Malvern and Frazer, not far from Philadelphia and at a site that, in recent years, became known to the wider world as Duffy’s Cut.
Duffy’s Cut is on land immediately adjacent to a railroad track used by SEPTA and AMTRAK.
From before the start of the excavation work, Dr. Watson and his colleagues believed that the deaths were caused not just by cholera, the reason reported at the time, but by murderous attacks carried out by local nativist and know nothing gangs.
Remains unearthed during the years of the Duffy’s Cut excavation have confirmed this view.
By no means all the Duffy’s Cut dead have been accounted for.
Dr. Watson and his team are now preparing to extract core samples for an estimated fifty men buried in a mass grave at the site, just yards from the railroad track.
Ricky and Chris Martin.
By Evan Short
Is surfing the greatest Irish American invention ever?
When George Freeth, born to an Irish father and Hawaiian mother, first came to prominence in 1907 for his seemingly miraculous ability to stand on a plank of wood and ride it onto the shore through the waves, he became a national sensation and the sport quickly caught on.
Now a little over a century later, two men from the Irish seaside town of Portrush are aiming to revolutionize the multi-billion dollar industry by reinventing the way surfboards are made.
Ricky and Chris Martin run the “Alive Surf School” in the small County Antrim town.
Frustrated at how flimsy current surf boards are, they decided to go about building their own more robust versions.
Fast forward three years and they have just come second in a competition that saw almost a thousand companies compete to meet and discuss their idea with Richard Branson.
Ricky, 35, told the Irish Echo that their hard work was finally beginning to pay off.
“The PR we got from the ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition has just been phenomenal,” he said in reference to a competition initiated by Branson.
“Even though we didn’t win it got our name out there and we are getting enquiries from all around the world about our ideas.
“Just the other day we got an email from a surf school in the Caribbean. We were bitterly disappointed not to have won ‘Pitch to Rich,’ but we gave it a really good shout and did the best pitch we could.”
So what is it that Ricky and Chris have invented?
“What we are doing is addressing something that’s a major problem in the surfing industry. I run a surf school and my biggest expense each year is the replacement of surfboards.
“We established that the main problem with surf boards is the use of adhesives, and how over time the adhesive deteriorates and destroys the board.”
This deterioration can happen very quickly according to Ricky.
“We were contacted by a guy from Lahinch (County Clare) who had bought five new surf boards for his school and in less than three weeks they started to fall apart.”
The brothers’ reinvention of the surfboard involved doing away with adhesive altogether, and bonding the surfboards foam via heat.
This leads to more robust boards that can last up to ten times longer than the existing models.
In addition, all material used is recyclable – making them the only company in the world able to claim one hundred percent green credentials for their board.
To reinvent the surf board is one thing, but what makes Ricky and Chris’ achievement even more impressive is that neither of them have any background in engineering.
“We were both reasonably inept when it came to the technicalities, but Chris locked himself away and is now a bit of an expert in heat bonding technologies.
“We also got a lot of help from local engineering companies and Queen’s University Belfast and the Northern Regional College.
“But my brother Chris thinks not being engineers has helped us a lot. We kept being told what we wanted to do wasn’t technically possible, but because we wouldn’t take no for an answer we kept going.”
Surfing in Ireland has grown dramatically in the last decade with over a hundred surf schools now offering lessons around the island.
Ricky, who runs the “Alive Surf School” says the reason is the quality of the waves.
“The surf scene in Ireland is huge and on various levels. On a professional level, Ireland has got best waves in the world outside Hawaii, and is now known for it.
“The whole of the west coast has world class waves – and hundreds of them. In the last ten or fifteen years Ireland has produced a number of world class surfers.
“I run the Alive Surf School and the level I work with would be beginner, and that would be anyone from the age of four up to 88.”
For more information on Ricky and Chris and their surfboards visit www.skunkworkssurfco.co.uk.
After balcony collapse, tributes,
prayers, law changes, fundraising
A moment of joy for Niccolai Schuster as he met his hero, Bastian Schweinsteiger. The newly signed Manchester United midfielder has paid his own tribute to the young Dubliner by posing for a new photo while holding this one.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Sadly, it is often the case that something has to go terribly wrong before it is made right.
Such has been the case with the Berkeley balcony collapse, a tragedy that was certainly preventable, but one which may well end up ensuring that no such tragedy occurs again, at least in Berkeley itself.
Just over a month since the death of six students and the serious injury of seven others, family and friends gathered in the California city beside San Francisco Bay to remember the dead, pray for the recovery of the injured, and express hope that the loss of lives and dreams were not entirely in vain.
The tributes even extended to the current U.S. tour by Manchester United, who paid their own tribute earlier this week before their game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
About fifty miles separated the playing field from Berkeley.
The gap was filled with silent thoughts and prayer as players and fans remembered the dead: Niccolai Schuster, Eoghan Culligan, Lorcan Murray, Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe.
The Manchester United connection had been forged by Niccolai Schuster, who, despite his German roots, had grown up in Dublin.
Niccolai was a soccer fan who followed the fortunes of the German club Bayern Munich, and in particular a player with one of the most recognizable names in world soccer, Bastian Schweinsteiger, signed by United in recent days from Bayern.
It was a photo of Niccolai Schuster with Schweinsteiger that circled the globe after the Berkeley tragedy, thus reinforcing the shared sense of a loss of life, decades before its natural ending.
As for the injured? Three of the most seriously hurt are still being treated in California.
According to reports, Aoife Beary from Blackrock in County Dublin, whose birthday the students were celebrating when the balcony collapsed, continues to have difficulty recognizing her family.
She is being treated at the Santa Clara Medical Center.
Her friends, Clodagh Cogley and Hannah Waters, are also being cared for at the center.
Clodagh Cogley (21) has already proclaimed her determination to move on with her life, even if she has to spend the rest of it in a wheelchair.
As the injured battle on, sports events and concerts in Ireland have been raising funds to meet the enormous costs of treatment and rehabilitation.
And the aftermath of the balcony collapse has focused attention not just on the particular apartment building where the disaster occurred, but all residential buildings in Berkeley and beyond.
Legislators have moved to make changes, and in Berkeley have already succeeded.
An effort to bring about change in the state of California failed at the first go but is expected to be revived.
In Berkeley, the City Council voted last week to ensure that all balconies, decks and stairways, will undergo a check in the next six months and after that every three years.
The balcony that collapsed, if it had been inspected, would have revealed rotted wooden joists linking it to the building wall. This was a disaster just waiting to happen.
Berkeley’s mayor, Tom Bates, told the Guardian newspaper that he believes the new measures will prevent a repetition of the tragedy.
“Although nothing we do can erase the horrible tragedy that occurred, I believe that the strict new regulations for balcony construction and inspections adopted by the city council last week are an important step toward our goal of doing everything we can to make sure this never happens again,” Bates told the daily.
“I have been deeply moved by the tremendous outpouring of compassion and support, both locally and abroad, for the injured, and for all the families and friends impacted by this terrible ordeal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the collapse and its awful consequences are under criminal and civil investigation by Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, and the California Contractors State License Board.
Only a little over a month has passed since the June 16 loss of life, and the profound change in life’s course for those who survived.
Family and friends held a month’s mind last week in Berkeley.
But their collective remembrance has only started on a journey that will last lifetimes.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Power sharing is in peril and North Deputy First Minister Martin Guinness is looking to the United States for a lifeline.
McGuinness is expected in the U.S. in the coming days to seek support for a resolution to the crisis threatening the future of the governing Executive at Stormont, the primary political product of the peace process.
Speaking ahead of meetings with the Congressional Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House, Mr. McGuinness stated: “The institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the Irish peace process for almost two decades, are facing crisis.
“This is an extremely grave situation and I would urge all those with a stake in this process to make every effort to find a resolution which secures the power-sharing administration.”
McGuinness expressed criticism of the British government, citing it for lack of imagination and drive.
“In order to redress this crisis, we require an imaginative and innovative solution which recognizes the particular challenges faced by our administration,” he said.
“That means ensuring the institutions are politically and economically viable and able to meet the needs of a society emerging from a long and bitter conflict.
“To date, that has not been forthcoming from the British government and they need to be persuaded that a new approach is required.
“It is my hope that the U.S. administration, which has been a key ally of the peace process since its inception, can help convince the British government of the gravity of the current situation which threatens to undermine the incredible progress we have made,” McGuinness said.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, British Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, is also expected in the U.S. in the next few days.
Meanwhile, Mr. McGuinness has told the British government that it must recognize the unique challenges facing the North.
A Sinn Féin delegation, also including Party President Gerry Adams, Vice President Mary Lou McDonald, and former MP Michelle Gildernew, met with British Prime Minister David Cameron at Westminster on Tuesday.
Speaking afterwards, McGuinness called for a renewed effort to restore the political and economic viability of the political institutions.
“Today’s engagement was useful and I believe that David Cameron can be in no doubt about the seriousness of the crisis we are facing,” McGuinness said.
“The political structures created by the Good Friday Agreement are at the point of imminent collapse due to the British government’s austerity agenda.
“Sinn Féin will do everything in our power to prevent a collapse from happening. Others – particularly the British government – must do the same.
Added McGuinness: “But for the institutions to survive, they need to deliver for all citizens, be they unionists, republicans or others. That requires a workable budget and a new approach and new investment from Westminster.
“The British government needs to accept the special circumstances of the North, as a society coming out of conflict, which lasted for almost thirty years.
“If we are to deliver for citizens, consolidate and build on the peace, create a peace dividend, which is tangible in deprived communities which suffered most as a result of the conflict, then the Executive needs the tools and the resources to address these deep-seated issues.
“Successive British governments invested enormous, at times limitless, resources in pursuing a military agenda. They now need to bring a similar commitment to building a still fragile peace.”
The FDNY’s Niall O’Shaughnessy
By Ray O’Hanlon
Niall O’Shaughnessy is a man you want in your corner, or to be just around the corner if you get into a spot of bother.
The Limerick native made headlines last year when, along with a fellow Irish-born FDNY member, Sean Cummings, he came to aid of a woman lying helpless on a subway track in Manhattan.
She was Irish too.
O’Shaughnessy and Cummings were both honored at the inaugural Irish Echo First Responders Awards last October.
The woman who was in danger of drowning in the Hudson River on Monday wasn’t Irish.
But her rescuer was.
Once again it Niall O’Shaughnessy of FDNY Rescue Zero One, a specialized paramedic unit trained to deal with the most serious emergencies, including water rescues.
O’Shaughnessy and his partner, Moses Nelson, were on station in their FDNY ambulance near the World Trade Center site when the call came in.
There was a woman in the Hudson struggling to stay afloat. Another few minutes and she would for sure go under.
The FDNY duo raced to the scene on Pier 25. Parks Department personnel had thrown the woman a lifebelt but she was having a hard time hanging on.
The Hudson is big water. It is turbulent, tidal and known for strong currents.
The woman called out that she was tired. There was nothing for it but to jump in as, at this point, there was no sign of a rescue boat.
“I took off my radio and boots and jumped in,” O’Shaughnessy told the Echo.
He reached the woman and made sure she was more secure on the life preserver.
“She was a little panicky when I first got to her but I reassured here that an FDNY rescue boat was on the way,” O’Shaughnessy said.
“I just told her to be strong, to trust me and to hang on with me until the rescue boat arrived.
Which it did in a matter of minutes.
“She was very grateful but also very upset,” said O’Shaughnessy of the woman he had just saved from a watery grave.
Rescued and rescuer were both taken to hospital.
O’Shaughnessy was ready to return to duty, but regulations require a check-up.
And after that the dreaded paperwork.
“That’s the first thing I thought about after it all. Oh no the paperwork,” said O’Shaughnessy with a laugh.
And there was more. The FDNY called a press conference.
Another laugh from the Limerick hero.
“I would rather jump in the river twenty times than stand in front of cameras,” he said.
But there was no avoiding the press gathering.
Still, after the questions and answers, it was early home.
Next day, however, Niall O’Shaughnessy was back on duty, all of us safer for his service.
The Moloney family reunion in Loughrea, Co. Galway
By Irish Echo Staff
Ireland, as we all know, is a place from where people depart.
But it’s also a place that lures them back, sometimes years, sometimes even generations later.
Family reunions in Ireland have become popular in recent years.
Often they are comprised of returning “Yanks” and their long lost relatives on the island.
Some reunions attracts members of the same extended family from the four corners of the globe
Often, people with the same family roots end up meeting for the first time.
One family that mustered in big numbers and from far and wide recently was a branch of the Moloney clan.
Over 150 members of the Moloney family, all descended from James and Anne Moloney, gathered in Loughrea, County Galway for a weekend that none will ever forget.
According to one of family members who helped muster the participants, Maggie Moloney Davis from New York, relatives came from all over Ireland and the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Indonesia.
The Moloneys have maintained strong links throughout the years, said reunion coordinator Ciaran Coakley, who currently lives in the UK.
The family homestead in Ross has been renovated and continues to be the force that keeps the family connected, he said.
Teresa Moloney and her son Raymond, who live in Ross, helped to make the reunion a success by welcoming all 150 cousins home.
Coakley thanked Maureen Fanthom from County Wicklow, who developed the Moloney family heritage website, and Sean Moloney, from County Galway, who coordinated the musical tribute to the Ballinakill Ceili Band, founded by his grandfather Stephen, his father Eddie and his uncle Kevin.
Maggie Moloney Davis, who was tasked with rounding up the American Moloneys, said that the gathering was an opportunity of a lifetime for generations of Moloneys to learn about, and celebrate, their family connections, and their Irish roots.
By Irish Echo Staff
Mitchell scholars will not be studying in Northern Ireland in the 2016-17 academic year.
Given severe cuts in Northern Ireland’s budget, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Employment and Learning, Stephen Farry, has informed the US-Ireland Alliance that his department will have to end funding for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program, this according to a statement from the Alliance which runs the scholarships named after former U.S. senator George Mitchell.
“This does not affect the Mitchell Scholarship program in Ireland, only Northern Ireland. And we will not be decreasing the overall number of scholarships we will award,” said Alliance president, Trina Vargo.
“We share the minister’s view that this is an unfortunate situation. As we have been following the budgetary crisis in Northern Ireland, this news did not come as a surprise.
“For those who do not follow Northern Ireland politics, there is an overall budget impasse. The entire higher education system has suffered and universities in Northern Ireland have had to decrease their student numbers as a result,” Vargo said.
And she continued: “While this will not affect the two Mitchell Scholars who will attend Queen’s beginning in the fall, it does mean that applicants for the next Mitchell Scholarship selection round (those who will apply by the October deadline) will not have the option of selecting Queen’s University Belfast or the University of Ulster for their year of study (fall 2016-spring 2017).
“As most do not submit their applications until September, they will have time to reconsider the many options in the Republic of Ireland. For those few who have already submitted, we will review applications and if Northern Ireland universities were selected, they will have the opportunity to resubmit.
“Queen’s and the University of Ulster are great partners in this program and we know that they find themselves in much the same position. The Mitchell Scholars who have attended Northern Ireland’s universities, and all the Mitchells who have visited during their year on the island, have been greatly enriched by the experience.
Vargo said that the Alliance was working to restore the program’s North connection.
“While the timing of the selection process is such that we have had to take this immediate step, we will continue to reach out to individuals and companies that may desire to see Northern Ireland remain a part of this prestigious program in hopes that interest and resources will reverse this situation in time to include Northern Ireland Mitchell Scholars in the Class of 2018,” she said.
California State Senator Lori Hancock and her husband, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates
By Ray O’Hanlon
Berkeley City Council has voted for measures that should ensure no repeat of last month’s tragic balcony collapse that killed six students (five Irish and one Irish American) and injured seven others.
But California state lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have increased oversight of contractors throughout the state in the wake of the tragedy.
Both votes came on Tuesday.
In Berkeley, the council voted for new regulations that will mean apartment building balconies being inspected every three years.
And according to reports in the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle newspapers, the council also voted to require that new balconies be made of corrosion-resistant material and be ventilated to prevent a buildup of moisture.
After the June 16 fatal balcony collapse it was discovered that wooden joists attaching the balcony to the apartment building had rotted.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the Berkeley council’s vote came after it heard from an attorney for one of the victims’ families.
“It would be an amazing compounding of this tragedy not to do something now and not to ensure that similarly designed and constructed buildings are not being inspected,” attorney Eustace de Saint Phalle said.
Stated the report: “He had called for yearly inspections. City staff had recommended inspections every five years. Some building group representatives had urged the council to hold off on the vote for further study.”
Evan as Berkeley City Council was moving to implement stricter codes, California state lawmakers were voting down a bill that would have required construction companies to disclose felony convictions and settlements to state regulators over construction defects.
SB 465, authored by Democratic Senators Loni Hancock and Jerry Hill, did not pass out of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. But it became what is called a “two-year bill” which allows backers more time to refine their proposal.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that SB 465 “may be revived if support is found.”
Hancock and Hill said they will continue to work on legislation to address one of the biggest concerns raised from the tragedy: how a state board was left in the dark about multimillion-dollar legal settlements involving the contractors they license, the report said.
Many senate committee members supported the bill’s intent, but worried about requiring a state agency to collect settlement data without understanding how it would be used in enforcement, the Bee reported.
Segue Construction, the company that built the Berkeley apartment, has paid more than $26.5 million in the past three years to settle lawsuits related to balcony failures. The Contractors State License Board was unaware of the cases because California state law does not require the company to report them to the board.
Reported the Chronicle: The bill fell one vote short of the majority needed to pass the 14-member Assembly business and professions committee. It was defeated in a party-line 7-3 vote, with Republicans voting against it. Four members did not vote.
Hill and Hancock had agreed to amend the bill to allow the state licensing board to determine whether reporting settlements and felonies was the right course, or if other oversight was needed. The lawmakers unsuccessfully asked their colleagues to pass the bill while they continued to work on it.
“This, in my view, is what shakes people’s confidence in government,” Hancock said after the vote.
“I’m very, very disappointed,” she said.
Prior to the vote, Hancock had released a statement arguing to approval of SB 465.
“I believe that the Berkeley balcony collapse was preventable had there been more accountability and oversight. What we have discovered since this tragedy occurred is that the builder of this building has had a history of sub-standard work, which the state oversight board was never aware of.
“This bill requires contractors to report legal settlements to the state board. This is not a new policy. We require this of engineers. We should require the same of the people that build our homes, apartments and other buildings,” she said.
For Hancock, there was at least a silver lining in the Berkeley City Council vote. Her husband, Tom Bates, is Mayor of Berkeley.
Both Hancock and Bates take a strong interest in Ireland and the North peace process and have visited Belfast.
Meanwhile, some of the seven injured students are making good progress, but a couple of the survivors are battling especially serious injuries.
It is expected that the families of the dead and injured will be initiating civil lawsuits.
Dr. John Lahey is now chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc.
By Ray O’Hanlon
John Dunleavy wasn’t ousted from any position.
But his ability to almost single handedly control the destiny of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade was severely diminished as a result of a position being filled.
As the fallout over the recent move in the parade power structure to effectively sideline Dunleavy continues to spread, Dunleavy himself appears to be digging in, and is seemingly determined not to relinquish his central role without a fight.
Just what effect this will have on the parade, its long term future, and the more immediate concern that is the standout year march in 2016, remains to be seen.
But long time parade observers are expressing fearful concern.
The parade, they feel, needs a new controversy like the proverbial hole in the head.
Nevertheless, it has one on its hands, and the consequences could be very serious indeed.
From conversations with some of the leading figures in what is now an evident standoff in parade circles, the Echo has pieced together a picture of what transpired before, during, and after an extraordinary conference call of parade directors that involved parade leaders contributing from both coasts of the United States, and from Ireland.
In the latter case, the participant was not John Dunleavy, who was visiting relatives in both Ireland and London when the conference took place.
The conference call took place against a backdrop of issues that leading members, including parade committee vice chairman, Dr. John Lahey, felt required immediate attention.
The issues had been discussed at the last meeting in April, described as a “lively” one by one participant.
The next formal board of directors meeting was not scheduled until the late summer or fall, probably a date sometime in September.
Members wanted to address the matter of a renewed broadcasting contract with WNBC, and also holding discussions with a gay and lesbian group that had applied to march in the 2015 parade, but had been turned down in favor of the LGBT group comprised of NBC employees that did take part in the 253rd march in honor of St. Patrick.
There had been a growing discussion over the need to include a gay marching group that would be readily identified as Irish.
The Green and Lavender Alliance, headed by longtime activist and co-organizer of the St. Pat’s For All parade in Sunnyside, Queens, Brendan Fay, was top of the list in this regard.
The conference call took place on Tuesday, June 30.
All involved were aware of a report carried by the Irish Central website stating that parade committee chairman John Dunleavy had met with executive from New York television channels other than WNBC with a view to offering broadcasting rights to the parade.
The report also portrayed Mr. Dunleavy as being opposed to the participation of any gay group in the 2016 parade.
At the same time, board members had been holding talks with parade director and 2012 grand marshal, Frank Comerford, the president and general manager of WNBC, with a view to extending the relationship with that network, this after the existing three year contract had expired.
The feeling among board members was that the matter of broadcasting rights, and the inclusion of a second gay marching group, were matters for the entire board, and not just one individual, to deal with.
The members also felt that a renewed invitation to the NBC gay group was warranted because it had marched properly in this year’s parade.
The phone conference, according to one source, had been flagged two weeks in advance. All board members, including Chairman Dunleavy, had been invited to participate.
However, Mr. Dunleavy did not participate in the June 30 conversation which included 13 of the parade’s 16 board members.
One of the participants was in Ireland, another in California.
The decision was made to renew with WNBC and invite a second gay group.
With regard to renewing with WNBC, the decision was unanimous. In the matter of inviting the second gay group, it was ten to zero with three abstentions.
But it was another decision, one which was intended to “clarify” John Dunleavy’s role in the parade that was to lead to rancor and rupture.
Mr. Dunleavy was, and remains, the chairman of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee.
But the chairmanship of a second parade entity, one set up in the 1990s and mainly at the behest of the late Jim Barker, was viewed as being vacant.
This second grouping is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc.
This is the legal entity that is ultimately responsible for the parade.
Directors, as one participant in the call put it, decided to end the situation where there was no chairman of the “Parade Inc.” – this so that there would be “no ambiguity” in the parade’s organization and running.
Dr. John Lahey was duly elected chairman of the Parade Inc. with John Fitzsimons as vice chairman. John Dunleavy’s chairmanship of the Parade and Celebration Committee was left untouched but the move shifted the center of power in the parade organizing structure – at least in terms of decisions as important as broadcasting rights and gay and lesbian group participation.
Looking to the 2016 parade, clearly a standout in historical terms, parade directors are hoping for full participation from New York City’s political leadership, not least Mayor de Blasio and the City Council who have boycotted the last couple of parades.
When reached by the Echo, Dr. Lahey said that the parade was a public event which required a license from the city each and every year.
Parade organizers, he said, had to be practical in their dealings with the city.
“The parade is bigger than any one of us,” Dr. Lahey said.
For his part, John Dunleavy, who is clearly angered by what has transpired, said that his “boss” was “the people who take part in the parade.”
He said that he would be examining and analyzing all that had occurred when he was out of the country, and only after that process was complete would he be making a statement.
An injured police officer is dragged from the front line by colleagues
By Anthony Neeson
Twenty-four police officers and a 16-year-old girl have been injured during disturbances following Belfast’s 12th of July parade on Monday.
With the Twelfth falling on a Sunday this year, the main parades took place the day after, and while the parades themselves were peaceful, violence once more erupted as loyalists tried to gain access onto the Crumlin Road in North Belfast.
Police had blocked off their route back to Ligoniel for the third year in a row after a determination from the Parades Commission, preventing them from passing through the nationalist Ardoyne.
Earlier in the morning a limited number were permitted to pass the same stretch of road on their way into the city center and the main Twelfth demonstration.
However, on the return leg, loyalists clashed with police not long after the parade reached the security barriers.
Further up the Crumlin Road, where nationalists had gathered near the Ardoyne shops, a car ploughed into the crowd trapping a 16-year-old girl underneath it.
Police and locals pushed the car over freeing the girl. She remains in hospital but her condition is described as stable. A man was arrested by police and remains in custody.
Holy Cross priest, Fr. Gary Donegan, said the car “went right over the top” of the girl.
“PSNI officers and local residents managed to lift the car off her,” he added.
“There were graphic scenes of seeing her feet sticking out from underneath the car. You could actually see the marks of the vehicle on the back of her jeans. She was very distressed.”
Meanwhile, 12th of July bonfires were in the spotlight this year as many as many were adorned with political posters of nationalist candidates, Irish tricolors, and effigies including one of hunger striker Bobby Sands, as well as Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Michelle Gildernew.
Ms. Gildernew hit out at those behind the displays.
“When are we going to see some courageous leadership from political unionism and the Orange Order when it comes to this hate filled practice of burning of effigies, flags and election posters on bonfires,” she said.
“Not satisfied with insulting the entire nationalist community by burning our national flag and candidates’ election posters, the organizers of these bonfires have now taken to burning effigies.
“A disgusting display of bigoted sectarianism is the bonfire at Moygashel depicting an effigy of myself accompanied by a message declaring it to represent a public hanging.
It also makes reference to a quote by former Ulster Unionist Leader, Tom Elliott, when he referred to Sinn Féin voters as scum.
“With that kind of leadership is it any wonder that these Neanderthals think this type of insult is part of their culture.”