Monday, November 30, 2009

McCreevy’s €1.2m golden handshake

McCreevy’s €1.2m golden handshake

By Mary Regan, Political Reporter - Monday, November 30, 2009

CHARLIE McCREEVY will get a golden handshake package worth more than €1.2 million when his term as Ireland’s representative on the European Commission ends in the new year.

Mr McCreevy will get an EU Commissioner pension of €51,068 per year on top of his ministerial pension of €70,710 and pension as a Kildare North TD of €52,213. This will bring his total annual pension to over €173,000.

The outgoing Commissioner for Internal Markets is entitled to a step-down payment of €537,000 over the next three years to help him adjust to losing his generous salary.

He will also get a lump sum of just under €20,000 on leaving office in January as a "resettlement allowance" to help his move from Brussels back to Ireland.

Mr McCreevy will not have to pay tax on these payments in Ireland, but will have to pay a "community tax" which is paid directly back into the EU’s budget.

During his five-year term in Brussels, Mr McCreevy earned more than €1.4 million including an annual salary of €238,919 as well as a €35,837 "residence allowance" for staying in Brussels and a €7,248 annual entertainment allowance. During this time, he continued to earn his €71,000 annual ministerial pension, which was not reduced when ministers took a pay cut earlier this year.

While his step-down payments will be made straight away, Mr McCreevy’s commissioner pension will not be made available until he turns 65 in five years’ time. It will be worth €853,000 over 16 years. Incoming commissioner, former justice minister Máire Geoghegan Quinn will earn a similar salary and will be entitled to continue claiming her €60,811 ministerial pension and €44,310 TD pension.

Mr McCreevy’s term officially ended in October. But, because of delays in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, he and his colleagues are staying on in a "caretaking" roll until the new team is put in place. That will not happen until after January when the new commissioners will have to answer questions of the European Parliament, which has to approve the entire commission before it is officially put in place.


Talk about “fiddling while the Republic burns”. This boggles one’s mind. We thought that our American politicians took good care of themselves. They are mere babes in the woods in comparison to the likes of Mr. McCreevy and Co. This level of pure greed is absolutely disgraceful while the country is on the brink of economic disaster.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Less of a Catholic

Less of a Catholic

By JOHN WILSON – New York Post – Nov. 28, 2009

News broke this week that Thomas Tobin, the Catholic bishop of Providence, RI, had in 2007 asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to refrain from receiving Communion because of the congressman's support for legalized abortion. The ensuing howls of protest almost universally missed the point.

Some Catholic writers charged that Tobin was sowing division within the church and "politicizing" the sacrament. On the pro-choice left, Tobin was flayed for everything from "religious blackmail" to -- inexplicably -- violating the separation of church and state.

Perhaps the strangest comment came from former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who predicted that if pols like Kennedy started listening to the bishop, "nobody would vote for Catholics" because voters would fear they'd "be guided by [their] faith."

Yet Tobin's stand has practically nothing to do with wielding political power -- and everything to do with preserving a coherent definition of what being Catholic means in the first place.

And, if he succeeds, it might go a long way toward returning some thoughtfulness to America's public discourse.

It's a steep mountain to climb: Kennedy is heir -- literally as well as figuratively -- to a long line of pro-choice, self-professedly Catholic politicians who've managed to pretend to be in line with the Catholic position on abortion while in fact flatly ignoring it.

"The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic," Kennedy said earlier this month, criticizing the US bishops' opposition to any public funding of abortion as part of ObamaCare.

His statement tracks well with Cuomo's famous 1984 pronouncement that, while he's opposed to abortion in his "private observance" as a Catholic, he sees no need "to press the case that our morality should be everybody else's" -- i.e., to work for an end to abortion in law.

That's essentially been the line taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Gov. Paterson, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- and, of course, Kennedy's father, the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.

It's also, logically speaking, nonsense.

Kennedy, Cuomo & Co. are essentially saying, per the Catholic understanding, that they believe an unborn child to be an innocent human being possessing full human dignity -- yet the state is under no obligation to protect that child from intentional violent death.

This is why the church presents its opposition to abortion as a matter of social justice, not just personal morality: There's a necessary, logical link, it reasons, between the belief in a just and loving God and the responsibility of a political leader to strive for justice.

So, what's behind all the grief Tobin's been taking?

Part of it, undoubtedly, is cultural: For families like the Kennedys, Catholicism is often as much a marker of clan identity as of creed.

From that perspective, the bishop's insistence that the faith makes demands on one's actions would smack of coercion -- much like threatening to snatch a prized heirloom from the parlor.

But if, as Tobin insists, the church is a communion of believers, then it's entirely Kennedy's choice whether to sign on.

The broader critique -- that the mere expectation that politicians allow their faith to influence their public duties smacks of theocracy -- is just as vapid.

By that logic, the biggest violator of church-state separation in US history would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- though it's doubtful Cuomo would say Americans would fear his being "guided by faith."

In reality, the Catholic Church is simply the strongest repository nowadays for a fully public and reasoned argument: that unborn children, possessing the attributes attendant human life, deserve the protection of law.

The faux pluralism that recoils from "imposing" a "religious" viewpoint merely allows Kennedy, Cuomo and Pelosi to duck that argument entirely -- all while pretending to remain faithful to Catholic doctrine.

Catholics, as a practical matter, may argue over precisely how far bishops should go in rebuking pro-choice pols -- though one should note that Tobin's dealing with Kennedy was fairly cool-headed.

He brought his concerns to the congressman in private -- and only spoke out publicly when Kennedy implied that a faithful Catholic can believe whatever he darn well pleases.

No surprise there: A bishop's job is to teach the faith.

The rest of the country should wish him well, too. Anyone who prompts our politicians to show more intellectual honesty can't be half bad.


It is, indeed, refreshing to read an article by a writer with the intestinal fortitude to speak in support of a Catholic Bishop who has done nothing more than explain the Church’s position on abortion and a Catholic layperson’s obligation to abide by that position if he or she chooses to remain in communion with their Church. As the writer so aptly states, he has done his job and done it well. Congratulations to John Wilson on a courageous and well written article!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Flood areas braced for another bruising week that nightmare is not over for victims

Flood areas braced for another bruising week that nightmare is not over for victims

By Breda Heffernan, Aidan O'Connor and Aine Kerr
Saturday November 28 2009

THE nightmare is set to continue for people living in flood-hit areas who were last night warned to be "extremely vigilant" as high tides are expected next week.

The grim news comes as many parts of the country are already balanced on a knife-edge, particularly in Galway, Athlone, the Midlands, Ennis and the lower Shannon area.

The weather is set to enter a cold snap with temperatures tumbling below zero after nightfall with the chance of wintry showers.

Environment Minister John Gormley predicted flood-stricken areas could be in for another bruising week. While rainfall has abated, there will be an increase in tide levels and these, mixed with high winds, could pose major risks for the Limerick and Shannon banks areas.

"Next week is a time of extreme vigilance. I'm hoping that we can avert the problems we saw last week," he added.

National Emergency Response Committee chairman Sean Hogan said last night that areas around the Shannon remain the worst affected and "no early end to the current problems are in sight".

"There hasn't been any significant change in the heights of the lakes, Lough Derg and Lough Ree. Even with good weather conditions where rain has ceased, it could take up to three weeks for normal water levels to return to the Shannon catchment area," he warned.

Both lakes are already up to 1.5 metres above normal levels for this time of year. Mr Hogan said the committee's particular focus over the next five days will be on the Shannon Estuary, Limerick and its environs with high tides due to hit from the middle of next week.

Homeowners and business people in Limerick face an anxious few days as water levels on the Shannon are expected to rise by as much as one metre. They have called for hourly updates on discharge rates at Parteen Weir.

The ESB said last night that it would continue to maintain the same rate of discharge from the weir but that the situation was under constant review. It added that while the level of water in Lough Derg had risen by 1cm in the previous 24 hours, the rate of increase was slowing.

A precautionary boil notice affecting about 2,000 customers was issued by Limerick County Council yesterday.

It affects households connected to the South West Regional Water Supply and the Feohanagh/Castlemahon Group Water Scheme.


In Co Galway, where about 3,000 farms are under water, the Irish Farmers' Association began its distribution of emergency fodder to the worst-hit farms surrounding Gort, Ballinasloe and Banagher.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith yesterday announced a �2m fodder aid scheme for farmers affected by the floods. Farmers will have to show that fodder, whether silage, hay or concentrates, was damaged due to the recent flooding.

"It is important that the funds made available by the Government are paid as quickly as possible. I therefore encourage only those farmers who are directly affected to complete and submit the application without delay," said the minister.

Forms are available from the Department of Agriculture's website, local offices and from Teagasc offices and must be returned before December 11.

Meanwhile, 67 soldiers are involved in various flood operations. Troops in Athlone yesterday bussed residents from Clonbunny in Co Westmeath to Athlone to allow them to get shopping.

Westmeath County Council said it had distributed 20,000 sandbags to help stem the flow of flood waters.

Flood levels in Co Leitrim receded slightly yesterday, while in Roscommon, council staff built up more than 1km of roadway in the south of the county to allow residents to get to their homes.

Mr Hogan said that between 500-600 families have been forced to evacuate their homes already.

"This is affecting at least 1,500 people so far and it could be more because these are just estimates," he said.

"It's on a scale that we have not seen for generations.

"The water levels are exceedingly high around the Shannon region -- it's unprecedented. The water level in Lough Ree is half a metre higher than the previous highest ever recorded. It's 0.3 of a metre higher in Lough Derg as well.

"While there is some indication that things have stabilised slightly, there are huge volumes of water in the Shannon catchment that have to be cleared, and that's going to take some time.

"The rainfall has been phenomenal over the past 30 days. There is flooding that has never been seen in living memory."

He also issued a warning that people should refrain from taking any risks in what is a very dangerous situation in many parts of the country:

"There's been no loss of life so far, but people can't let their guard down," he said.

"We don't want to lose anybody in this -- I want to see lifejackets on people."


The situation in Ireland today is one of desperation as a result of extensive flooding and the worsening economy. The latest budget report is due to be announced next week and preliminary reports are that it will bear more grim news for the people of the Republic of Ireland who are still reeling from the previous cuts in government services. The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America is a charitable organization dedicated to our Catholic faith and our cherished Irish heritage. Perhaps now, as we approach the Holy Season of Christmas, would be a perfect time to think about rendering some much needed assistance to the people of Ireland in their time of need.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Providence bishop says he asked congressman privately not to receive Communion

Providence bishop says he asked congressman privately not to receive Communion

By Catholic News Service - Posted: 11/27/2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) -- The bishop of Providence said he was "disappointed and really surprised" Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., made public a letter he wrote to the congressman almost three years ago about his practice of the Catholic faith and reception of Communion.

"This comes almost two weeks after the congressman indicated to local media that he would no longer comment publicly on his faith or his relationship with the Catholic Church. The congressman's public comments require me to reply," Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said in a Nov. 22 statement.

His remarks came after Kennedy told The Providence Journal daily newspaper that Bishop Tobin "instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion."

The newspaper said Kennedy declined to give details on when or how the bishop issued such an instruction.

Bishop Tobin said that in a February 2007 letter to Kennedy he stated: "In light of the church's clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."

Kennedy supports keeping abortion legal.

Bishop Tobin said he told the congressman he was writing to him "personally and confidentially as a pastor addressing a member of his flock" and had no intention of making the matter public.

What prompted the letter, he said, was a statement approved by the U.S. bishops in late 2006 that outlined the preparation needed to receive Communion worthily and said serious sin is a bar to receiving the Eucharist.

Titled "'Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper': On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist," the document says that a Catholic who "knowingly and obstinately" rejects "the defined doctrines of the church" or repudiates "her definitive teaching on moral issues" would not be in communion with the church and therefore should not receive Communion.

In his 2007 letter, Bishop Tobin said, he offered to meet with the congressman to discuss the situation.

In a response at the time, Kennedy told the bishop he had the "utmost respect for the work you do on behalf of the Catholic community in Rhode Island."

"I understand your pastoral advice was confidential in nature and given with the best intentions for my personal spiritual welfare," he said.

In his Nov. 22 statement, Bishop Tobin said he was disappointed Kennedy "would make public my pastoral and confidential request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being."

He said he did not want to continue public discussion on Kennedy's faith life but "will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the church or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry."

Bishop Tobin said his door is always open to Kennedy to discuss such matters with him and he will "continue to pray -- sincerely and fervently -- for his conversion and repentance, and for his personal and spiritual well-being."

The exchange of comments between Bishop Tobin and Kennedy began when Kennedy criticized the U.S. bishops in October for threatening to oppose health care reform unless the legislation banned the use of federal funds to cover abortion.

In an Oct. 22 interview, Kennedy said their stance was "fanning the flames of dissent and discord."

Bishop Tobin asked for an apology from Kennedy at the time and requested a meeting, which was eventually scheduled for Nov. 12 but later postponed.

In an Oct. 29 letter Kennedy sent to the bishop, he stated: "The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic."

In a column in The Rhode Island Catholic, his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Tobin asked if as a Catholic, Kennedy really understands what it means "to be a Catholic" and question if he could describe himself as Catholic since his stance on abortion was "unacceptable to the church" and "scandalous to many of our members."


Bishop Tobin’s position was and is that he never issued any edict demanding that Rep.Kennedy not take Holy Communion. Rather, he requested in view of Kennedy’s public position which was and is pro-abortion that he do the right thing and not receive Communion. The Catholic Church is very clear on this issue and if Kennedy insists on maintaining his position, he should not be a hypocrite and continue to receive Communion while opposing the Church’s rules concerning abortion.

U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) should never have chimed in and supported Kennedy. Now, we have another supposedly “Catholic” member of Congress who has publicly stated that he supports the abhorrent practice of abortion. With regard to the spineless weasel, Chris Matthews, many believe he should be fired for the reprehensible display of disrespect that he showed toward Bishop Tobin during his recent television interview. Matthews, by the way, is a graduate of Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA and like the two Congressmen professes to be Catholic.

As the pre-eminent Irish Catholic fraternal organization in the United States, my belief is that the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America should be proud to stand firmly and publicly behind Bishop Tobin in opposing this very serious attack on our Catholic faith by these three public figures.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Northern Catholics count their blessings

Northern Catholics count their blessings

Fri, Nov 20, 2009 – The Irish Times

OPINION: With gloom in the South, Catholics in the North are glad to be part of a separate economic system, writes CONALL Ó MÁIRTÍN

Despite the doom and gloom that persists in the South at present, the situation in the North is not quite as pessimistic.

Northerners have had the distinct advantage or disadvantage, whatever way you might perceive it, of being under a separate state of economic governance, which has allowed us to escape the same economic depression that has forced many in the South of the country to escape to warmer climes with the increased promise of work and a sunnier outlook on life.

Arguments about the perceived good or bad of Nama (National Asset Management Agency), the fallout between public sector workers and those who have bled the country dry in the past 10 years, do not exist here.

While we in the North pay regard to the current economic situation in the South, it is clearly from a distance and with a view to discovering if Nama will affect house prices in the North.

It is the sign makers and sellers of discount drink and electrical items in and around Newry who are most troubled by the economic situation in the South.

We in the North, while also experiencing house price rises, did not experience anything like the boom that pervaded the Celtic Tiger part of the country.

I firmly believe that the Celtic Tiger only affected the Pale and its surrounding hinterlands, large areas of the rest and the west remained in isolation from the boom that engulfed the east.

The remainder of us waited for whatever trickled down to the lower levels, benefiting some but not all.

Now that the chickens have come home to roost, for once Northern Catholics are glad to be part of a separate economic system. While the downturn had required an adjustment in the spending practices of many people, only a small group who tried to jump on the get-rich-quick ship got totally burned.

For those in more lower paid employment, as is the case for the majority of workers in the North, housing has become more affordable again, first-time buyers can now afford their own home at a reasonable price.

I think that the most frightening situation for those under the governance of Stormont is the day when Sammy Wilson, or some other like-minded politician, gets a hold of the purse strings completely.

The longer such powers remain in Westminster, the better.

Conall Ó Máirtín is 30 and lives in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone. He teaches Irish at St Catherine’s College, Armagh. He graduated in law from Queen’s University Belfast. He worked for a time with the Jefferson Smurfit group in Dublin before entering teaching full time.

He is also a Gaelic Games analyst for TG4 and a regular contributor to BBC Radio Ulster


The vast majority of Irish Americans would take the same position as the generations before us, that of “a free and united 32 county Ireland” at any cost and as soon as possible. This is most assuredly an admirable goal and one to which I, for one, am totally committed. Obviously, the writer of this article has a different point of view. He seems to be content with the current form of government in the North. One cannot help but wonder how many Nationalist people in the North share his opinion especially the younger generation who tend to be somewhat more pragmatic than those in previous generations. They can’t be condemned for their beliefs. After all, isn’t it true that in any society formed under the principles of democracy, the political agendas and individual points of view of all members of that society must be respected?

Families united in grief for road tragedy victims

Families united in grief for road tragedy victims

Tributes are paid to the four students killed in N17 horror crash as survivor fights for her life


Sunday November 22 2009

Four families in desolation, another keeping vigil at the bedside of their critically ill daughter.
It is difficult to comprehend the devastation wrought on a black, rain-lashed night on the notorious N17 -- the road that links Galway and Sligo and which has claimed many lives over the years.

But last Tuesday night's unbearable loss of four young women on the cusp of life struck a particular chord. Yesterday, Sorcha Rose McLoughlin, 19, was brought from her home in Mulgannon, Co Wexford, to Clonard Church where Mass was celebrated. Then a sad cavalcade, from east to west, as Sorcha was taken to her parents' native county and the townland of Derreens in Achill. Today she will be laid to rest in the graveyard at Glencoe that stands above Achill Sound, Co Mayo.
As Sorcha was brought west, her friend Marie Stephanie Conneely, 19, was taken from her home at Derroe, Ballynahown, Co Galway, to Cill Treasa, Ros an Mhil, where a funeral mass celebrated her life.

She was laid to rest in nearby Muighrois Cemetery.

At the same time on the other side of the Corrib, Sarah Byrne, 20, was brought from her home to St Mary's Church in Headford and laid to rest in Cloughanover Cemetery.

Today, Teresa Molloy, 19, who was also studying Irish and translation studies, will be brought by her family to Seipeal Naomh Colmcill before being laid to rest in the cemetery in Leitir Moir.

Tears flowed freely yesterday as hundreds of people paid their sad farewells in Wexford and Galway. Cill Trease church in Rossaveal was packed for the funeral mass of Marie Conneely from nearby Ballinahown.

Chief mourners were parents, Noel and Noirin; and brothers, Padraig and Ciaran. Fr Sean McHugh said that the area had been shocked by the tragic deaths of the four young women.
"Our hearts go out to Noirin and Noel and to Padraig and Ciaran. They have been asked to carry a heavy cross," said Fr McHugh as Gaeilge.

There was also a huge attendance at the funeral of Sarah Byrne at St Mary's church in Headford.
Mourners were told by Fr James O'Grady that there were no answers to what had happened last Tuesday night, but there would be in the fullness of time. There had been shock and a great deal of pain since, especially for her family. Sarah is survived by parents Tom and Tina and brother Stephen.

Burial afterwards was at Cloughanover cemetery. Hundreds more said goodbye to Sorcha Rose McLoughlin in the Church of the Annunciation in Clonard, Co Wexford. Sorcha is daughter of Thomas and Rose Marie, and sister of Cian and Martin.
The chief celebrant, Fr Martin Doyle, said Sorcha had been brought home to the church where she had made her First Holy Communion, the church were she made her Confirmation. Her school in Kennedy Park was just a few hundred metres away, while she received her secondary education in Loreto Convent in the town.
"Sorcha was a naturally beautiful person," he said.
"She was a lovely person, loved by all who came across her in her short life. She was deeply loved and trusted by her neighbours and friends," said Fr Doyle.
"One sentence I have heard constantly over the past few days, ever since the tragic accident, is that Sorcha was a beautiful, loving and kind person. The west of Ireland where she met her death held a special place in Sorcha's heart and life.

"We all look to her here today and ask questions in our minds, as to why this had to happen to four beautiful young girls in the threshold of their lives. "I wish I could stand here this morning and give you an answer but I don't have one, for life on this earth sometimes bring experiences which are left unanswered."
The girls' great friend, Michelle O'Donnell, 21, from Inis Mor on the Aran Islands and who is studying the native language, is still fighting for her life in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

There were several twists of fate that took the lives of the four young students from NUIG. All had excellent attendance records at college but on a wet, windy, and miserable morning they couldn't find a parking space in the college campus when they arrived around noon.

Should they backtrack across Galway city in the rush hour to their home at the quayside? Sometime in those moments they decided to abandon classes for the day and take a spin to Sligo.
The plan was to do some Christmas shopping and to meet Shane Walsh, an old friend of Sarah's.

Sarah had worked in Keady's supermarket in her home town at week-ends and during holidays while Shane, who was studying at Sligo RTC, worked in the bar next door. Halfway home from college they took the left turn on the roundabout that brought them on to the N17 and out through Claregalway, Tuam, and past Milltown and on towards Ballindine, where hours later the four of them would meet their end.
By the time they left Sligo in the small blue Peugeot, it was already dark, the weather had closed in and rain driven by strong Atlantic gales lashed the west. Shane sent texts to Sarah to be careful.

The girls had just crossed the border into Co Galway when they were involved in a head-on collision with a yellow pickup truck. The girls who died; Sorcha, Marie, Teresa and Sarah were all passengers. The car was driven by their friend Michelle.
The scene of the crash at Carrinurlar is between two treacherous and deceptive bends known locally as Coyne's bend and Hernon's bend. It appears the Peugeot came around the corner where the road dips sharply.

Control was lost and the car slid sideways and ploughed into the truck travelling in the opposite direction. The two doors on passenger side took the brunt of the impact.

Three of the women were pronounced dead at the scene and the fourth was rushed to Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, but could not be saved. Michelle, was also brought to Mayo General.

Her father, John, who is coxswain of the Aran Islands lifeboat, and mother Nora braved a sea storm to get across to the mainland to her bedside in Castlebar. She was later transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

The driver of the truck Patrick Kelly, 42, broke his ankle and is deeply shocked by what happened.

Even as the emergency services tried to free the injured from the car, the girls mobile phones were ringing. Teresa Molloy's boyfriend had heard about an accident on the radio and was desperately trying to reach her.

Less than a month ago, the five girls went over to Inis Mor to celebrate Michelle's 21st birthday.
Now Michelle's four friends are dead and she is fighting a desperate battle for her life.


Your prayers are respectfully requested for the families of these four young girls who were tragically killed in a horrific auto accident this past week and also for the driver who remains in critical condition. Two of those killed, Stephanie Conneely and Teresa Malloy, were from neighboring villages to my home in the Connemara Gaeltacht and were well known to my wife’s neices and nephews. Ar dheis De go raibh na anamacha agus Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas soiri na anamacha

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama to push immigration overhaul

Obama to push immigration overhaul

By New York Times | November 14, 2009

NEW YORK - The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday. In her first major speech on the overhaul, Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after elections next November.

Laying out the administration’s bottom line, Napolitano said officials will argue for a “three-legged stool’’: tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who hire them, a streamlined system for legal immigration, and a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status. ’’Speaking at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group in Washington, Napolitano unveiled a double-barrel argument for a legalization program, saying it would enhance national security and, as the economy climbs out of recession, protect American workers from unfair competition from lower-paid, easily exploited illegal immigrants. Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants who hope to gain legal status would have to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check, and learn English.


Assuming that the timeframe in Secretary Napolitano’s statement above is etched in stone, the time has come for the Ancient Order of Hibernians to “fish or cut bait”. If our National Board plans to take a leadership role in the upcoming immigration reform campaign, it would be very advisable for the National Chairman of Immigration to start “burning the midnight oil” and begin learning some of the intricacies of the current laws and how to achieve the necessary changes in them. Of course, the other option is always available and that would be to step aside and allow other immigrant advocacy groups to spearhead the campaign and be satisfied for the A.O.H. to play a secondary role. That would be a drastic change from our long standing policy of being the national leader in lobbying for the passage of immigration legislation that directly affects Irish immigrants especially those currently living in the United States in an undocumented status. Our National Constitution requires us “to work with other groups to secure a fair and equitable U.S. immigration policy for Ireland”. That simply means that we will work in conjunction with other groups to achieve a common goal.

Under no circumstances, should we ever lose our autonomy as the pre-eminent Irish American organization in the U.S. working on behalf of Irish immigrants.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Justice Scalia: 'I Have Religious Views...They Have Nothing to Do with My Job'

Justice Scalia: 'I Have Religious Views...They Have Nothing to Do with My Job'

Posted: 11/14/09

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has never passed up the opportunity in abortion cases to remind his colleagues that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision continues to divide America. In a 2000 dissenting opinion, he chided such centrist conservatives as Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy for earlier predicting a truce of sorts in the abortion wars.

"While I am in an I-told-you-so-mood," he wrote in Stenberg v. Carhart, "I must recall my bemusement ... at the ... expressed belief that Roe v. Wade had 'called the contending sides of the national controversy to end their national division' ... and that the decision in [the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v.] Casey would ratify that happy truce."

For more than two decades, Scalia has stood out among even his most conservative colleagues in angry opposition to abortion rights. As the abortion debate now clouds negotiations over federal health care legislation, it is plain that – irrespective of how far to the right Scalia has been on the substance of the abortion dilemma – he has been dead right about the enduring controversy.
Further, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' pressing for a ban on any abortion financing in the health care legislation, Scalia, a Roman Catholic, brings to the fore the salient question of how religion influences one's view of abortion.

At the Supreme Court, where there are now six Catholic justices, that question is increasingly in the air, yet has swirled most around Scalia. When he joined the Supreme Court in 1986, six Roman Catholic justices already had served over the years, beginning with Chief Justice Roger Taney in 1836. The Catholic William Brennan was still on the bench when Scalia was named, and several other Catholics have served since. The Catholics with Scalia among the current nine are Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

Yet, more than any of them, Scalia, who was raised in a strict Catholic home, then attended a Jesuit high school and the Jesuit Georgetown University, has been identified as a Catholic justice. Scalia publicly presents himself this way, and the news media have reinforced the importance of Catholicism to his life and his sense of himself. During an interview last year on CBS' "60 Minutes," Scalia was asked about the fact that he and his wife have nine children. "We didn't set out to have nine children," Scalia said. "We're just old-fashioned Catholics, playing what used to be known as 'Vatican roulette.'" In a more serious vein, Scalia has spoken publicly about the importance of fidelity to the Church's traditional values, such as saying the Rosary and observance of all holy days.

What makes all this relevant in the abortion debate is that as Scalia is passionate about his religion, he is also passionately against the notion that the Constitution contains a right to abortion. From everything he says these are separate, parallel passions. "I am always reading a text and trying to give it the fairest interpretation possible. That's all I do," he says. "I have religious views on the subject. But they have nothing whatsoever to do with my job."

While Scalia rejects the notion that his Catholicism directs his rulings, he does acknowledge that, like his religion, his insistence on the wrongness of Roe stirs his deepest emotions. "Roe v. Wade was a lie," he says. "It still tears society apart and becomes a national political issue." Scalia insists that because the right to abortion was delivered up by appointed justices of the Supreme Court, rather than elected officials in the legislative process, it will never be considered publicly legitimate. (That assertion is undercut by the fact that a majority of people polled have long said women should have a right to abortion under at least some circumstances.)

There is no ignoring that Scalia's strongly stated religious views are in sync with his opposition to abortion. And the connection between these two emphases has long preoccupied Court observers and become part of the political debate. Some lawyers express discomfort at the suggestion that either Scalia is disingenuous about how his beliefs influence him on abortion or that serious Catholics could not think nonreligiously about legal matters. Yet other lawyers, pointing up the magnitude of the abortion question in American life, speak bluntly about Scalia's views.

One such critic is University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, who says he believes Scalia's Catholicism affects his anti-abortion-rights vote. Stone found it significant that the five justices, including Scalia, who voted in 2007 to uphold a federal ban on the abortion procedure known by critics as "partial birth," happened to be Catholics.

"Scalia is, of course, right that his general view about abortion is consistent with his larger judicial philosophy. Roe v. Wade is not defensible from the standpoint of an originalist," Stone told me in an interview, referring to Scalia's philosophy that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the understandings of its original Eighteenth century drafters. "But what made the [2007 Gonzales v.] Carhart case noteworthy was that the governing precedent was so clear. What caught my interest was that in a situation in which any open-minded and responsible judge would simply have gritted his teeth and followed the precedent, these five justices simply couldn't bring themselves to do so. Instead, they felt impelled to write a patently disingenuous opinion to avoid following a recent and clearly controlling decision. [Stone was referring to the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision striking down state "partial birth" bans.] This wasn't the product of a conservative judicial philosophy. It was the product of something more powerful. The only plausible explanation for their behavior was that they had a deep moral revulsion to following the law in this case."

Testing the religious, political or other non-judicial inclinations of a judge is not easy. The nature of the process dictates that a justice's reasons for a vote are explained through law, through precedent, through reference to statutes and the Constitution.

It is true that irrespective of Scalia's Catholicism, his conservative approach to the Constitution would likely dictate his opposition to abortion rights. Yet it is also true, as Scalia has told me, that one of the lasting lessons he has carried from his years of Catholic education is, "Do not ... separate your religious life from your intellectual life. They're not separate."


Justice Scalia is obviously a man who is at peace with his position as a United States Supreme Court Justice as well as with his deeply held Catholic beliefs. We are very fortunate to have a man of his high moral caliber on the highest court in the land.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Harney: Government to seek €1 billion cuts in health

Harney: Government to seek €1 billion cuts in health

By Gordon Deegan - Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Irish Examiner

HEALTH Minister Mary Harney confirmed yesterday her department will be making cuts of over €1 billion in the forthcoming budget.

Speaking at the Resus International Resuscitation Conference in Bunratty, Co Clare yesterday, Ms Harney also admitted to Government failings in managing the economy including the benchmarking pay increases to public servants.

Addressing over 350 delegates without a script, Ms Harney said €800 million in cuts would be needed and that doesn’t take into account the additional spend of €300m to €400m required every year in response to demographic pressures such as increased medical cards and increased numbers of elderly patients.

She said: "Even standing still, you need to find €300m to €400m extra every year just to do the same you did the previous year."

She said as a result the Government is looking at making cuts "of more than €1bn" in health for 2010.

She told delegates: "It is not going to be easy to find that kind of money, I want to be honest with you – it ain’t going to be easy."

Ms Harney said: "I have had hours and hours and hours of meetings on this over the last six weeks. Three hours of meetings yesterday, more this afternoon and more on Saturday and more on Sunday trying to find the most sensible and fairest way to identify that money."

At the country’s biggest emergency medicine conference, Ms Harney added: "Above all else to try to ensure that we maintain services to the patient, both in the community and in the hospital. If we are to do that, then all of us have to work smarter and differently. We have all got to work together in finding that solution."

Ms Harney said: "There is nothing we are not examining."

She pointed out that "workers in the public sector have guaranteed employment. That is something which is the envy of many people, not just in Ireland, but all over the world".

She confirmed that the Department of Health is looking at many of the recommendations of the McCarthy report and considering areas such as increasing the cost of drugs and, in order that hospitals should cut costs, increasing day care activity and shorter patient stays.

She said that the spend on health this year will account for 27% of the Government’s total spend.

She said: "If the Government has to raise €4bn by way of public sector expenditure cuts, clearly that is going to impact on a department like the Department of Health, which spends such a large percentage of public money."


Ireland has had government controlled health care better known as “socialized medicine” for years. In that time the Irish people have become accustomed to their health care needs being provided, for the most part, free of charge to the patient. This is not to imply that the cost wasn’t borne by somebody. That somebody was the Irish taxpayer. Is this scenario beginning to sound familiar? Does “Obamacare” begin to come to mind and does the same fate await us down the road if it is passed by the U.S. Congress? I certainly hope not.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Border to go as development sees Derry spill into Donegal

Border to go as development sees Derry spill into Donegal

By Seamus McKinney


The border is set to disappear in Derry as major developments on either side extend the city into the Republic.

The Irish News has learned details of a massive shopping, office and conference complex planned for Bridgend in Co Donegal.

Land and private funding for the £160 million scheme have been secured and backers hope to announce construction plans early next year.

Fronting the main Derry to Buncrana road, the development will be bounded by the busy border crossing.

However, it aims to complement plans to build 5,000 new homes on the northern side of the border, as well a new bus station at Coshquin with park-and-ride facilities.

The two major projects will mean the address ‘Derry, Co Donegal’ could soon be a reality.

The Derry/Donegal ‘gateway project’ at Bridgend will include a major anchor retail store with potential employment for 300 people, as well as cafe and restaurant facilities, offices and a conference centre.

A spokesman for developers Emerald Holdings – who are also behind the multi-million-pound Opportunity Omagh project in Co Tyrone – said they planned to draw heavily on the thousands of new homes which are to be built along the Buncrana Road.

Speaking exclusively to The Irish News, the spokesman said that with both developments to meet at the border, Derry’s urban mass would spread into Co Donegal.

Already many people working in Derry commute from homes in Donegal, while significant numbers cross the border to shop or buy petrol.

The spokesman said the developers would establish themselves on the southern side of the border so that users could take advantage of better corporate tax levels.

“The investors looked at the area and realised that before the Troubles the Buncrana Road corridor was a key economic area,” he said.

“They realised that if there had been no Troubles, there would have been a thriving economy along that corridor.

“Now with the peace process embedded they hope to fast-track that economic development.”

The spokesman said planning application had been lodged for the development.

“The money is in place. The land is in contract. We would hope to announce by the spring when we can move on site,” he said.

The Coshquin crossing point is also synonymous with the deaths of five British soldiers and Catholic man Patsy Gillespie in an IRA bomb in 1990, after he was forced to drive to a checkpoint in a car loaded with explosives.

This is a fine example of how far we have come in recent years. Hopefully there will be other similar projects that will be mutually beneficial to all Irish people from both the North and South.

A Veterans Day Message

A Veterans Day Message

To All,
Please remember to give thanks to our valiant American veterans of all wars and, indeed, all who proudly wore the uniform and served our country in her time of need. The very best way that we can remember those who are currently serving in places where they are in harm's way is to say a prayer for their safety now and their safe return to their loved ones and a grateful nation at the completion of their tour of duty.
The innocent victims of the recent carnage at Ft. Hood and their families deserve a special place in our thoughts and prayers on this day set aside to honor all of our veterans both young and old. All gave some, some gave all.
Yours in our Motto,
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America


Today is a day that we Americans, regardless of our ethnic backgrounds, set aside to honor all men and women who have answered our country’s call in time of need and proudly served in her military forces. It is, therefore very fitting that we remember them here today. May God Bless our Troops, our veterans, young and old, and the greatest country on earth.

(NOTE: Apologies for not posting this earlier. As experienced by everyone, computer problems occur at the wrong time.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cars for former taoisigh cost state €800k

Cars for former taoisigh cost state €800k

By Mary Regan, Political Reporter - Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - Irish Examiner

The perk of full-time garda-driven state cars for four former Taoisigh cost the taxpayer almost €800,000 last year.

The figure is set to rise to almost €1 million this year as a car has been made available to former Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton, who has returned from Washington where he served as EU Ambassador to the United States.

This will bring to five the number of former leaders who avail of the privilege, which comes on top of their pensions ranging from €90,000 to €100,000 a year.

They include Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds, both former Fianna Fáil leaders, as well as Fine Gael’s Garret FitzGerald and Liam Cosgrave, who left office 32 years ago.

The Labour Party is calling for a phasing out of the privilege, which costs an average of €200,000 a year for each former Taoiseach, who is entitled to avail of it for life.

The cost of €794,002 last year includes maintenance and fuel, salaries of garda drivers and cost of new cars purchased in 2008 where appropriate, according to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in response to a Dáil question.

The cost of providing 73 full-time gardaí as drivers for serving ministers, the President, former Taoisigh and the country’s senior law officers is estimated to be more than €2.1m.

But the Garda Press Office refuses to disclose the costs of salaries or overnight accommodation and subsistence claims for members of the force who stay away from home when chauffeuring officials.

Labour spokeswoman on finance Joan Burton said there is no longer a need for the provision of the 24-hour service for former Taoisigh.

"The security situation in Ireland is not what it was 20 to 30 years ago when these practices built up," she said.

Ms Burton said the Government is "in no position to lecture ordinary people on budget cuts" when such perks are still made available to former office holders.

"I think a much more economical approach should be worked out. We should adopt a policy in this country where cars are provided for a period of time after a Taoiseach leaves office but not for life," said Ms Burton.

She said former Taoisigh should only be entitled to state cars and drivers when they are on official business or should get an annual car allowance similar to junior ministers.

Last month, former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald said his pension and that of other ex-taoisigh should be cut.

"Ministers’ salaries have gone down 10% and they haven’t cut my pension. Every time the salaries went up, the pension went up. Now they have gone down, my pension should go down. I have said that several times and they didn’t listen to me," he told the Irish Examiner.


It would appear that “Life is Good” for politicians in Ireland long after they leave office. Some of them continue to have their noses stuck firmly in the “public trough” for life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A man in full: University of Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins gets his Irish up

A man in full: University of Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins gets his Irish up

By Niall O'Dowd - Updated Friday, November 6, 2009, 8:04 AM

As speeches go, it was one of the finest ever delivered at the American Irish Historical Society annual banquet, now over 100 years old and thriving. It was held Thursday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Fr. John Jenkins stood up as gold medalist and delivered a speech that reclaimed the Irish roots of Notre Dame in a way no other president of Notre Dame has.

He spoke movingly of his own heritage, his family roots on his mother's side, who were Condons from Cork, and the deep resources of faith, family and friendship that his Irish background bequeathed to him.

In the audience was Donald R. Keough, the man who created the Keough Naughton Institute of Irish studies, which has restored an Irish awareness to the campus that was absent too long. It must have been a proud night for him to see this heritage reclaimed.

Jenkins is quickly becoming a great college president, one to perhaps rival even Fr. Ted Hesburgh, the legendary leader of the college for 35 years from 1952 to 1987.

The baptism of fire for Jenkins was his invitation to President Barack Obama to be commencement speaker. Jenkins was assailed on every side by conservative alumni and angry bishops, who wanted him to cancel the invitation.

"You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them show respect for them and listen to them," he said at the time. As a Catholic leader, it was a fearless statement in the face of so much criticism

He faced the critics down, and Obama appeared to a rapturous welcome from the students and faculty. Those who really mattered most — the students themselves — perfectly understood what Jenkins wanted to do, to open up a dialog in the best Aquinas Catholic tradition. It is no coincidence that Jenkins is an expert on Aquinas.

On Thursday night, he took on another issue that has often been overlooked, some would say conveniently — and that is the deep Irish roots of the university. In this multicultural world, it has been fashionable to downplay those roots, to confine it to football fighting songs and the leprechaun who struts his stuff at games.

Jenkins, however, took a deep look at those important roots, talked about the four Irish brothers who helped Fr. Edward Sorin establish the school, and then of the initial term of derision, the Fighting Irish label attached to Notre Dame in a Michigan newspaper in the early 1920s.

He noted that turning that term of derision into the mission statement of a Catholic university at a time of deep anti-Catholic sentiment was the greatest achievement of the college in those troubled times.

He parsed and analyzed what the term fighting Irish stood for, and quoted Irish President Mary McAleese when she was commencement speaker at Notre Dame in 2006.
"By the Fighting Irish, we don't mean fighting in the sense of argumentative, though we might occasionally mean argumentative, but what we actually mean mostly when we talk about it is an indomitable spirit, a commitment, never tentative, always fully committed, to use the words that I got ... this morning, total commitment to life itself. No matter what life threw at them, and it threw quite a few wobblies at the Irish from time to time, that indomitable spirit that always sought to dig deep to find the courage to transcend, to keep going..."

That trumps a fighting leprechaun or a chant at a football game. What Jenkins was saying was that all of the Note Dame family, from whatever ethnic background, had made or were making the same journey Irish immigrants and their descendants did to keep the hope alive, to dream the dream.

He spoke movingly of his own mother, now 80 years old and the mother of 12 children, whose own mother faced desperate odds after her young husband was killed in a tragic accident that left her widowed with three children to raise in the Great Depression. Her tale of struggle and success was a quintessential American immigrant story, which is being repeated all over America today in Hispanic and Asian families, and in whatever ethnic group that is new to these shores.
Jenkins was using the Irish experience as the benchmark, as the example that others follow. We are all Fighting Irish, fighting for the same opportunity, faith and freedoms. That's why his university has become the symbol of freedom for so many millions of Americans.

In a strange way, his speech brought Notre Dame home. It was inspirational.


With all the respect that is due to a member of the clergy from a layperson who is a member of the same Church, I must be very honest and say that a single speech, regardless of how eloquent it may have been, does not excuse the outrage that resulted from Rev. Jenkins handling of the 2009 Notre Dame Commencement. When 70 Catholic bishops and an estimated quarter of a million Catholic laypersons vehemently disagreed with extending an invitation to a profoundly pro-abortion politician to deliver the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree, something was definitely wrong. Rev. Jenkins actions went so far as to transcend the fact that the politician in question was the President of the United States. On that day, many believe that Notre Dame crossed the line from being one of the pre-eminent Catholic universities in the U.S. to being nothing more than another secular institution of higher learning. It was, indeed, a very sad day for Catholic higher education and the blame lies solely at the feet of Rev. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ten Ready Made Answers for the Year 2030!

Ten Ready Made Answers for the Year 2030!

Jump To the year 2030:

Grandchild asks the grandparent…
What did you do when the country went on a National Health Plan?

1) Well cupcake...I just did nothing. That’s why you don’t have a sibling because your mother received a federally funded abortion.
2) I did nothing…and allowed the school to provide an abortion without even notifying us.
3) I did nothing…that is why you don’t know the pledge of allegiance.
4) I did nothing…that is why you are no longer a Catholic. The state has given you a replacement religion.
5) I did nothing…when after they methodically removed the words God, Jesus, and other religious symbols, then watched as they went after the Jews.
6) I did nothing…when I should have intervened when the government first started eroding my liberties.
7) I did nothing…and watched our relatives die because they couldn’t receive the necessary health care that they worked for all their lives.
8) I did nothing…when I knew the politicians at that time, at all levels, were corrupt and every time they opened their mouths they spewed lie after lie and expected me to believe it.
9) I did nothing… when the government gave money, without accountability, to corrupt failing businesses so they can make them government run.
10) I did nothing…and I apologize to you as best I can because the country you live in today, and the country your ancestors worked for, and died for, no longer exists. It has been replaced by whatever you want to call it, Socialism, Communism, whatever.


I must admit that I am at a loss for words after reading this very frightening and thought provoking item which was sent to me by a friend. I will leave it up to the individual reader to take whatever he/she chooses from it. Perhaps the time has come for Americans to take our country back from those who seek to destroy it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The European Court of Human Rights drive towards secularism

The European Court of Human Rights drive towards secularism – 6 November 2009

The decision by the European Court of Human Rights to order Italy to remove crucifixes from the walls of its state schools was an act of grotesque hypocrisy. The court justified its decision on the grounds that parents have a right to educate their children in the ethos of their choice, and that people have a right to freedom of religion. It said that putting crosses on the walls of state classrooms violates both.

The decision might be remotely justifiable if the court really believed in educational choice or in religious freedom, but, in practice, it believes in neither. Instead, the decision was motivated by an anti-religious animus, pure and simple.

If it really respected the right of parents to educate their children in the ethos of their choice, then it would find against countries in Europe that will fund only state-run schools and will give nothing to religious and other privately run ones. It has never done that, and it never will because it doesn't really believe in educational pluralism.

Nor does it really believe in religious freedom. For example, it found in favour of our broadcasting law even though it is so extreme that it has led to the banning of ads for the sale of Christmas cribs and rosary beads from the airwaves.
In addition, this is the same court that back in 1997 found against Greek Jehovah's Witnesses who had a conscientious objection, based on their pacifist ideals, to their children being forced to take part in a school parade marking an event in World War II.

Therefore, this court is using the Convention on Human Rights as a fig-leaf to justify its secularist objection to religion per se.

It believes that the right of parents to educate their children according to their choice is only to be supported when that choice is against religion but not when it is for it.

It believes that the right to freedom of religion should only be recognised when that right is also exercised against religion rather than in favour of religion.
The European Court of Human Rights was established after World War II. Its job is to enforce, insofar as is possible, the European Convention on Human Rights.

That convention was drafted specifically with the appalling abuses of World War II in mind. Do you really think that putting crucifixes on the walls of state classrooms can in any way, shape or form be compared with what the Nazis and others did in World War II? No, I didn't think so.

In any case, this was certainly a matter for the Italians themselves to decide and not for some court in Strasbourg that is subject to no one and nothing but itself.
What is the point of democracy when a court few have ever even heard of can override the cultural traditions of a given country, especially when those traditions are essentially harmless? The decision is a prime reason why so many people are anxious about the Charter of Fundamental Rights that we just voted on in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

The European Court of Human Rights is not part of the European Union and it should not be confused with the European Court of Justice, which is. But where the former leads, the latter usually follows and the Charter of Fundamental Rights is heavily based on the Convention on Human Rights.

This decision by the European Court of Human Rights gives us a further insight into what we can expect from the European Court of Justice, and the EU generally, now that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is formally part of EU law. It's as well we got those guarantees that offer some protection to our laws with regard to education, the family and the right to life. Let's hope those guarantees aren't as legally flimsy as the critics say.

It's obvious that we are now entering an era of state-imposed political correctness. We are about to pass a law in this country -- the Civil Partnership Bill -- that will force Christians against their conscience to facilitate same-sex civil unions if asked, and will treat them like racists if they don't.
In Canada, they have so-called 'Human Rights' Commissions whose job it is to hunt down and punish people who are supposedly guilty of 'sexism', 'racism', 'homophobia' and other perceived sins against political correctness.

In Britain, a 67-year-old woman is being investigated by police for a 'hate crime' because she wrote a letter to her local council strongly objecting to it promoting a gay pride parade. Also in Britain, a nurse was suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

The European Court of Human Rights has now become -- in fact it has been for some time -- part of the drive towards a highly aggressive and belligerent form of secularism. This week's dreadful ruling against Italy isn't the first of its kind, and it won't be the last.

Europe is indeed becoming a cold house for Christians, and religion generally.


This article very effectively sums up the universal move away from religious beliefs and the rights of parents to bring up their children with the traditional religious and moral values that they have chosen for them. Recently in our own country which was established on the principles of religious and political freedom, we have seen blatant attacks on those principles enshrined in our Constitution and a very definite shift toward secularism and socialism. The time has come for Americans who believe in the right to choose what religious and political values we practice to make those feelings known to our legislators before it is too late.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Boston's Leary visits North schools

Boston's Leary visits North schools

By Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
November 4, 2009

The head of the Irish American Partnership board has made his first visit to an Irish medium school in North Ireland.

Boston's Joe Leary was given a guided tour of the 560-pupil Coláiste Feirste in West Belfast by senior teachers and got to meet with pupils, who learn all their subjects through Irish, at the school for 11 to 18 year-olds.
During his recent visit, Leary was also welcomed to an integrated school in Belfast (where Protestant and Catholics learn together) in by prominent unionist community leader, Baroness May Blood.

The Irish American Partnership, which is devoted to supporting education across Ireland, presented Baroness Blood with a donation for five fledgling integrated schools in the North.
"It was a wonderful experience," said Leary.
"I was here to learn how Belfast has grown, how it has changed, so I can carry that message back to our 3500 active donors so that we can support the city and Northern Ireland even more."

The non-profit IAP's focus is on primary schools across the 32 counties of Ireland.

"We're tapped into a rather extraordinary respect and honor for Irish heritage and education on the part of our donors and this visit, where I gave a check to the schools May Blood recommended, is proof of that," said Leary.
As president of the partnership, Leary chaired one of the plenary sessions at the recent Irish Echo "Gateways To Tomorrow" conference in Boston that was aimed at forging stronger ties between the U.S. northeast and Ireland's northwest, especially counties Derry and Donegal.
Leary believes benefits will flow from that initiative and similar events.

"Networking events as successful as the Gateways conference are very worthwhile," he said.

"You never know when a friendship or introduction is going to pay dividends, especially at that level where there were so many Boston businessmen, and so many people to help us understand northwest Ireland," Leary said.


May I congratulate Mairtin O’Muilleoir for this article which highlights the fine work of Joe Leary and the Irish American Partnership. Joe is a good friend who is totally dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Irish people both North and South regardless of their religious or political preferences. Through his Irish American Partnership, he has raised and donated vast amounts of money to many worthy causes in Ireland. I have discussed the situation in the North with Joe and I think we agree that the key to the success of the peace process lies not with past generations or even the present one. It’s success or failure will ultimately depend on the next generation and succeeding ones. Therefore, it only stands to reason that those who truly want to see a lasting peace in Ireland should be concentrating their efforts and their charitable donations on “cross community, youth oriented programs” such as the ones supported by the Irish American Partnership. Congratulations and Best Wishes for continued success to Joe Leary for his tireless work on behalf of the Irish people and to Mairtin O’Muilleoir for bringing public recognition to those efforts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Purvis: Unionists 'lacking honesty' over Bill of Rights

Purvis: Unionists 'lacking honesty' over Bill of Rights

Wednesday, 4 November 2009 – Belfast Telegraph

There were angry clashes in the Assembly yesterday after a leading loyalist accused unionist parties of 'lacking honesty' in their opposition to a strong Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader Dawn Purvis warned the UUP and DUP they were failing Protestant communities by blocking efforts to enshrine a wide range of rights in law.

But she drew an angry reaction from Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea, whose party tabled an Assembly motion warning that proposals from the Human Rights Commission went beyond those envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.
The Commission's plans for a Bill covering a range of rights are currently with the Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.

The UUP motion calling for Mr Woodward to ignore the blueprint failed to secure cross-community support in the Assembly today.

But a call by Ms Purvis for government to proceed with a public consultation on the Bill was supported by a majority of MLAs.

"The lack of honesty in the other unionist parties in this chamber is disheartening," said Ms Purvis.
"Are they afraid that if the Protestant working classes fully understood and recognised their own rights, they would then have expectations of a more equitable society?
"Are they afraid that they couldn't then deliver such a society? Or do they just not want to deliver such a society?"

He added: "The duplicity continues. Every week the parties in this chamber wax lyrical about how hard they are working on the issues they are seeing in their constituency offices.

"Problems with housing, access to medication and adequate care, mental health services, the post-primary transfer and the guarantee of a decent education.
"What exactly do they think these are? These are rights for which people are seeking protection."

But the UUP's Basil McCrea said the proposals for a Bill would be a 'paradise for jobsworths' who would delay the work of government.

"Ms Purvis is not the only person in this chamber on the unionist benches that cares about the people in the Protestant working classes," he said.
"How dare she say that she's the only person who can go and do that. We argue as a party for the social justice that is demanded by all of the people of Northern Ireland.
"And we will not be brow-beaten by people from whatever side of this House that wish to rewrite history."

Ms Purvis had raised the significance of poverty and inequality in creating the Troubles and warned that failing to deal with such issues risked fresh tensions.
But Mr McCrea said the Troubles were caused by those engaged in violence and not by social policy.

He said he was dismayed by the PUP leader's comments, and added: "I could use stronger language, but I do not not think it is appropriate in this chamber to accuse people that are elected representatives of being dishonest, of not taking into account what their electorate have to say.

"We are accused of duplicity, and we are accused of being confused. I have to say to the member, I am not confused, I am not acting in a duplicitous manner, I do not act with any lack of honesty.

"The central issue in front of us here is whether it is right to present to a public consultation when it is quite clear that at least two of the major parties in this chamber do not support the recommendations.
"To go further forward is a complete and utter waste of public money."

The DUP backed the Ulster Unionist concerns and warned against a Bill that would enshrine a wide range of rights and entitlements in law, with both parties arguing that a wide-ranging Bill risked undermining the role of the Assembly.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP supported the Progressive Unionist Party amendment proposing a public consultation on the Bill of Rights proposals, as did the Alliance Party.


It would appear that Ms. Purvis is “spot on” in her remarks with regard to a Bill of Rights for all people in the North of Ireland. It is very refreshing, indeed, to see that there are, at least, some Unionist politicians who recognize that poverty and inequality played a significant role in creating and sustaining the “Troubles”. I believe that the late Unionist David Ervine also shared that view.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

'Ireland is a disaster . . . leave now and enjoy your life'

'Ireland is a disaster . . . leave now and enjoy your life'

Mon, Nov 02, 2009

On these pages last week, Shane Fitzgerald, a young graduate of University College Dublin, wrote about the Government’s failure to deliver on its promise of a bright future in Ireland for him and his generation. Rather than draw the dole here, he left recession Ireland behind him – departing “these bankrupt shores” for London. His experience rang true for many online readers, some of whom reacted with strong antipathy towards our politicians. Here is an edited selection of how they see Ireland and its politicians.

JAY: BORN and educated in Dublin, I emigrated to Canada in my 20s after working around the British Isles for a few years after graduation. My best advice, based on my very varied, interesting and relatively successful life filled with rich experiences and career choices, is to leave now and enjoy your life.
Ireland is a disaster. It is sorely mismanaged and misruled and destroyed by its own absurdity. There is corruption in the Government, banks, business, police, law, and even the Catholic Church (Home Rule was certainly Rome rule).
And it seems we learn nothing. The UK is also in dire economic straits and offers nothing much different from Ireland (how could it?), only with less corruption. North America, New Zealand and Australia (where I now live) are all beautiful, and are happy to welcome people from our islands, their ancestral home.
It’s all out there for you. Go now while you are young.

Chris: I signed out of the country in the late 1970s. And stayed out until the 1990s. In many ways I regret coming back. This is a very difficult country to try to survive in. Everything seems stacked against the ordinary person. We are expected to pay, pay, pay and get very little in return.
There seems to be one law for certain groups in society and a very different law for ordinary taxpayers.
At the moment I am looking down a very long, dark tunnel as I see no chance of Ireland being able to pull herself up by her bootstraps because we have an absolutely incompetent Government and a public sector which, in the main, is extremely selfish. Worse than that, there are many in public sector who are willing to abuse their power to punish the private sector or those who have become unemployed.
I don’t blame young people for leaving; what incentive is there to stay? Even if they work hard all their lives and pay their taxes they will never attain the security or standard of living of the Nordic countries. Waving goodbye to our young will become increasingly normal. And once they experience the good life they most likely will not want to come back. It seems to be Ireland’s tragedy and her fate.

Pocaifolmha: Welcome to the diaspora, Shane, you have done just what the Brian Lenihans of this world wanted you to do: reduced the unemployment register and become a potential source of external revenue.
You are now a nonentity in the eyes of the Irish Government. You do not have the right to vote and will be considered as a tourist in your own country. This situation is not your fault but your parents and relatives may not have not helped by their complacency in voting for the crooks that run Ireland and not demanding change.
A country that continually loses its brightest and best will never make progress. You and your friends should really be rioting in the streets like the French would but the Irish have been put down for so long there is no fight left in them. Don’t think that things will change in near future because if Nama floats it will at least 10 years before things improve.

Eamon3: If it is any consolation to the class of 2009, graduating earlier would not have been a panacea. My son graduated in 2003 and spent over five years in excellent well-paid jobs, buying an apartment during the boom. After spending the first two months of 2009 on the dole, he secured employment on the Continent.
Returning to Ireland is now something he hopes never to have to consider. This is how our leaders can assert that the growth in unemployment is slowing down.
Catherine P: I am currently making plans to leave this country, with no hope of ever returning to live here. I did not take part in any of the insanity of the last few years when I was working full time; I have no debts or mortgage. But I am one of the many that is paying the price.
I have seen precious little indication that the current Government or Civil Service have the interests of the country at heart. All I have seen in the last 12 months is the usual self-involved behaviour that has become more endemic in this country.
There are people out there who genuinely want to make this a better country to live in, but there are more people in all sectors of our society who are so obsessed about their entitlements that any sense of social responsibility has long gone.

Paddy Behan: I left Irish shores two months ago now, along with my wife and five-month-old son. I left a permanent teaching job in the heart of Kilkenny. I was very happy and content, my wife sadly was not. So, here I am now, no more that one mile from the beach, earning €80,000 tax free a year. My wife has a good job and is being treated with respect.
My son has his own nanny, at a fraction of the cost in Ireland. Good, Catholic Ireland, eh? My advice is get out while you can. The metaphor of rats leaving a sinking ship invades my mind every time I think of home. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I wish you all the very best of Irish luck, whatever that means nowadays.

Penguin: What about those who voted these criminals into a position of power? Two years ago the electorate bought into the “greed is good” philosophy (as in all recent Dáil elections) and this is the result. While I strongly sympathise with Shane, enjoyed his article, and might consider doing the same (head for foreign shores) were I his age, sometimes you just have to make a stand and say “this has gone far enough”.

Joe: I’m planning on leaving soon. Many of my friends have left already. Australia, the US, parts of continental Europe. Even Irish friends of mine are working in Eastern Europe. All of them are having the time of their lives.
Ireland is a very complex country, regulated by a rigid, mostly unspoken ideology; an ideology that looks confusing, contradictory and even idiotic to those who don’t benefit from it, and as natural and as just as the holy law of God to those who do.
Ireland’s future does not look very bright – but for myself and many others it’s not our future, it’s not our concern.

Sean Reynolds: The economy is in the toilet in my view, and will be for some time yet. I graduated in 2008 and after a short part-time contract, Government cuts led to my peanuts job being cut while the “higher-ups” were insulated from cutbacks.
The Government has completely blown the benefits of the Celtic Tiger, and put nothing away for a rainy day.
I have zero faith in the Government, they do not understand the problems ordinary folk have and just don’t seem to care. While I wouldn’t find it easy to move abroad, it is something I am actively contemplating because this economy is wrecked.

Robert Browne: I have every sympathy with Shane Fitzgerald and the shame is clearly on our useless and utterly corrupt Government, aided and abetted by the likes of Ictu.

Lshields: Funny that Shane can’t say anything good about Ireland, but is still happy enough to take Irish Times money though.

Bobs: What a bunch of whingers, none of ye were crying when the money was coming in. Nobody asked where it was coming from or how long it would last because in reality ye didn’t want to know.
Now it’s all somebody else’s fault – collective schizophrenia.


I don’t think that I would agree with some of the very gloomy assessments that are expressed here by some of those interviewed but it is, nevertheless, enlightening to hear different views on the current state of the Irish economy. Their economy, to be sure, has suffered some heavy blows since the glory days of the now non-existent “Celtic Tiger” and it will, most likely, take a long period of time to recover. However, I have always admired the resiliency and resourcefulness of the Irish people and I have no doubt that, in due time, they will recover and prosper once again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Conradh na Gaeilge criticises report

Conradh na Gaeilge criticises report

Patsy McGarry Irish Times 1 November 2009

SHOULD MCCARTHY report recommendations to be implemented where Irish was concerned, “it would amount to a discontinuance of the policy of the State since 1922 regarding the maintenance and promotion of the Irish language, both within the Gaeltacht and outside it”, Conradh na Gaeilge has said.
It also pointed out that, not only does the report propose that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs be abolished, “but in the case of the functions carried out by that department, it is proposed that funding be reduced by 31.7 per cent”.

That would mean a reduction which was “more than three times” that recommended for other departments and a proposed reduction in staff “almost four times” the average proposed for other departments.

In a formal response to the report, Conradh na Gaeilge has called on the Government “to take the 20-year strategy for the Irish language, which is to be published at the end of September, into account before any decision is made regarding the proposals in the report which relate to the preservation, promotion and encouragement of the use of Irish”.

It said that “it would be to the general detriment of the language, and of the Gaeltacht” were functions relevant to either transferred to the Department of Education.

It noted that just 3 per cent of the latter department’s staff were able to provide services in Irish and that this would not be so but for “the fact that the ethos of the Department of Education and Science itself is deficient”.
It said the Department of Education “has been engaged in weakening the Irish language in the education system for some time”. As an example it instanced department attempts “to abolish early total immersion in Gaelscoileanna within the State, although educationalists at home and abroad recognise that it is the best way to teach a second language.”

It continued: “Conradh na Gaeilge is of the view that abolishing the Department of the Gaeltacht would amount to a downgrading of the status of Irish to that of a school subject only, and would signal a readiness to abandon its promotion as a household and community vernacular in the Gaeltacht, and as a living speech throughout the country.”

It also accused the McCarthy report compilers of “a lack of awareness” in stating that all official publications had to be translated into Irish when this applied only to documents such as annual reports.


As an Irish speaker, who has a home in the Connemara Gaeltacht and who has spent a considerable amount of time there over the last 40 years, I find the content of this article absolutely appalling. It is absolutely essential, in the interest of Ireland’s national identity, that the continued use of “An Gaeilge” as the first language of the country is supported and encouraged in Gaeltacht areas and wherever else interest is demonstrated. Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam. ( A country without its language is a country without its soul)