Friday, June 25, 2010

Key Dem: Immigration bill lacks votes

Key Dem: Immigration bill lacks votes

By Molly K. Hooper - 06/24/10 – The Hill

A leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform admitted Thursday that “there are an insufficient number of Democratic votes” to pass a bill this year.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-Ill.) comments are significant because he has aggressively pushed President Barack Obama to pass immigration reform during this Congress.

The Illinois Democrat appeared at a press conference Thursday to tout that 102 lawmakers — all Democrats — have signed on to his reform measure.

“There are an insufficient number of Democratic votes to pass this in the Senate or in the House. I’ve said it. There are an insufficient number. We are 102 strong, we are 102 commitment, but we are insufficient,” Gutierrez said.

The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congress are not rosy either. There will likely be fewer Democrats in both chambers, and some Republicans who previously backed a guest-worker program have shifted their positions. And there are many centrist House Democrats who have made it clear they will not support any bill that could be criticized as an “amnesty” measure.

While on the campaign trail, Obama vowed that he would pass immigration reform in 2009. He later vowed it would pass this year, but in April said Congress may not have the “appetite” to deal with the hot-button issue before the midterm elections.

Two weeks later, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said it’s “unlikely” that the Senate would move on immigration reform this year.

Gutierrez was quick to say on Thursday that he holds out hope that an immigration bill will move this year and has indicated he is very open to compromise on a measure that will attract enough support to pass.

The earliest Congress could act this year, according to Gutierrez, is in September — after the Senate has dealt with the Supreme Court confirmation of Elena Kagan. However, Senate leaders have opted to address energy legislation before immigration, and that effort is unlikely to be completed before the August recess.

Democratic leaders in Congress have agreed that the Senate will tackle immigration reform before the House does.

“Things have improved. We are making movement within the Senate. The community groups are advocating and organizing, and we see the new energy, precisely because of Arizona and the urgency,” Gutierrez said.

But Arizona’s controversial border security law, which will likely be legally challenged by the Obama administration, has not led to a slew of new votes for comprehensive immigration reform. Initially, some Democrats believed the media attention on Arizona would trigger momentum for an immigration bill, but polls show that many Americans support the state law.

Gutierrez has a different view, saying the Arizona law “has changed the equation. People are active, people are energetic, people want action.”

Moreover, he said, 30 Democrats have signed on to his bill since the law was enacted.

Gutierrez commended Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for engaging in a serious effort to move the controversial piece of legislation through the Senate in short order.

“I know that the majority leader has been very, very good. He’s been … trying to find a vehicle to move this forward in the Senate. He’s made a commitment to do that, and I believe he’s doing everything he can to keep that commitment,” Gutierrez said, adding that “it doesn’t make it easy when people like” GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) are not helping like they did several years ago.

McCain and Graham have insisted this year that implementing comprehensive immigration reform remains contingent on securing America’s borders.

In an interview with The Hill earlier this year, Gutierrez threatened to urge Latino voters to stay home this November if the Democratic Party does not make a concerted effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

His comments did not sit well with many Capitol Hill Democrats, who are working to preserve their majorities in the midterm elections.

Asked on Thursday if Latinos and reform supporters would vote if Democrats failed to act, Gutierrez responded, “I think you are going to find that … people are going to take specific actions against specific members. You probably will see that.

“I am not calling for that to happen, but I think that that’s a natural consequence of this whole thing.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, blamed dozens of House Democrats for holding up immigration reform.

“Obviously within our caucus, it’s 30 or 40 people that are afraid of this issue, afraid it will affect their election and won’t cooperate on it,” Grijalva said, adding that the White House has not effectively used the bully pulpit to advance the legislation.

A key GOP lawmaker said Gutierrez shouldn’t count on attracting Republican support in the House.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who co-sponsored the bipartisan, bicameral 2006 reform measure with Gutierrez, McCain and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), indicated that the drive to pass immigration reform in his conference gave way to a push for stricter border security policy.

“I’m willing to work with anybody to get it through, but I’m under no illusion that we can. A lot of the Republicans, particularly in the Senate, who are pushing for comprehensive reform have said until we see the borders secure, we can’t move to the other elements, so that just puts us in a holding pattern,” Flake said.

Flake and Gutierrez have spoken about the issue as recently as a few weeks ago but have not engaged in formal conversations on the matter.

Flake added, “It’s a tough issue for both sides of the aisle.”


Unfortunately, when a staunch advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D – Ill) declares publicly that there are not enough votes to pass legislation this year, you can be sure that he has done his homework. Unlike some high profile immigration reform advocates, I agree with Rep. Gutierrez and believe that concentration on passing a bill should be directed toward the 2011 Congressional Session.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Orangemen refuse to fill in Drumcree application

Orangemen refuse to fill in Drumcree application
By Victor Gordon

PORTADOWN Orangemen have raised the stakes ahead of the annual Drumcree parade – by threatening to walk to the church without permission.

For the first time, the Orange District No 1 has refused to fill in the official application – the so called 'eleven-bar-one' form – either for the outward march or the banned return parade via the Garvaghy Road.
District secretary David Jones confirmed: "We have not submitted the form. The 28-day deadline passed last Sunday, and that's all we are saying."
And district master Darryl Hewitt refused to comment.
If no form is submitted, the annual outward parade would be illegal.
Last night, parades sources were hoping that the situation could be resolved.
But the Portadown Orangemen say that they are more determined than ever to complete the return march into Portadown "via our traditional route" (Garvaghy Road), following the religious service in Drumcree parish church.
It is the first time since the Drumcree row erupted in the mid-1990s that the Portadown District has refused to submit the forms.
They have applied every Sunday since the homeward march was banned in 1998 and hold a demonstration at Drumcree Bridge at the foot of The Hill.
A highly-placed Orange source told the News Letter: "Especially since the turn of the Millennium we have done everything strictly within the law and have got nowhere.
"But in the last few months, republicans have taken part in illegal parades and no action has been taken – like the demonstrations at Maghaberry, the Easter parade in Armagh, and the eirigi walk and demonstration in Belfast last November in protest again the 'Welcome Home' parade of the British troops.
"Brendan McKenna of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) took part in the eirigi walk and no action whatsoever was taken by the authorities.
"The Orange District has done everything by the book, and we've tried time after time to have direct talks with the GRRC, but we've been completely ignored."
Mr McKenna commented: "I've heard via the commission that the 'eleven-bar-one' has not been submitted, but it's a matter between them and the Orange District.
"Obviously, the Orangemen are making a show of it all - grabbing the headlines - as this was likely to be the last time the commission was due rule on Drumcree with new legislation on the way."
And he confirmed the GRRC had no plans to speak to the Orange side.
A spokesman for the parades commission confirmed the form had not been submitted "for whatever reason".

He added: "It isn't like the Portadown District to be late with their forms. If there are reasons for late applications, we would view them sympathetically and would probably make the same determination as in recent years."
This means that the outward parade to Drumcree from the centre of Portadown - via Northway, Corcrain and the Rector's Turns - would be allowed, but the return parade via the Garvaghy Road re-routed.
The Orange source said: "It like a stuck record, so there's no point in applying."


Here we go again! Is this the same “harmless Protestant fraternal organization” that tried to “make nice” in Washington, DC three years ago? If so, it will be very interesting to see if they attempt to forcefully conduct an unlawful march on July 4th. If they do, will they still receive the support and encouragement of the Stormont government for an unlawful march in Portadown in 2010 as they did for their participation in a “folk festival” in Washington, DC in 1997?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This is the day we've all been waiting for

Derry Journal - 11 June 2010

In this article - just days before the publication of the Saville report into the events of Bloody Sunday - TONY DOHERTY whose father, Patrick, was among those gunned down in the Bogside, argues that British prime minister David Cameron must acknowledge the enormity of the crime that Bloody Sunday was and is.

The British public, he writes, has the right to know what has been done in their name and the fact that ordinary working class families, as well as all those wounded on the day, were left to carry the burden of injustice for almost 40 years.

Ever since the unbelievable enormity of what had just taken place in the Bogside had dawned on people, around the late evening of Sunday, 30th January 1972, Derry has been waiting for the truth to be written, spoken, accepted and acknowledged, and for justice to be done. Widgery, foisted upon us as a disgraceful substitute for all of the above, has now been consigned to the judicial dustbin, forever a glaring reference for students and historians to cover-up, lies and holding the line for a murderous deed.

Bloody Sundays have happened the world over but, with the Saville Inquiry, rarely has the world seen such an unearthing of facts in order to get to the truth about a single event. With the publication of the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Tuesday, 15th June may well turn out to the day we have all been waiting for.

Depending on who you are, or to be more exact, where you were on Bloody Sunday, your memory is forever defined by that location. Many of the younger generation of sons and daughters, or younger sisters and brothers of those directly affected, like myself, experienced the news of the event in its immediate aftermath because we were too young to be there. Ours is a memory defined by such great grief and sadness that is oft-times physically impossible to speak of. This memory will stay forever in a child's mind.

For those who were there on that fateful day - who witnessed the shootings, the brutality, the bodies, and who were forced to scurry in terror, like slaves, away from Rossville Street into back alleys and gardens, or frog-marched like criminals - theirs is a memory defined by the horror of what they saw, heard and felt. No Inquiry or truth recovery process diminishes the memory of horror, no matter how well intentioned or acquitted.

It is important for me to say also that, for many others, especially in the Unionist or Protestant neighbourhoods of Derry, their memory may well be defined by the tenor or slant of news of the event as it travelled across the city or on the airwaves. It is probably true that many were too eager to believe that the Paras' version of Bloody Sunday - that they had killed gunmen and bombers on the streets of the Bogside - was the true account of what had taken place and, indeed, was long overdue.

I know from having met Protestant community leaders and churchmen in more recent times, since the full course, weight and detail of the Saville Inquiry has become obvious, that it is practically universally accepted that the Paras' or government version of the atrocity is nothing but a lie which has created a massive injustice, burdening and dividing the city of Derry for far too long.

Just resolution
Recently, when we visited London to campaign for the speedy release of the report, Lady Sylvia Hermon attended a public meeting in Westminster and spoke very eloquently about her own memories of Bloody Sunday and was very eager to understand the importance of a just resolution from the families' perspective.

It is also true, of course, that there is an element within Unionism, often voiced locally, which is characterised by intransigence and fixated upon the need to be anything but positive. On the issue of Bloody Sunday, its resolution and the building of a city and a future in which we all can share, it is our hope that we hear other more progressive and moderate voices from within the Protestant and Unionist community, voices who are willing to accept the truth if or when it is placed in front of them, rather than hold on to old lies for political reasons.

The event of Bloody Sunday is often cast as the prelude or slipway to a long and tragic conflict. For many, the travesty of Widgery was the final straw. The innocent were found guilty and the guilty were deemed innocent. There was no real explanation as to how 13 men and boys lay dead in Derry's cemetery. Many other young men and women rejected the previously popular demands of the Civil Rights Association or any political alternative. 1972 was the bloodiest year in the conflict. Many young men and women from this city spent the best years of their lives in prison in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. In 1981, I myself began my own prison journey after being sentenced for IRA offences. Such is the legacy of Bloody Sunday.

For much of my own young and adult life, I would have willingly ended the life of Soldier F whose name I know and whose face I saw for the first time at the Inquiry hearings in London in 2003. Soldier F killed Paddy Doherty, my father. He also killed Barney McGuigan, Michael Kelly and Willie McKinney and probably wounded several others within the space of a few minutes. He is a remorseless killer and it is, therefore, difficult to square words and deeds of forgiveness and non-vengeance with his mind-set. If truth be told, I cannot forgive someone who is not remorseful. However, in consideration of other feelings, someone once told me of this Russian proverb: "If you seek revenge, you must dig two graves."

People power
When we go into the Guildhall next Tuesday morning, we do so as proud Irish men and women whose determined and prolonged use of people power has finally paid off. We do so expecting to see the truth written down. For those whose memories are defined by having been there on Bloody Sunday and who have known the truth because they witnessed it, seeing the truth written down is official confirmation of what they have always known but has for too long been denied.

When David Cameron's government reflects on all of the implications of the Saville Report, he, himself, as British Prime Minister, should be mindful of what this report means, not just for us, but for the British people. We have known the truth for decades, albeit unofficial and unacknowledged.

The British public know little about Ireland but I suspect what they think they know is that their boys were over here doing a good job keeping two warring sides apart and that they have brought about peace at last. Bloody Sunday tells a different story. In terms of what we may be about to be told, Bloody Sunday was an atrocity committed by the crack Parachute Regiment of the British Army against innocent civil rights demonstrators in broad daylight in front of thousands of witnesses.

Next Tuesday, in Westminster, David Cameron must acknowledge the enormity of the crime that Bloody Sunday was and is. The British public has the right to know what has been done in their name and the fact that ordinary working class families - the Duddys, McDaids, Youngs, Nashs, Gilmours, McElhinneys, Wrays, McKinneys, Donagheys, Kellys, McGuigans and Johnstons - as well as all those wounded on the day, were left to carry the burden of injustice for almost 40 years.

Civic role
Finally, the families would like to invite the whole population of Derry to, on Tuesday, proceed from Rossville Street at 3 pm to the Guildhall Square where we will address you by telling you what will be acknowledged about our loved ones. While this occasion is very personal to us as families, we are also very clear as to the civic and inclusive nature of it.

We are asking workers, students, political groups, human rights and campaign groups, people from every walk of life in every community and neighbourhood, to join us on the day for which we have all been waiting for almost 40 years. The only banner to be carried on the procession will be that of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, the banner of the families whose campaign has brought us to this day.


What a poignant and heart wrenching account by Tony Doherty of that horrendous day in 1972 when so many lives were changed forever. There is not much that one can say beyond what Tony has said so eloquently in this article. Having known the families of the victims for several years since hosting them in Boston and having participated with them in the Bloody Sunday Marches in Derry for many years, I can only say that our prayers will be with them on Tuesday as they have always been and that they will finally receive the justice that they need and so richly deserve.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Armed rioters scale ‘Peace Wall’ to clash at Interface

Armed rioters scale ‘Peace Wall’ to clash at Interface

Gemma Burns - North Belfast News - 7 June 2010

Young people wielding machetes, meat cleavers and iron bars have been scaling a 'peace wall' at a North Belfast interface wall in order to get involved in sectarian rioting.
The Alexandra Park interface off the Limestone Road has seen an escalation in sectarian clashes between young people over the last number of weeks with local people declaring the area a "no go" zone at night.
Concerned community workers fear the problem could get worse over the summer holidays and in the lead up to the marching season.
Members of Newington, Parkside and Castleton Residents Group have been in talks with the NIO, PSNI, Belfast City Council and their counterparts in Tigers Bay to try and bring an end to the violence. Young people have been climbing over a peace wall in the park to get to their counter parts on either side. Some have even been witnessed attempting to tunnel under the wall.
Chair of the group Tom O'Kane said the park has become a "no go" area at night as teenage rioters take over the area.
"It is getting to the stage now where it is almost every night they are at it," he said.
"There is a builders yard near the peace wall and they are going in there and lifting timber to throw at each other. They've been armed with meat cleavers, machetes and iron bars to riot with. Many of them are coming in from outside the area to do this and it has to stop."
Heightening the peace wall has already been ruled out by the NIO, so the group are trying to come up with alternatives to ensure a peaceful summer.
"We are talking at the minute about what we can do because residents can't have a summer of this," he said.
"We are trying to make the park a better place for residents to come into and enjoy, but at the minute most people won't come in at night for fear of what might happen."
Tom O'Kane has been joined in his plea for an end to the trouble by Tigers Bay community worker Sam Cochrane.
"We would agree with Tom on the upsurge in the trouble and we want to appeal for calm now the summer is starting and we have the bright nights," he said.

"We are in the process of dealing with it and the two communities working together can help bring a stop to it. We want the park to be there for the people who want to enjoy it like families, not these young people who are involved in this behaviour.
"But there is good work going on between the two communities so hopefully we can se an end to it."


This is hardly the time to “wring your hands” and blindly accept that the content of this article, although very disturbing, signals that the upcoming marching season will be one of rioting and mayhem. But, it does raise the possibility that problems could be on the horizon and perhaps it is time to take preventive measures. This is, after all, the first marching season since the turnover of policing and justice powers to the Stormont government and there might be some who would want to put the new justice minister to the test. It might be a wise time on the part of all concerned to implement a policy of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why we like to pretend killers have gone away

Why we like to pretend killers have gone away

By Lindy McDowell – Belfast Telegraph - Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The UVF gunning-down of one of its own in broad daylight on a busy weekday afternoon on a Shankill Road crowded with shoppers and passers-by, may be shocking.

But, given the unrelenting paramilitary grip of terror on working class areas in this place, it can hardly be described as surprising.

There is a big, dirty secret that we try to keep in Northern Ireland. That after “the process” everything here changed, changed utterly. That the terror gangs took themselves off. And peace reigned. That paramilitary violence, threat, extortion and gangsterism was consigned to the past.

As if ...

Granted, things changed a bit. The paramilitary leaderships on all sides, keen to cash in on the so-called peace dividend that was to represent their pension plan, did put a lid on the worst of their violence. But just because a paramilitary swaps baseball bats for golf clubs doesn’t mean it’s a whole new ball game.

These boys talked an impressive process. There was some decommissioning. Of a limited and vague variety. And there was much guff about standing aside, standing down and winding up.

But their day being over, finished, done with for good, as that nice Mr Clinton put it some years back? The evidence to the contrary on that one doesn’t just include the bloodstains on the pavement at the corner of Conway Street.

Or the bunches of flowers wrapped in cellophane now stacked along street railings like defiant sentinels in rigid tribute to Bobby Moffett.

It also includes the watching eyes. The open campaign of intimidation aimed at keeping people from speaking out against those who carried out the killing.

The UVF, like the UDA and the LVF (and the PIRA and the dissidents) continue to run their areas with an iron fist. Working class people who live under their cosh know exactly who runs the show in their part of town.

The telling thing, the sickening thing, is that the government happily colludes with this by maintaining the pretence that the terror gangs have somehow been safely dispatched into history. People who live in the nicer, leafier areas don‘t need to be unsettled by the truth, do they?

The truth is that, for some time now, the UVF leadership has been having difficulty reining in certain factions. The UDA is not having all its sorrows to seek either.

The recent release into the mix of Andre Shoukri, the strutting bully boy formerly known as the Bookie’s Brigadier, does not exactly augur well for ongoing harmony there.

The Provos still command their fiefdoms too.

As well as evidence of their un-decommissioned guns mysteriously resurfacing of late, there’s also indication of Provo collusion with dissidents. The same dissidents who are now firing on all mortar cylinders?

The IMC report conclusion that while these dissidents are indeed dangerous they do not command widespread support or have similar resources to the PIRA in terms of manpower, money, organization and expertise is hardly a comfort in the circumstances.

Lack of popular support, political representation, skills or funding has never been a drawback where any of our local killing machines has been concerned.

It says something that post “decommissioning” they all remain as powerful, as lethal and as threatening as ever. “Internal housekeeping” is how the government used to gloss over the likes of the UVF killing of Bobby Moffett.

Sweep it under the carpet. Hope the bloodstains don’t seep too far into public view?.


The writer of this article could never be mistaken for a champion of the republican point of view, but she has nailed this one. The decommissioning process certainly did not leave combatants on either side of the armed conflict totally without weapons. When you live by the gun for decades, you don’t change overnight. Remember this one, “We haven’t gone away, you know”.