Monday, January 31, 2011

Bloody Sunday "Bringing the Truth to Light"

Bloody Sunday "Bringing the Truth to Light"
Derry Journal – 31 January 2011

A captivated audience gathered at Derry's Guildhall on Friday evening for a special celebration evening chronicling the achievements of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, entitled 'Bringing the Truth to Light'.

Panels featuring relatives, campaigners, lawyers and prominent politicians discussed the campaign, from its humble beginnings in 1992 until the elation felt during the release of Saville's report into the massacre on June 15 last year. The audience consisted of fellow campaigners, relatives, local people and many visitors to the city. A rapturous applause greeted celebrated local playwright Dave Duggan, who had attended despite recovering from recent illness.

Introduced by Colm Barton of the Bloody Sunday Trust, the event was then opened by some words of welcome and commendation by Mayor Colum Eastwood. A recital of Seamus Heaney's poem 'The Road to Derry' followed.

Relative and campaigner Tony Doherty and journalist Paul McFadden hosted the in-depth, informal discussion. Each panel of three guests was followed by a songs and poetry related to the events of Bloody Sunday.

Discussing the history of Bloody Sunday, Widgery's 'whitewash' and the early commemorations were local politician Mitchel McLaughlin, Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre and Gerry Duddy, brother of Jackie Duddy. Next to take up the discussion was highly respected solicitor Patricia Coyle, relative Kay Duddy and campaigner Eamonn McCann. Patricia Coyle spoke of the significant evidence unearthed in the early 1990s at the Public Records Office in Kew Gardens, evidence that bolstered the urgency for a new investigation or inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

The third section of the discussion featured the recollections of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who spent years trying to secure a new Inquiry as part of the delicate Peace process, Jane Winters, campaigner and founding member of the Bloody Sunday Trust and Don Mullan, author of the bestselling 'Eyewitness Bloody Sunday'.
Speaking of the importance of a new investigation into the killings, Martin McGuinness described the previous 1972 tribunal by Lord Widgery as "a bucketful of lies."

The final and most emotive panel featured Geraldine Doherty, niece of Gerald Donaghey, Conal McFeely of the Bloody Sunday Trust and Sinn Fein MLA and fellow BST member Raymond McCartney. Geraldine Doherty spoke of the disappointment felt on June 15 last year when Saville ruled that, although deemed innocent alongside all the other victims, Donaghey "probably" had nail bombs on his person when he was shot on Bloody Sunday. Geraldine's mother, ardent campaigner Mary Doherty, passed away just months after the publication of the Saville Report without seeing Gerald's name cleared.

To close proceedings, a specially prepared film was screened capturing the momentous events of June 15 last year in Derry. Many left the Guildhall's main hall amid tears and hugs. Indeed, this event was a well-deserved celebration of all that these campaigners had collectively achieved.

The only comment necessary is “at long last the innocent victims have been vindicated” and their families who tenaciously fought for justice for their loved ones over nearly four decades have finally achieved their goal. Perhaps now the innocents can finally rest in peace.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1,000 a week forced to emigrate

1,000 a week forced to emigrate

By Thomas Molloy and Aideen Sheehan - Thursday January 20 2011

MORE than 1,000 people a week are being forced to leave the country in a desperate bid to find work abroad.

The extent of the emigration crisis -- the worst in the history of the State -- is revealed today in a major new report by the State's economic think-tank.

Up to 60,000 people will have left the country between April 2010 and this April, alarming new figures by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) show.

And, it is predicted another 40,000 will leave in the 12 months after this as the slowdown continues to bite and unemployment remains the third highest in Europe.

Just 44,000 emigrated in 1989 when the last recession reached its peak.

According to the forecasts, Ireland will lose the equivalent of the population of Galway city this year and twice the population of Kilkenny city next year.

And the real loss is even higher because some people are still immigrating to Ireland. The ESRI's figures only look at the net figure or how the population changes.

Confirmation of the huge numbers emigrating undermine government claims the unemployment crisis is easing.

Although the numbers on the Live Register have fallen by 30,000 to 437,000 since last August, analysts have claimed this is mainly down to more young people leaving.

The drop in those signing on was most pronounced among under-25s -- the people who are fleeing the country in the largest numbers.

The ESRI's latest quarterly report on the economy holds out little hope for those without a job. Unemployment is forecast to average 13.5pc this year and post a slight drop next year following a "minuscule" rise.

Employment will remain elusive as economic growth is limited to the export sector, which produces few jobs.

Long-term unemployment is now at 6.5pc. Unemployment among the young is particularly severe with more than one- third of 15 to 19-year-olds out of work and more than a quarter of 20 to 24-year-olds.

"The weakness in the labour market for younger people in particular has given rise to the return of emigration and our forecasts envisage a continuation of this," the ESRI report said.


ESRI economist Alan Barrett declined to say how many people are actually leaving the country when immigration is excluded. He also could not say what percentage are Irish and what percentage are foreigners returning home.

A recent investigation by the Irish Independent found almost 46,000 Irish citizens travelled to five key overseas destinations to find work in the last year.

This included almost 24,000 people who headed to Australia on work visas. Another 3,462 people emigrated to Canada, 4,444 went to New Zealand, over 1,700 travelled to the US and 600 headed for Germany.

More than 11,000 people are believed to have emigrated to the UK for work during 2010.

This is based on UK government figures showing 5,500 Irish citizens obtained UK national insurance numbers in the first six months of the year.

Peter Hammond, the director of the London Irish Centre in Camden, last night said most of the new people coming to the centre are in their 20s.

"Most other migrant groups emigrate as families to the UK, the Irish comes in twos and threes," he told the Irish Independent. "There are very few middle-aged people."


These are frightening statistics, indeed, for a country which only a few short years ago was touted as the “most vibrant economy in Europe”. During the years when Ireland was referred to as the “Celtic Tiger”, the economy was booming. Jobs were so plentiful that workers from other EU countries poured into Ireland. The construction industry could not find enough workers to keep up with the demand for new housing which now lies vacant in various stages of completion. Merchants were hard pressed to keep up with the demand for goods and services needed by the large numbers of new immigrants. And then came the inevitable collapse of an economy which grew much too fast. The bills came due and there was no way to pay them. Tragically, today we are seeing a return to the days of high levels of emigration with no solutions offered by a totally inept government and no end in sight. The final solution will be a true test of the legendary resourcefulness and resilience of the Irish people to deal with adversity.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, January 10, 2011

Negotiating the US visa minefield

Negotiating the US visa minefield

Niall Stanage – Irish Times – 9 January 2011

From the horror of the Famine to the bleakness of the last big recession, in the 1980s, Irish people have often tried to escape tough times by crossing the Atlantic. This time, although the US is in better shape than Ireland, it is hardly thriving. The recession and an unemployment rate of almost 10 per cent have taken much of the gloss off the Land of Opportunity.

Those who want to take their chances will have to negotiate thickets of immigration law. Even US visa classifications can be confusing, even intimidating, at first glance.

The picture becomes a lot simpler if you bear two points in mind. First, most people can safely ignore lots of visa classifications, as many are designed for specific applicants, such as diplomats, athletes and journalists. Second, the key division is between non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The terminology aims to distinguish between visas that can lead smoothly to full US citizenship and those that cannot.

All major visas are difficult to obtain – unless you are lucky enough to win the green-card lottery – which the US government prefers to refer to as the diversity immigrant visa lottery program. The deadline for this year’s draw was earlier this month.

Those who want to apply next year should take a realistic view: only 50,000 visas are issued worldwide, of which only about a third go to Europe.

There are two other main ways to get on the track to US citizenship. One is to be sponsored by an immediate family member. This remains the most common way of obtaining a green card, and eligibility is clear-cut: if you don’t have a spouse, a child under 21 or a parent who is an American citizen, you are out of luck, at least in the short term. (There are more drawn-out procedures for less immediate relatives.)

The other main route is to be sponsored by an employer. This can work well, but again it is important to be realistic. The employer will have to be willing not merely to offer you a job but also to prove that no American has the skills to fill the position. The speed with which such an application will be processed also depends on the applicant’s skill level. Green cards for those with “extraordinary ability” or who are “international managers” can be processed quickly. Visas for those on the lowest levels can sometimes take years.

As for non-immigrant visas, one relatively recent development was a September 2008 expansion of the well-known J1 visa. Whereas the J1 was once synonymous with summer trips, Irish students and recent graduates can now live and work in the US for up to a year.

Those who have left their student days long behind should keep in mind that an employer can sponsor an alien for a non-immigrant visa (the H1B) rather than a green card. They may be more willing to do so, as it is a slightly less onerous process, but they still have to vouch for the new arrival. In the current climate it could be difficult to prove that no American can do the job in question.

Overall, the situation is not especially bright. For people who are not students, recent graduates, green-card-lottery winners or relations of US citizens, the hurdles are high.

Some of those desperate for a taste of the American dream may think of moving to the US illegally. They would be better to think again. Getting caught will almost certainly result in deportation and restrictions on returning to the US; even success will condemn the illegal immigrant to years of waiting nervously for a tap on the shoulder.

Your first port of call should be the US embassy in Dublin ( visas.html), which provides a comprehensive rundown of the types of visas available.

Other useful websites include:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

US Department of State

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (for contact details for the Irish Embassy in Washington and consulates in other cities)

The most widely used site for classified ads – for housing and jobs, say – is


This is taken from an Irish Times series on current emigration trends from Ireland. Unlike a recent article which appeared in the Irish Independent containing some very misleading statements from people who should know better, this article gives some sound advice to young Irish people regarding immigration to the U.S. in these very difficult economic times. They would be well advised to give serious consideration to the negative aspects and possible consequences outlined here.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Saturday, January 1, 2011

US still land of opportunity for Irish illegal immigrants

US still land of opportunity for Irish illegal immigrants

Sunday December 26 2010 - Irish Independent

THE United States is still the land of opportunity for anyone struggling to pay the bills or find work in Ireland, according to Irish groups in New York and San Francisco.
The eastern and western cities, long established gateways for the Irish, have already seen a rise in the number of undocumented immigrants looking for work.
Ciaran Staunton, of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in New York and Celine Kennelly of the San Francisco Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre said most find work within days of arrival.
Ciaran added: "We've all heard the stories about the hardships of people living illegally out here and what it's like but the truth is, if you want to get away from all the problems in Ireland at the moment, and pay your mortgage or your credit card bill or whatever it is for a few years, it can be done out here.
"There are jobs for people here even if they come over illegally."
The Irish Pastoral Centre in San Francisco estimates there are more than 5,000 illegal Irish in the city and the number is growing every week. Before the Celtic Tiger the number was about 7,000.
Celine believes there will be a return to that level.
She added: "None of the illegals here are out of work. They are all earning money and doing ok for themselves. There are problems for people if they want to stay here long term because every time you go home, you might not be allowed back into the country. You're not allowed to get a driver's licence and that causes a lot of problems for people.
"But in the short term it is an alternative that people can consider."
The undocumented typically work in bars, restaurants and on building sites.
But many of the illegal Irish who travelled to the US and settled down only intended to stay for a short time.
Celine said: "Most people don't come here intending to settle down.
"They come over to get a job and make some money but then they meet someone and start a family or they get used to being here and it becomes their new home and it becomes harder to leave."
Celine cited one recent case of a woman who has made a new life for herself in San Francisco where she has a family, a home and a good job.
But when her grandmother in Ireland fell ill she had to choose whether to risk flying out to see her. If immigration refused to admit her back into the US she would have to uproot her young family, or live apart from them.
In the end the fear of not being allowed back into the US was too great. Her grandmother has since died.
The Irish in America also face a new danger. Members of the Republican Party, particularly those in the Tea Party, are trying to repeal one of the mainstays of the American constitution -- the automatic entitlement to citizenship of anyone born in the US.
Since 1868 the 14th amendment has allowed Irish parents secure for their children the rights they are denied.
Arizona senator John Kyl has joined the chorus of Republicans giving approval to altering the constitution.
He has called on Congress to discuss repealing the amendment, a move that would strike fear into the hearts of many Irish illegals.
However, some Republicans are reluctant to back such a proposal for fear of alienating Latino communities.


I read this article in the Irish Independent yesterday and was absolutely infuriated by the myriad of potential problems that could result for young Irish people who are contemplating emigration from home, for those who are already here and are fortunate enough to be employed, for those who employ them, and for the many people who are working very diligently on a daily basis trying to resolve the many problems of the undocumented Irish already living here.

This is an open invitation for ICE to intensify their investigations at "bars, restaurants, and on building sites where the undocumented typically work" as is very stupidly stated in the article by Mr. Staunton and Ms. Kennelly. These people profess to help the undocumented, quite the contrary, when they disseminate false and possibly incriminating advice like this to unsuspecting young people in Ireland. They read this rubbish at home and decide to come here desperately seeking employment that, in actual fact, is no more readily available here than it is in Ireland.

I think that statements such as those made in this article, rather than helping young Irish people contemplating emigration, are enticing them into a situation where they, very likely, will violate their visa waiver and become subject to a ten year bar from re-entry if they ever leave the U.S. This type of misinformation needs to be "nipped in the bud" before it gets out of hand and causes further problems to people in the undocumented community.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America