Sunday, October 27, 2013

GOP comfortable ignoring Obama pleas for vote on immigration bill

By Russell Berman - 10/25/13 – The Hill
For President Obama and advocates hoping for a House vote on immigration reform this year, the reality is simple: Fat chance.
Obama repeatedly since the shutdown has sought to turn the nation’s focus to immigration reform and pressure Republicans to take up the Senate’s bill, or something similar.
But there are no signs that Republicans are feeling any pressure.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly ruled out taking up the comprehensive Senate bill, and senior Republicans say it is unlikely that the party, bruised from its internal battle over the government shutdown, will pivot quickly to an issue that has long rankled conservatives.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a leadership ally, told reporters Wednesday there is virtually no chance the party would take up immigration reform before the next round of budget and debt ceiling fights are settled. While that could happen by December if a budget conference committee strikes an agreement, that fight is more likely to drag well in 2014: the next deadline for lifting the debt ceiling, for example, is not until Feb. 7.
“I don’t even think we’ll get to that point until we get these other problems solved,” Cole said.
He said it was unrealistic to expect the House to be able to tackle what he called the “divisive and difficult issue” of immigration when it can barely handle the most basic task of keeping the government’s lights on.
“We’re not sure we can chew gum, let alone walk and chew gum, so let’s just chew gum for a while,” Cole said.
In a colloquy on the House floor, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to outline the GOP's agenda between now and the end of 2013.
Cantor rattled off a handful of issues – finishing a farm bill, energy legislation, more efforts to go after ObamaCare – but immigration reform was notably absent.
When Hoyer asked Cantor directly on the House floor for an update on immigration efforts, the majority leader was similarly vague.
There are plenty of bipartisan efforts underway and in discussion between members on both sides of the aisle to try and address what is broken about our immigration system,” Cantor said. “The committees are still working on this issue, and I expect us to move forward this year in trying to address reform and what is broken about our system.”
Immigration reform advocates in both parties have long set the end of the year as a soft deadline for enacting an overhaul because of the assumption that it would be impossible to pass such contentious legislation in an election year.
Aides say party leaders have not ruled out bringing up immigration reform in the next two months, but there is no current plan to do so.
The legislative calendar is also quite limited; because of holidays and recesses, the House is scheduled to be in session for just five weeks the remainder of the year.
In recent weeks, however, some advocates have held out hope that the issue would remain viable for the first few months of 2014, before the midterm congressional campaigns heat up.
Democrats and immigration reform activists have long vowed to punish Republicans in 2014 if they stymie reform efforts, and the issue is expected play prominently in districts with a significant percentage of Hispanic voters next year.
With the shutdown having sent the GOP’s approval rating plummeting, Democrats have appealed to Republicans to use immigration reform as a chance to demonstrate to voters that the two parties can work together and that Congress can do more than simply careen from crisis to crisis.
“Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems,” Obama said Thursday in his latest effort to spur the issue on.
But Republicans largely dismiss that line of thinking and say the two-week shutdown damaged what little trust between the GOP and Obama there was at the outset.
“There is a sincere desire to get it done, but there is also very little goodwill after the president spent the last two months refusing to work with us,” a House GOP leadership aide said. “In that way, his approach in the fiscal fights was very short-sighted: it made his achieving his real priorities much more difficult.”
Once again Mr. Obama has left a hot button issue to languish on the shelf until the last minute and then trots it out to be dealt with “immediately, if not sooner”. He has employed this method in the past to divert the public’s attention away from another issue that is not going well. Unfortunately, it is a tired old strategy that doesn’t work too well with those who understand the game of politics. House Republicans are not falling for it this time and the current session of Congress is very quickly coming to a close. Perhaps, the President may have gone to the well once too often on this issue. But then again, he doesn’t have much to lose politically because, as he has reminded us recently, he is not running for re-election.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Irish Immigration Activist

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Immigration Reform Groups Resume Fight

Immigration Reform Groups Resume Fight
 October 22, 2013 - Politico -Seung Min Kim
 With the brutal fiscal fight now in Capitol Hill’s rearview mirror, immigration reform advocates from across the spectrum are ramping up the pressure on lawmakers to pass a far-reaching overhaul this year.
The more aggressive wing of the immigration reform community is launching a “week of escalation” that will target the top three House GOP leaders and roughly two dozen other Republican lawmakers. Their goal is a vote on immigration reform this year. And the Evangelical Immigration Table is releasing a letter Monday signed by top faith leaders — a missive that comes amid a nationwide prayer blitz for reform.
There’s a glimmer of hope that the House will pass immigration reform this year, but after the shutdown’s end, it’s faint at best. Although the Senate passed comprehensive reform in June, most House Republicans remain highly skeptical of such sweeping overhauls, and there’s no indication that chamber will move its own package of reform bills anytime soon.
Nonetheless, advocates are resuming the fight.
“The dynamics on this are very different than what we saw on the fiscal issue,” said Ali Noorani, who leads the pro-reform National Immigration Forum. “We’re seeing this groundswell of support for reform from the right; … we don’t see that groundswell from both sides of the spectrum on any other issue.”
In a new letter, the Evangelical Immigration Table urges the House to continue working on immigration and take up reform that includes a pathway to legalization or citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The letter, provided to POLITICO, includes signers from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, as well as Sojourners, and is mostly complimentary of the House, although it criticizes an interior enforcement immigration bill that passed the Judiciary Committee in June.
“The work the House has done on immigration reform thus far is commendable,” reads the letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table, which has convened more than 40 major prayer gatherings and roughly 400 smaller ones scattered throughout 40 states.
Meanwhile, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, an umbrella organization for an array of immigration rights groups nationwide, wants to intensify the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as well as 26 Republicans who represent areas with a significant population of Latino and Asian voters. The so-called escalation events will focus on pushing the lawmakers for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform through visits to their Washington and district offices.
“You should expect to see more escalations and more … civil acts of disobedience,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the coalition, who added that activities will also be planned for November. Groups in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement have held several events at which reform advocates have gotten themselves arrested to call attention to the issue.
Meanwhile, Noorani’s Forum is involved in organizing an event Oct. 28-29 during which more than 300 conservative backers of immigration reform will press lawmakers on the need to take up a comprehensive overhaul. They come from more than 50 congressional districts, and among the major GOP-friendly groups involved in the effort are the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-reform coalition headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and, the advocacy organization founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, according to Alex Katz, a spokesman for Bloomberg’s group.
There is still some under-the-radar activity on the issue in the GOP-led House.
A swath of Republicans is still quietly crafting bills that would each overhaul a different section of the immigration system. Five bills have passed key committees, and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has indicated that his panel is working on four more immigration measures.
One would be a legalization measure for young undocumented immigrants being spearheaded by Cantor. Another is a bill providing temporary visas for immigrant workers by Republican Reps. Ted Poe of Texas and Raul Labrador of Idaho. A committee aide said Goodlatte currently has no timetable to bring up the other immigration bills.
There is also a bill that would create a biometric exit system sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) intended to reduce visa overstays, but that measure would go through the Homeland Security Committee.
The official word from House Republican leadership is that the chamber still has immigration reform on its agenda, with Boehner spokesman Michael Steel saying the speaker “remains committed to a step-by-step process to fix our broken immigration system.”
But Republicans privately and publicly say their already testy relations with President Barack Obama have been poisoned by the rancorous fiscal battle, which ended with a major capitulation from congressional Republicans. Rep. Raul Labrador, a conservative backer of immigration reform, encapsulated that thinking at a recent forum when he said it would be “crazy” for House Republicans to negotiate with Obama after the grueling past few weeks.
“The president’s attitude and actions over the past few weeks have certainly made getting anything done on immigration considerably harder,” a senior congressional Republican aide said in an email.
Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, one of the House’s biggest GOP proponents of a rewrite of U.S. immigration laws, acknowledged that the shutdown and debt limit battle “clearly … doesn’t make it easier” for reform. Still, he dismissed the influence that Obama may hold in the House on immigration.
“The president has not been a factor, has never been a factor and as far as our efforts in the House, won’t be a factor,” Diaz-Balart said. “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but he needs to do what he’s been doing for the last five years, which is just nothing.”
Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the pro-reform U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that Boehner emerged from the fiscal fight with widespread praise from his conservative flank, which may provide him with some room to maneuver within his Republican Conference.
“It might give him some leverage,” Appleby said, who noted that his group has “only gotten positive messages” from House GOP leaders on immigration. “I think at this point, I think the stakes are higher because the American public is playing closer attention to how Congress conducts its business.”
Democrats have made it clear that enacting immigration reform is next on their agenda after the bruising shutdown and debt ceiling battles.
Obama placed it high on his list of priorities in a speech on the day the government reopened. House Democrats have released a comprehensive immigration bill designed to pressure their GOP counterparts, but that has not attracted Republican support and will not go anywhere. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wants to refocus on the issue.
“I think we need to get this done,” Reid said on Univision’s “Al Punto” on Sunday. “And I will never agree to anything that doesn’t have a pathway to citizenship.”
Aside from embracing a piece-by-piece process advocated by Goodlatte, the House Republican leadership hasn’t committed to a timeline or strategy for bringing immigration bills to the floor. How much Democratic support the bills would need is unclear. A bloc of House conservatives has pledged to vote against any immigration measure, even if they support the policy, to prevent the chamber from entering into a formal conference committee with the Senate and its Gang of Eight bill.
Immigration advocates were heartened somewhat by the final agreement that lifted the nation’s debt limit and ended the government shutdown, which did not gain majority support from Republicans and had to be carried by Democratic votes. They believed that it showed a willingness on Boehner’s part to allow critical legislation to pass by breaking the so-called Hastert rule, which requires majority backing from the party in control of the House.
But that may be more of an apples-to-oranges comparison, as some note.
“At some point, you have to fund government; at some point, you have to deal with the debt,” said NumbersUSA President Roy Beck, who supports reducing immigration. “There’s absolutely no similarity between those and the immigration bill.”
The other complicating factor is time.
Diaz-Balart said that is his chief concern. The debt ceiling and shutdown agreement lays out a series of short-term deadlines, such as a mid-January expiration of government funding and a debt limit that is raised until Feb. 7. The Treasury Department’s extraordinary measures could buy more time on the latter, but it’s unclear how much. But that timeline means this fall is the likeliest window Congress has to work on immigration before lawmakers will again be consumed by fiscal issues.
“There’s a very clear window now for the next month or two,” said Jeremy Robbins, director of the Partnership for a New American Economy. “The key is to make the case for the political imperative.”
If anybody thinks that this legislation is going to sail right through Congress, they must also believe in the tooth fairy. The Obama administration, specifically Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the President, steadfastly refused to negotiate with Congress on the debt ceiling and "Obamacare" and now they expect Congress to turn the other cheek and allow immigration reform to be passed without any opposition by the same members of Congress who were told there would be no negotiation the other two issues. As a staunch, long standing proponent of  immigration reform I truly hope that I am wrong but I fear that the Obama administration's intransigent attitude has raised the ire of many in Congress. Unfortunately, the immigration issue could suffer as a result.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ill-served as President becomes increasingly partisan and political

Higgins has resorted to tiresome name-calling of the reactionary left, including their favourite term of abuse ‘neoliberal’


Irish Times – 19 Sept. 2013

President Michael D Higgins should understand the limitations of the role of president and, more specifically, not to use it as a platform to advance his radical far left political agenda.
President Michael D Higgins gave a speech on economics at Dublin City University last week. Among many other things, he posed questions about the discipline in the post-crisis age and sought to “explore the contemporary possibilities for developing ethical arts of economic government”.
While the Constitution gives him no role in economic government, it is perfectly appropriate for a largely figurehead, non-executive president to raise such matters, including discussing “possibilities” – note the plural – around ethics and economic governance. Providing thought leadership is exactly what such a president should do.
But that is not what President Higgins did last week. Instead, his speech was highly ideological and one-sided. It exclusively extolled far left-of-centre thinkers, including some quite extreme figures. All non-leftists mentioned were implicitly traduced. Worst of all, it excluded the majority who occupy the middle ground and who carry little or no ideological baggage.
Before critiquing what the President said in detail, let me say that I gave President Higgins my first preference vote when he ran for the State’s highest office. I did so because, of the contenders in with a chance of election, he was the least bad of the bunch. He is a cerebral man and, as a lifelong politician, he might have been expected to understand the limitations of the role and, more specifically, not to use it as a platform to advance a political agenda.
Unfortunately, he has dashed that hope. His interventions have become increasingly political and partisan. Last week’s speech illustrated this in a number of ways.
The company one keeps says a lot about a person. That is as true in intellectual life as it is in social life. President Higgins keeps only one kind of intellectual company. Those mentioned approvingly at DCU included Ernst Bloch, Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, David Harvey, Ruth Levitas, Philip Mirowski, Jamie Peck, William Morris, R H Tawney and Edmond Villey. The only Irish person quoted (other than himself) was Kathleen Lynch, an equality studies academic in UCD. All are very firmly on the left of the political spectrum.

‘Neoliberal’ scaremongering
As if the political hue of all those cited approvingly in the speech was not enough to demonstrate bias, President Higgins resorted to the tiresome name-calling of the reactionary left. Their favourite term of abuse is “neoliberal”, a label slapped on those whose views on the relative roles of market and state differ from theirs.
Because nobody anywhere defines himself/herself as “neoliberal”, this makes dialogue impossible and the making of conspiracy myths all too easy, as the President illustrated well in his speech.
“Neoliberalism has, from the first meetings of Ludwig Von Mises, Hayek and Milton Friedman, been a conscious ideological project” he said, adding that it “does make assumptions about human nature and the good society. Yet these are rarely stated”. Given that nobody claims to be a “neoliberal” it is hardly surprising that they are rarely stated.
The setting up of an us-versus-neoliberals contest is not only divisive, it is grossly reductionist. Most people support both competitive markets and state-organised redistribution. The choice is not binary. To the chagrin of hardline ideologues on both the left and free market right, Ireland and peer countries have a mix of market and state in economic life.
Among the most pernicious comments in the speech was this: “we must endeavour to restore the commitment to reducing poverty and economic inequality as a project that is at the very heart of public action” (my emphasis).
This a thinly veiled and highly political accusation that previous governments and/or society generally once shared that commitment, but have since moved away from it. The claim is as nonsensical as it is unsubstantiated. All the evidence contradicts it. By far the single biggest item of public expenditure is the welfare system. Much of the rest goes on publicly providing health and education services.
Further, most of the public expenditure growth in the half-decade to 2008 that was funded by the property bubble has been maintained since. Now it is funded by new taxes and future taxes (in the form of borrowing). The comment is an insult to the much reduced numbers at work who have sacrificed a lot more of their incomes (in taxation) to support the increased number of those who are not working.
The President is moving into dangerous territory with his increasingly politicized and partisan interventions. He should think carefully about where the path he appears intent on taking will lead his presidency.
Michael D. Higgins has, for many years, been a very outspoken proponent of radical socialist political views. He has also been a relentless critic of United States foreign policy and our free market economy. He participated in, and in some cases organized, the reprehensible protests against refueling stopovers at Shannon Airport by aircraft transporting our American military personnel to and from Iraq and Afghanistan. It was only a matter of time before he would inject his radical socialist views into his speeches even though the Irish Constitution prohibits its president from becoming involved in partisan politics. It appears that he has clearly violated this requirement and shamed himself and the very prestigious office that he holds.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Proud Citizen of the United States of America and Ireland

Friday, August 30, 2013

’s largest mosque gets approval from An Bord Pleanála

Irish Times - 29 August 2013


Mosque complex in Clongriffin north Dublin will cover more than 5,500 square metres

Plans for Ireland’s largest mosque at Clongriffin in north Dublin have been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála.
The three-story mosque will be located on a six acre site in North Dublin on land owned by developer Gerry Gannon.
The €40 million development will include two minarets, a cultural centre, prayer hall, offices, crèche, bookshop, library, mortuary, a six-hundred seat conference centre, restaurant, primary school, secondary school, a two-story fitness centre with an indoor swimming pool, gym, sauna and steam room and blocks of apartments.
The complex will cater for up to 3,000 people during festivals and up to 550 for Friday prayers. The whole complex is 5,573sqm in size.
An Bord Pleanala granted permission subject to a number of revised conditions including that there should be no call to prayer broadcast from the minarets as is the tradition with mosques.
It also ruled that there should be an archaeological assessment of the site prior to development starting and it called for a proposed brick wall around part of the site boundary to be replaced with a railing. It also wants nine fewer car parking spaces.
Dublin City Council granted planning permission for the mosque at Clongriffin in North Dublin last March.
Local Labour TD Tommy Broughan lodged an appeal against the decision with An Bord Pleanala.
Mr Broughan’s objections related to the size of the development and possible traffic concerns.
He said the size of the development does not comply with the objectives of the county development plan or the local area plan.
Clongriffin mosque will be the third purpose-built mosque in Ireland. The other two are in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo and at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh in Dublin.
There is also a purpose built Shia Islamic Centre at Milltown in Dublin. There are over 50,000 Muslims living in Ireland. Many worship in makeshift mosques in residential houses or in warehouses in industrial estates.
The Dublin Welfare Society, who are developing the project, are made up of a group of Muslims from different backgrounds and nationalities living in Ireland.
The Society is currently involved in managing makeshift mosques in Swords and Clondalkin. Both of these mosques are located in industrial estates.
Abdul Haseeb, project co-ordinator for the Clongriffin Mosque Project has said they were delighted with An Bord Pleanala’s decision. “At the same time”, he added “we are very humbled because of the scale of the project. It is so big and there is so much to do.
“It gives a sense of positivity for the Muslim community in Ireland especially when there’s so much negativity going on, particularly in the Middle East, and there’s so much tension everywhere. It gives us a sense of belonging too.”
Mr Haseeb said the next step in the development will be to build a community around it which would include non-Muslims.
He added: “We will try and make room for everyone. We are aware that there will be challenges ahead but because we got planning it gives us a good reason now to invite the local community leaders and members to come and sit down and talk to us. So far we’ve mainly introduced the project to the Muslim community but now we will start inviting and sitting down with the local community.”
Clongriffin is a newly developed area in North Dublin just north of Donaghmede. Much of the land in the locality, including the site for the mosque, is owned by developer Gerry Gannon. The site of the mosque is currently derelict.
Development in Clongriffin came to a halt with the collapse of the property market and some roads in the area were left unfinished.
Its centre square is surrounded by modern retail units but many of the units have remained vacant since construction was completed.
Local Labour TD Sean Kenny welcomed the An Bord Pleanala decision.
“The mosque would be welcomed generally by people in the area,” Mr Kenny said. “It would generate employment and lead to the completion of Clongriffin estate and some of the roads as well as completion of access to the dart station. It could also lead to greater occupancy of the vacant units.”
This Irish Times article should convince those very naïve Americans of Irish heritage who believe that the Ireland depicted in “The Quiet Man” simply does not exist today. The stark reality is that over 50,000 practicing Muslims are currently living in our beloved ancestral homeland. Statistics show that at least 70 percent of native born Irish Catholics no longer practice the faith that they were brought up in. The cold hard facts are that if current emigration trends continue, in a few short years it is estimated that multicultural immigrants will outnumber native born Irish nationals. I hope that I never see it, but statistics predict that it is inevitable. God Save Ireland!!!
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree
Proud Citizen of the United States of America and Ireland  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Over 4,000 to become ‘new’ Irish citizens

Irish Times – 27 August 2013
Some 1,816 men and 2,288 women are today becoming the Republic’s newest citizens.
The ‘new’ Irish are taking part in a series of ceremonies in the Convention Centre in Dublin overseen by the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon.
Addressing the first group of more than 1,000 people who swore allegiance to the State this morning, Mr Shatter said they were the 73rd group to become “part of the national family” since citizenship ceremonies were introduced in June 2011.
Mr Shatter told the candidates, whom he noted were from every continent and 170 different countries, they were joining a state “which provides constitutional and general law protections against all types of discrimination”. He said it was a state where men and women were guaranteed equal treatment under law and where people’s sexual orientation and preferences are respected.
“Our history is your history and in turn the narrative of your life becomes part of our history” he said.
Administering the Declaration of Fidelity to the Irish Nation and Loyalty to the State, Mr McMahon, said there were “no second-class or half citizens” of the Republic and urged them and their families to take an active part in Irish citizenship, while remembering the traditions, music and arts of their former homes.
Mr Shatter, who initiated the citizenship ceremonies, said he was considering legislation to establish them on a permanent footing, to ensure they continue after his term in office.
He said good progress had been made in dealing with a backlog of more than 22,000 citizenship applications in March 2011, when waiting times for a decision were at least two years and sometimes considerably more. Waiting times were now generally down to about six months, he said, while the current intake of 20,000 applications per year is running at over twice the rate of new applications three or four years ago.
“It is truly remarkable that this tiny island at the edge of Western Europe facing into the Atlantic Ocean which is home to us all has, as its citizens, as members of the national family, people who came to live with us from every country on this planet” he said.
This article and a similar one not too long ago gives testimony to three cold hard facts. They are: a.) that every native born Irish person who finds living in the land of their birth so distasteful that they must emigrate are quickly being replaced by immigrants from every corner of the globe who are eager to fill the void left by their “forced departure”; b.) if these new “Irish” bring their “traditions, music, and arts from their native countries with them to Ireland as they are being urged to do in the article above, it will not be long before the traditions, music and arts of their adopted country become relegated to the memories of those native born Irish who chose to stay at home; 3.) the country that once proudly claimed to be the most Catholic country in Europe is very quickly becoming a very secular, or perhaps more accurately Muslim one, much the same as Britain did not so long ago. I, for one, find this globalization of the land of my heritage very disturbing.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Proud Citizen of the United States of America and Ireland

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Brutal description of abortion necessary in sanitised debate of half-truths

Jim Walsh - Fianna Fáil Senator – Speech to Seanad
James Reilly is about to bring in abortion - it is wrong to ignore the disturbing facts
Given how the abortion debate has developed in recent months, I was not surprised by the reaction to aspects of my speech in the Seanad last week.
The vast majority of media commentary has simply repeated the Government spin that its abortion legislation is “extremely restrictive” and has written off any contrary position as scaremongering.
Few in the media seem to consider for a second the distinct possibility that the new law could, over time, lead to wide-ranging abortion.
Some commentators and parliamentarians may genuinely believe the legislation is strictly confined to life-saving interventions to safeguard the lives of pregnant women. However, deep down, many must know the reality will be quite different.
I knew my speech would be criticised but chose to make it because the debate has been dominated by sanitised half-truths and comforting fictions. One of these fictions is that the Bill is “restrictive”. The unborn have neither a voice nor a vote, so if those of a pro-life ethos do not articulate the protection of their innocent, vulnerable status, their cause is conceded, to the shame of humanity.
Abortion on demand
A look at the experience of jurisdictions from California to New Zealand shows that laws almost identical to the one the Government is introducing have led to abortion on request.
This is why the Labour Party has campaigned so hard for 21 years for legislation based on the X case. Its spokespeople, from Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, have been quite clear they see the Bill as a stepping stone to abortion on request.
I make no apology for using graphic descriptions of abortion during the committee stage in the Seanad. The context in which I did so was seeking to ascertain what precise methods of abortion will be used under the new law.
The answers the Minister for Health gave were far from reassuring. Inexcusably, he was unable to confirm what abortion procedures will be allowed. All we know is the law he is bringing in permits terminations that are life-ending not life-saving. Indeed the abortion procedure is not in any way circumscribed.
If my descriptions were horrific and “disgusting”, what does that say about the procedure itself, a procedure that we are set to legalise?
I was mindful of trying not to add to the heartbreak of women who have been through the experience. I met with women from groups such as Women Hurt who pleaded with members of the Oireachtas to speak out about the devastating consequences of abortion and help end the spiral of silence about its brutality and what it inflicts on an innocent unborn child.
It’s perfectly legitimate for commentators and others to attack my speech. In a democracy, you expect that. But democracy functions better when all sides are scrutinised and criticised equally. That isn’t what is happening here.

Selective outrage
When a Senator last week described babies with a fatal foetal abnormality as “a cluster of cells which will develop into a large piece of tissue that will have no head, no brain, no spinal cord”, where was the outrage and condemnation from any newspaper? Where was the demand to correct this misleading description or to apologise to the families of babies who were born with this condition and loved for as long as they lived?
With the Government set to introduce abortion disguised as medical interventions, I believe that it is an appropriate time to describe the reality of what is being proposed.
Where is the righteous indignation that is freely expressed by our AOH leadership on issues that are far less important than the sanctity of human life? Some of our more vocal members do not hesitate to remind us of our obligations under the Preamble to our AOH National Constitution with regard to other issues. It would appear that these very same, usually vocal members seem to forget that we are a Catholic fraternal organization first and foremost and every other issue comes after our pledge to support and uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our strong opposition to the brutal practice of abortion should apply whether it occurs in America, Ireland, or anywhere else. We have a National Chairman of Pro Life who seems to be very timid with regard to calling our members attention to that portion of our AOH National Constitution which requires us to “protect all human life, born and unborn”. I commend Irish Senator Jim Walsh for his courageous stance on the scourge of abortion and only wish that our AOH leadership would take such a public position on this issue.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kenny: 'I'm a Catholic. Not the best, but a Catholic nonetheless' Taoiseach says his faith is not damaged by abortion bill row

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor– 19 July 2013
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny insists his Catholic faith has not been damaged by the controversy over his Government passing the country's first abortion legislation.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Kenny says he remains a regular Massgoer and his religious beliefs are intact.
"I'm a Catholic, admittedly not the best Catholic, but I am a Catholic," he says.
Mr Kenny adds that he is "clear in my mind" the Government's passing of the abortion legislation through the Dail was "absolutely the right thing".
In a wide-ranging interview, at the end of a long Dail term, Mr Kenny says:
* The EU bank deal will take another year to be finalised.
* He wants any funds in the Budget to be put into job creation.
* The DPP is right to take her time in pursuing banking prosecutions.
* The final Dail vote on the abortion legislation reflects the public mood.
* He has a "respectful relationship" with Lucinda Creighton and the other rebels.
* There will be a ministerial reshuffle in the "latter half" of the Coalition's term.
The Taoiseach says the abortion legislation dealt with "very sensitive issues".
Defending his handling of the passing of the legislation within Fine Gael, he says he made himself available to reassure backbenchers about where they stood.
Mr Kenny says the final vote on the legislation, where three-quarters of all TDs backed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013, was in tune with public opinion.
"I think the vote in the Dail reflected accurately the public mood and the public expression of support in this case," he says.
The Taoiseach says he had no regrets and it was clear in his mind that the Government did the right thing.
"It brings regulation, legal certainty and provides the women of the country who have had a Constitutional right conferred upon them, by virtue of the vote of the people and endorsed secondly, that they were never able to have clarity about – now that clarity is there, that certainty is there," he says.
"And that is a good thing in terms of my Constitutional responsibility here. As I said on many occasions, it is about women, it's about their lives and the lives of their unborn children.
"Written into the legislation is the clarity of the Constitutional responsibility of medical personnel to do everything practical and possible to save the life of the unborn, as well as that of the mother."
Mr Kenny says he retains his staunch Catholic faith and remains a regular Massgoer. He remains dismissive about the threats of excommunication flagged before the abortion legislation debate.
"I have answered that before by saying I talk to my God. That's it. I don't want to comment about the Catholic Church," he says.
Mr Kenny says he remains "respectful" towards Lucinda Creighton and the other Fine Gael TDs who voted against the abortion legislation.
"My relationship is she is a member of Fine Gael, until she decides not to be a member of Fine Gael, if that is her choice," he says.
"I have to say that I appointed Lucinda as Minister for European Affairs as part of the team of government. She played her part effectively in the whole business of preparation for the EU Presidency and during the Presidency.
"So I have a very respectful relationship with every member of the party and those who voted against the party, and as a consequence removed themselves from the parliamentary process," he adds.
After appointing two junior ministers in recent months, Mr Kenny says the Cabinet will be the same in the autumn and sticks to his previous commitment not to have a reshuffle this year.
"I'll have the same team of ministers when I come back in September. I'm sure they'll breathe a sigh of relief when they read that."
When asked when the Cabinet reshuffle would take place, he replies: "You are talking the latter half of the Government."
Mr. Kenny raises the same tired argument that is “overused” by politicians who profess to be Catholic while they take “politically correct public positions that are in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church”. There comes a time in the course of their political careers when they can demonstrate to the electorate whether or not they are endowed with a “spine”. Lucinda Creighton, Peadar Toibin, and others proved that they are so endowed. Mr. Kenny fell far short of passing the test. As a result, he will go down in the history of Dail Eireann as the Taoiseach who allowed the first step toward “abortion on demand” to become law in Ireland, a country that once proudly claimed the title of “the most Catholic country in Europe”. Shame on Mr. Kenny, a Catholic in name only.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Don’t believe the media, race was key to the Zimmerman case

Irish Central - July 16, 2013
When everyone in the media tells you the George Zimmerman acquittal had nothing to do with race don’t believe a word of it.
It was all about race, all about a non-black jury who had no idea whatever about the life of a young black person and who saw him the way George Zimmerman saw him - as a threat.
The prosecution’s major mistake began right at jury selection when they were totally outmaneuvered by defense attorney Mark O’Mara and formed a six person jury with no African Americans.
A tall young black man in a hoodie walking through a white neighborhood on a wet and dark night signified only one thing to Zimmerman and the non-black jury felt the same way too.

Never mind the fact that the 17-year-old had merely gone to a nearby store to get some skittles and iced tea.

Never mind that George Zimmerman stalked him and refused to back off even after being told to do so by a police dispatcher.
What subsequently happened was as predictable as an all-black jury acquitting OJ Simpson and probably just as big a travesty.

The outcome that George Zimmerman had no responsibility for the death of Travyon Martin is ludicrous.

The juror who spoke on Anderson Cooper on CNN unbelievably wanted Zimmerman to be on her Neighborhood Watch program even after this killing and referred to him as “George” throughout the interview.

Some defense lawyers like to talk about the reptilian brain, the part of our minds that make decisions subconsciously based on whether we see someone as a threat or a friend. It is what has helped us survive for millions of years as a species.

It was obvious to the non-white jury that Martin was the threat, the “other’. Zimmerman was a friend.

The jurors, like in the O.J Simpson trial, heard what they wanted to hear. The juror on CNN made clear she had no sympathy with Trayvon Martin’s witnesses.

That was especially the case with the young woman Rachel Jeantel who spoke a language the juror frankly admitted she could not understand.

In the end, given that, the result was as inevitable as it was predictable. Throw in the useless prosecutors who overcharged to begin with and you had a recipe for Zimmerman getting off scot-free.

Sometimes the law is an ass, it was with O.J and it is now again with George Zimmerman.
Sometimes, actually more often than not, Mr. O’Dowd whom we all know is a died in the wool “European Socialist in training” and his crew of “wannabee writers are dead wrong in their interpretation of our AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM. First of all, the jury is picked from a pool of American citizens by both the prosecution and the defense. Both sides have the right to an equal number of challenges. If the prosecution did not use their challenges wisely, shame on them for their incompetence. A jury of six was empanelled along with three alternates and the trial took place in accordance with Florida law. Following a fair and impartial trial, the jury was charged with deliberating all the facts that they had heard during the course of the trial. After sixteen hours of intense deliberation, they rendered their decision, which was that the defendant was NOT GUILTY. That is how cases are tried in AMERICA and when a jury renders their decision we, AMERICANS, accept that all parties have had their day in court and whether we agree with the verdict or not, justice has been served.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America