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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Creighton denies her political career is over

Former junior minister says politics a ‘brutal’ profession after Fine Gael expulsion

Irish Times – 13 July 2013

Former minister of state for European affairs Lucinda Creighton has pledged to fight on in politics and remain in Fine Gael after forfeiting both her ministerial office and parliamentary party membership.
The Dublin South-East TD, who voted against the Government during the abortion legislation debate on Thursday night, described the current Dáil as a “sorry place” but insisted her passion for domestic politics has not diminished.

‘Brutal’ profession
“What I say to people who canvassed for Garret FitzGerald and who’ve been there through the decades – real, genuine, loyal Fine Gael people who are just so upset about this – I’ve been saying to them, ‘This isn’t about competition between me and Fine Gael because I am Fine Gael’.”
Ms Creighton described politics as a “brutal” profession in an interview with The Irish Times and said it was “bizarre” that she had been expelled from the parliamentary party for voting with her conscience.
 “You have to stand up and be counted in politics sometimes and I’ve no regrets that I did that. None whatsoever . . . It’s sad, it’s unfortunate but I’m sure I’ll be back. I don’t see it as the end by any means,” she said.
“I think the idea that you’re down and out because you take a position and you stand up for what you believe to be right, that somehow that’s the end of your political career. I think that’s total nonsense to be honest.”

Ruled out
Ms Creighton objected to the inclusion of a suicide clause in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which proceeds to the Seanad on Monday having been passed by the Dáil. She had appealed for a relaxation of the “archaic and out-of-date” whip system but this was firmly ruled out by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
She said ministers for European affairs in other EU states had texted her yesterday to say they could not understand why she had been effectively sacked, “because it just doesn’t happen in any other country – nobody is ever asked to vote against their conscience”.
Ms Creighton will travel to Washington next week to represent the European People’s Party (EPP), of which she is a vice-president, at a conference and hopes to be actively involved in the grouping in the years ahead.
While not interested in running for the European Parliament, “bringing that global and international perspective to the domestic stage” remained a goal, she said.
“I’m a TD and I love being a TD and the likelihood is I’ll be a candidate at the next election but I haven’t thought that far ahead and nor do I wish to.”
Her position on abortion, which has changed since her student days, was influenced by speaking to friends who had a “negative” experience of termination, she said.
Ms Creighton is married to Senator Paul Bradford, who will oppose the abortion legislation in the Upper House next week.
“Paul isn’t just my husband he’s my best friend but I can assure you that I don’t take any political instruction or direction from my husband. The people who have been spreading that around Leinster House need to wake up,” she said.
‘Personal question’Mr Bradford has made his position on the Seanad abolition referendum clear, describing it as a “cynical political exercise”. Asked how she would vote in the upcoming poll, Ms Creighton laughed: “That’s a very personal question and one that I won’t answer for fear of offending my husband.”
So is it a point of difference between them? “We don’t agree on everything. Like every couple we have our points of disagreement.”
Ms Creighton rejected speculation that she would be involved in a new party or might liaise with Libertas founder Declan Ganley, who has proposed a fresh political movement that respects the conscience of every legislator on issues such as abortion.
“He says he’s a European federalist. I would share that view but I think that we actually practise what we preach in a very different way so I don’t know that our approach would be compatible.”
The qualified barrister also dismissed speculation that she would pursue a career in law. “I really loved the Law Library but I’m just not sure that I want to go back rather than go forward.”
It is very refreshing to see that there are, in fact, elected officials in Ireland that are guided by their conscience and not by political ambition. Lucinda Creighton, Peadar Toibin, and the other members of the Dail who chose not to be led like sheep by their spineless leadership who are determined to lead Ireland down the road from their traditional Catholic roots toward European socialism. As an American Catholic fraternal organization with close ties to our Irish heritage, we, Hibernians, should commend those members of the Dail who voted in favor of the culture of life rather than the senseless and wanton destruction of the most vulnerable among us, the unborn. I will take this opportunity to remind all of our Hibernian Brothers & Sisters that our AOH National Constitution which we have taken an oath to uphold requires us: to protect all life, born and unborn.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In Boston 10,000 undocumented Irish wait anxiously for news on immigration bill

Niall O’Dowd – Irish Central - July 11, 2013
Boston: Father John McCarthy is the emigrant chaplain at St. Brendan’s parish in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood.

He has been on loan for more years that he cares to remember from the diocese of Limerick.

As an emigrant and pastor he is passionate about the emigrants from Ireland he takes care of and estimates there are 10,000 Irish undocumented among his far flung flock.

These days he is a worried man, worried about
whether immigration reform will pass this time at last.
“We have so many people just hanging on, desperate really” he says “ I know it is the same in other communities, but the Irish undocumented need this bill desperately.”

Looking after the undocumented is a huge part of his mission at the nearby Irish Pastoral Center.

Several times a week he visits Irish prisoners in Boston area jails. He is an old fashioned man of the cloth, a doer not a preacher and a huge admirer of Pope Francis and the humility and grace he has quickly come to represent.

He has faith in American goodness, that the extraordinary goodwill and kindness he sees every day towards the less fortunate will also prevail in the immigration battle.

“I don’t know what people will do if it does not pass.”, he said. “Our hopes are sky high, it would allow them to contribute so much to America and American life.”
Father John made St. Brendan’s parish hall where the parishioners are 25 percent Irish available to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, an organization I co-founded with Ciaran Staunton.
Our task in Boston on Wednesday night was to inform the 100 or so Irish who attended the meeting about what was happening on immigration reform.
It is clear that the dream of reform is what keeps this Irish neighborhood alive, I met a woman who was undocumented for 22 years until her American son passed the age of 21 and made her legal.

How did it feel?: “I can't describe it,” she said. “I just hope others can achieve it too.”

I spoke to someone else who told me how undocumented Irish drivers pick routes that take them through neighborhoods they know Irish American cops police, so that if they are stopped for having no license they may be treated leniently.

It is this life of subterfuge and underground existence that the new reform bill would sweep away in an instant. The contribution to America of such people from wherever in the world would be all that greater.

In Boston, the most Irish city in America, the new generation of Irish, most undocumented, wait and whisper hope.

“Please God this time,” says Father John, a hugely popular figure. “It would be a crushing blow if it does not happen.”

Let’s hope it does.
If there are, in actual fact, 10,000 undocumented Irish in Boston waiting for immigration reform legislation to pass in the U.S. Congress, it is very sad that the organizers of this “informational meeting” could only entice “100 or so” people to attend. Those numbers are reminiscent of a similar meeting that was organized by the same group in Quincy a few years ago. At the Quincy venue which I attended, I would estimate there were about 70 people and out of that number, there were approximately 20 to 25 who were undocumented Irish nationals The remaining number were established Irish Americans who were there to learn from then U.S. Congressman Bill Delahunt about the progress of immigration legislation that was being debated in Congress at that time. The dismal attendance at both of these well advertised meetings is a very clear testimonial to the less than effective organizational skills of both the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and its “leadership”. It would appear that the only thing that has changed from then until now is the calendar.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Past AOH National Chairman of Immigration
2011 Golden Bridges Award Recipient  (for my decades of work on behalf of undocumented Irish nationals)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ros-Lehtinen: House conservatives may kill any immigration bill

By Justin Sink Staff Writer – The Hill
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said Friday that she knows the Senate immigration bill is "not going to move in the House" and expressed fears that conservative Republicans will block any House legislation from proceeding.
But Ros-Lehtinen nevertheless is hopeful that Republicans can pass some sort of border security bill that would allow a comprehensive immigration reform deal to be struck in conference committee.
"I do support it but I understand that bill is not going to move in the house," Ros-Lehtinen told CNN. "We're hoping that any bill will pass in the House so we can go into conference with the Senate, and then out of that conference will be a balanced bill."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will only proceed with immigration bills that have the backing of a majority of his Republican majority, dimming the prospects for the legislation that passed the Senate in a 68-32 vote on Thursday.
Ros-Lehtinen said she was most concerned that warring factions within the House would block any bill from proceeding, preventing a possible conference committee compromise.
"My fear is this -- that the more conservative members of our party will vote no because they worry about any bill getting into conference, even though they may agree with that border security bill, and many Democrats may vote no because they want to deal with the 11 million undocumented first," she said.
"We just need to get to conference and try to negotiate compromise."
The Miami Republican admitted that it would be a "very difficult" tightrope to walk, but said conservative Republicans felt the need to ensure border security protections after an immigration bill signed during Ronald Reagan's presidency failed to stop illegal immigration to the United States.
"We've got to make sure the American people trust and believe and we can prove to them that there will be border security," Ros-Lehtinen said.
 It would appear as though Sen. Schumer and his “Gang of 8” had better be prepared to dig in their heels and get ready to do battle with the House if they want their version of an immigration reform bill to come out of conference looking anything like it does now. There is no doubt that there will be many amendments offered and many concessions made before a bill that is acceptable to both the Senate and the House makes its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. There are only two things that we can be sure of at this point: 1.) There will be some type of resolution to the plight of the undocumented currently living here in the U.S. This is a problem that some of us who work with them have tried to keep as our top priority from the very beginning. We have felt very strongly that legislation to address future flows of immigrants could and should come after the plight of the undocumented is permanently resolved. 2.) The United States of America as a sovereign nation has every right, as well as an obligation to her citizens, to insure that no measure is spared in this age of international terrorism to secure her borders against unwanted and unwelcome intruders. In my view as well as that of many other immigration reform advocates, everything else is on the table and subject to negotiation and compromise.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, July 4, 2013

US multinationals have over 1,400 job vacancies in Ireland

US multinationals have over 1,400 job vacancies in Ireland

US multinationals operating here have over 1,400 job vacancies, the results of a new survey show.

 The jobs, details of which were released at the American Chamber of Commerce’s annual Independence Day Lunch, are available in 100 companies in roles like engineering, sales and customer support and R&D.

A survey of 100 multinationals showed that 75pc are currently advertising vacant positions while 69pc are filling vacancies within three months.
Peter Keegan, President of the American Chamber said; “The results of our annual survey are encouraging and point to continued confidence in the multinational sector which has maintained and grown net employment during the current recession.
“The quality of Irish graduates is widely recognised and the availability of a skilled workforce is critical to the continued attraction of Ireland as a location for US companies.”
According to the American Chamber of Commerce, 115,000 people are directly employed in over 700 US firms in Ireland accounting for over 70pc of all IDA supported employment.
This survey, if accurate, raises the question: why is there such a drastic need for the huge numbers of young Irish to emigrate other than many of them view emigration as an “adventure”. Unfortunately, most of those who leave, do so on short term visitors visas and finish up overstaying their visas and lapse into illegal status which carries very severe consequences. Why would they not fill some of these vacancies at home and, if they still have a burning desire to emigrate, they could “bide their time” until immigration regulations in the country of their choice become more flexible and welcoming to prospective new legal permanent residents. According to this survey, it would appear that the old story about no work available in Ireland seems to no longer be the case. 
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians