Monday, October 13, 2014

IRA informer names senior Provo in charge of gang who murdered Paul Quinn

Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life - October 13, 2014An informer within IRA ranks has come forward with crucial new information about the murder of South Armagh man, Paul Quinn, seven years ago.
The disillusioned Provo has told gardai the name of the senior republican from the border area whom he alleges led the gang who brutally beat the 21-year-old to death in a barn in Co Monaghan.
Sources close to the investigation said the IRA veteran has recently been quizzed by detectives leading the murder inquiry as a result of this information.
Paul Quinn died in hospital shortly after he was savagely assaulted on 20 October 2007.
His family and friends will gather in Cullyhanna next weekend for a Mass and commemoration to mark the seventh anniversary of his murder.
In an interview with Sunday Life, Paul's father, Stephen Quinn, accused Sinn Féin of continuing to shield his son's killers but he warned that the gardai investigation remained very active.
"We believe we'll secure justice. This isn't a case the gardai has put on the back burner. It's open and progressing all the time.
"Those who murdered my son may think they've got away with it but they shouldn't sleep easily in their beds. Their past will catch up with them," he said.
A source close to the investigation said the senior local Provisional went voluntarily to Carrickmacross garda station to be interviewed in the presence of his solicitor after hearing detectives had been searching for him.
"Information that this man led the IRA gang who beat Paul Quinn with cudgels and iron bars has been conveyed to gardai.
"They have been told he stood in the barn, giving the instructions to Paul's assailants," the source said.
The senior Provisional, who is in his 50s, has previously served a prison sentence and is well known in the south Armagh and north Louth area. He has held position within Sinn Féin.
Police on both sides of the border believe he was one of three IRA men involved in the November 1994 murder of Newry post office worker, Frank Kerr, but he has never faced charges in connection with that incident.
Kerr, the first person the IRA killed after its ceasefire, was shot in the head as he struggled with the gang robbing the mail office. They escaped with £130,000.
The republican questioned about Paul Quinn's murder is known as a 'heavy' for the Provos. He was one of those who knocked on the doors of Real IRA members to issue death threats against them in 1998.
Although more than 20 people have been arrested during the Quinn murder investigation – including Padraig 'Paudie' Treanor, a former driver of Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy. None has been charged.
The gardai investigation reveals a high degree of planning on the day of the murder.
Phone records examined by detectives showed the mobiles of around eight key suspects were turned off at the same time that afternoon. They were then almost simultaneously turned on after 6pm following the beating.
The IRA targeted Paul Quinn for clashing with several local Provos over minor matters in the months before his killing.
After the murder, Conor Murphy MP said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied they weren't involved. He branded Paul "a criminal" and linked his murder to a feud among criminals.
Former Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, and the SDLP both asserted that Paul wasn't a criminal. Stephen Quinn said: "Seven year's after Paul's murder, we appeal to Conor Murphy, as a politician and a father, to withdraw his disgraceful slur against our son."
Living in a small rural community, the Quinns regularly come face-to-face with the men who killed Paul, Stephen said: "There's not a day I don't meet those who were involved in some way. Whether they ordered or directed it or beat him, they all have blood on their hands."
He accused Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams of failing to help their campaign for justice: "These two could come to south Armagh and secure justice for us within an hour because it's prominent members of the provisional movement who murdered our son."
Breege Quinn is still haunted by the horrific memory of seeing her dying son in hospital seven years ago.
"Paul was lying on the bed with a ventilator tube protruding from his mouth, his eyes half open. His head was swollen and there were gashes on his face.
"His right ear was torn off. Every major bone below his neck was broken. The doctors said nothing could be fixed.
"What mother wouldn't be destroyed seeing the child she gave birth to and reared in that pitiful state? But I'd still rather be Paul's mother than the mother of the people who murdered him," she says.
Up to a dozen masked men wearing black military style clothing were involved in the savage assault in a farm near Oram, Co Monaghan.
From Paul's toes to his groin, they battered him with iron bars. They used nail-studded cudgels on his upper body.
Two friends of Paul's had been working at the farm that day. IRA members arrived, beat the young men and tied them up in a shed.
The lads were then forced to phone Paul and lure him to the farm by claiming they needed a hand shifting cattle.
Paul drove from south Armagh with another friend to help. When they arrived, Paul's friend was taken to the shed were the other two young men were tied up.
Paul was brought to another barn. His friends heard him screaming loudly as the beating began, begging for mercy. As the assault continued, his voice grew weaker and eventually faded away.
Paul had several previous run-ins with senior Provisional IRA figures, their associates and relatives.
He punched the son of the local IRA commander after he had forced Paul's car off the road. After the incident, the wife of the IRA commander threatened Paul with a hammer and warned: "There'll be a body in a bin bag at the side of the road for this."
Paul assaulted another IRA member who had insulted his sister in a taxi depot. He was told he would be shot for that.
Stephen Quinn said: "Had he been given a thump for clashing with the Provos, we wouldn't have complained. But what happened was wicked beyond belief."
I have nothing but the highest level of sympathy and admiration for Paul Quinn’s parents and family. Conversely, I have nothing but the highest level of revulsion and disgust for the perpetrators of this heinous and cowardly act of cold blooded murder. I don’t care what their political affiliation or ideology is or anything else about them other than they are the lowest form of cowards and deserve to be hunted down and punished to the full extent of the law as should any of their enablers before or after the fact.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lifting the veil on Ireland's fastest-growing religion

Irish Independent – 20 Sept 2014
Lorraine O'Connor has had to get used to the "go back to where you come from" taunts. They occur more frequently than she cares to think about - on the street, in the park, at the supermarket.
But the Dubliner who proudly wears the Muslim headscarf, the hijab, every day never lets a verbal attack go unanswered. "I say to them 'I'm from Coolock. Where are you from?' You should see the look on their faces. They weren't expecting to have abused an Irish woman."
Lorraine converted to Islam 17 years ago at a time when Muslim numbers in Ireland were in the thousands rather than the tens of thousands of today. "There are definitely more of us now," she says. "And more and more Irish people are finding that Islam is what they have been searching for."
The immigration of the Celtic Tiger years helped swell numbers to an estimated 65,000 (the 2011 Census lists the number of Muslims here at 49,204) but so too has the numbers of Irish who are now converting. Muslim leaders here insist that as many as 500 Irish are embracing Islam each year. "Like me, people are looking for a simple message and Islam provides that," Lorraine says.
The mother of four daughters - "they all wear the hijab, by choice" - is steeped in the country's new Islamic tradition. She is the founder of the Muslim Sisters of Éire - a group where like-minded Muslim women go swimming or for picnics together - while her husband, Abdul Haseeb, is the "project co-ordinator" of the Clongriffin Mosque development. If completed, this north Dublin mosque and conference centre will be the biggest of its type in Ireland with the capability of accommodating 3,000 people.
"When I converted to Islam, my family and friends were supportive and I would say that the majority of Irish people have a live-and-let live attitude to Muslims," Lorraine says. "But there are people on the street who think it's OK to shout 'terrorist' at a Muslim, for instance, or to assume that the behaviour of fundamentalists abroad is in some way supported by Muslims here."
She is also bothered by Islamaphobia of a more low-level variety, including those liberals who believe that the modest dress expected of devout Muslim women is a form of male oppression. "It's Western women who are oppressed," she says. "They feel they have to be size zeroes and show off as much skin as possible. I feel very liberated that I wear the hijab and those of my friends who wear the burka [the full head-dress covering everything except the eyes] also feel liberated. They are comfortable with who they are and they don't feel they have to conform to western norms."
It's a view shared by another Irish convert, Liza Caulfield, who is now known by her Muslim name Aishah. "I wear it because it's a sign of my devotion to God," she told the Irish Independent recently. "It shows humility with my husband and with the male members of my family. It's a way of sharing your faith with people, of saying: 'Don't be afraid of us - we're all human, we all come and go the one way'.
"I always dressed modestly. I was never comfortable with showing the figure off. We're living in a society where people feel threatened because I choose to not show my body, whereas you have girls as young as 11 or 12 looking at Rihanna. She has a video and she's barely covering her nipples. And there are ladies twerking and pole-dancing. Girls are looking at that and going: 'Yeah, I'm going to get a husband if I do that.' You should be valued for your soul and your personality, not because of how much flesh you show - that's private, and that's your beauty."
Thanks to the hijab, women tend to be more readily identified as Muslim than their male counterparts and that has made them more susceptible to Islamaphobia. James Carr from the University of Limerick has extensively researched discrimination against Muslims in Ireland and notes that a greater proportion of females to males suffer abuse. "I visited 14 towns and cities in Ireland as part of this work and found that 44pc of Muslim women said they experienced hostility directed to them as a result of their faith as opposed to 28pc of Muslim men.
"While men get called 'terrorist' and 'suicide bomber', women are sometimes called 'Osama's wife'. I spoke to two younger Muslim women who had been physically attacked by a group of young men. They had been approached by the group and asked if they were upset that their father was dead - they were referring to Bin Laden because this happened in the days following his death."
Carr says the abuse tends to be verbal but it can go beyond that too. "People have had bottles thrown at them and women have had their hijab pulled from their faces.
"Another thing that I often hear is the sense that many Muslim people do not feel as though their identity is valued in Irish society. You also find Irish people who have converted to Islam have difficulty being accepted by other Irish people, some of whom taunt them with the 'terrorist' line."
Since the beheading of American journalist James Foley at the hands of Isis jihadists, some Muslim men in Ireland have experienced a heightened rise in the abuse. Two north African men who worship each day at the Dublin Mosque on the city's South Circular Road agreed to speak to Weekend Review on the condition of anonymity.
"Most people are good to me," one says. "But every single day I get called a terrorist by someone, usually someone in a car who pulls over as I walk down the street. It has got a lot worse this year because of Isis and it's particularly bad now that they are executing Western people.
"I am a man of peace and I abhor what Isis is doing, but some people are looking at these fundamentalists and thinking that all Muslims are like that. And nothing could be further from the truth."
His friend says he has been asked straight out if he agrees with Isis practice by members of the public.
"People have stopped me in the street and asked if I will condemn the murders. They are almost surprised when I say 'of course I do' - Isis are barbarians who do not represent all true Muslims and, what's more, it is mainly other Muslims who they are killing. What is very worrying though is the fact that this organisation seems to be able to reach out to disaffected Muslims in the West as we can all see on the news when we hear this guy 'Jihad John' speak."
Interpol believes up to 25 Irish jihadis may have joined the ranks of Isis at present, but one of Ireland's Muslim leaders, Dr Ali Selim, insists that "every effort" is being made to ensure that impressionable, disaffected young Irish Muslims are not seduced by the organisation's sophisticated propaganda.
"The actions of Isis are reprehensible and cannot be justified in any way. They have caused huge damage to how Muslims are perceived around the world and their use of the phrase 'Islamic State' is an outrage."
Dr Selim insists that the Muslims he meets every day are appalled by the actions and hope that non-Muslims can see that "the behaviour of these extremists bears no relation to the lives of Muslims here".
He says Irish people have been "very accepting" of the Muslim way of life which has been borne out in the international surveys that point to this country as one of the most tolerant in the world for being Muslim.
"Your country never invaded anywhere else and your people have emigrated for many years," he says.
"People here are welcoming because they themselves may have gone to make a living in another country or seen a loved one emigrate and know how challenging it can be.
"For those who are fearful, don't be: we come in peace."
This article should open the eyes of anybody in the Irish diaspora who continues to believe that Ireland remains the way it was in the “Quiet Man days”. The days when nearly every family in Ireland, especially in rural areas, went to Sunday Mass together are fast disappearing. Immigration to Ireland by people of other faiths and the growth of secularism have had a profound effect on Irish Catholicism in a country that was considered the most Catholic in Europe only a generation ago. Attendance at Sunday Mass is dismal at best, All Hallows Seminary which sent Irish priests all over the world is now closed and it was reported in the news just last week that it is being sold. Times are changing in Ireland and many who claim Irish heritage would be of the opinion that the changes are not for the better.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shed no tears for a man who spent years fuelling hatred

Thursday 18 September 2014
It was a simple, unceremonious and dignified end to a momentous and turbulent life. Paisley was one of the most divisive, complex and iconic political figures on this island.
The tributes were fulsome this week but for many, particularly people of my generation, for years he cast a dark, sinister and ominous shadow.
Paisley railed against most supposed 'evils' he saw in the modern world - sexual permissiveness, homosexuality and the Pope.
But he reserved his most vicious and hateful tirades for Catholics in the North. Time and time again this so-called man of God used his office as a church minister to denigrate and vilify Catholics.
Who could ever forget or forgive the shameful stunt he pulled in the European Parliament when he disrupted the speech of Pope John Paul II?
For almost all of his public life, until his late conversion, his implacable and unrelenting crusade fanned the flames of hatred and bigotry against Catholics.
I have no doubt whatsoever that his inflammatory and hate-filled rants incited murderous reprisals on innocent Catholics and nationalists by Loyalist paramilitaries.
Far from being the peace maker of the DUP, a role he played in latter days, for years he attempted to destroy every initiative to bring peace.
He destroyed the attempts of Prime Minister Terrence O'Neill to forge closer relations with the Republic, he helped bring down the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974, and he accused David Trimble of treason in the latter's attempt to end The Troubles.
Then, in 2007, he performed an extraordinary volte-face and became First Minister. It was the power he had no doubt dreamed of and lusted for all his political life.
Now that he had achieved the ultimate reward, he was prepared to sit with his lifelong enemies - becoming a 'chuckle brother' to the ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness.
It was an extraordinary odyssey for this fire and brimstone preacher. I can't help thinking that had Paisley achieved his political ambitions years earlier, many innocent lives would not have been lost.
Despite all the bouquets and accolades that have been showered on Paisley since his death, I for one will shed no tears on his passing.
May god have mercy on his soul and may he rest in peace.
Regardless of the misplaced words of kindness and friendship offered by the other half of the “chuckle brothers”, I am compelled to agree with the writer of this article. For several decades, Ian Paisley was an arrogant, belligerent, bellicose, anti Irish, anti Catholic loudmouth who never hesitated to spread his venom to anyone who was willing to listen. A couple of years of attempting to change his image do not begin to forgive his many years of fomenting ethnic and religious hatred. The mere fact of his death does not change the image that he worked so hard to project for all those years. He will not be missed by those who remember his very obnoxious past.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Northern Ireland Executive: A wasteland of mutual veto?

Terry Wright - Published - 27 August 2014
If people who endorsed the restoration of Stormont in 1998 were to vote again in 2014 would they vote the same way?
Recent election results indicating a large number of absentee and unregistered voters suggest that the turnout would be significantly reduced.
If this trend is not reversed then elected politicians will govern without a credible mandate.
They have only themselves to blame. No party is exempt for they choose to live in a world of denial and intentional amnesia.
We have seen high profile sporting events, Titanic, and the Game of Thrones. Jobs are beginning to trickle through but alongside this, millions of pounds have gone to waste as too many initiatives have stalled, only to be abandoned.
Unpleasantness and rage are the order of the day as fractious debate replaces co-operation and consensus on pivotal issues.
Ministers who administer overpayments that become underpayments cling on to office. In an age of austerity and fragile economic recovery it is simply wrong to pay huge amounts for over-indulgent expenses and hospitality.
Presently, we have Ministers driven by party interests verbally kicking each other on the shins over the present impasse on welfare and ensuing budgetary implications.
Both of the bigger parties have manufactured crises. Leaders of smaller parties speak of dysfunction but action to challenge this is required not words which state the obvious.
Courage and conviction come to mind for it is unacceptable that Stormont continuously meanders through the debris of democratic accountability.
As MLAs come to the end of the Summer-break and prepare to return to the Chamber and the committees, something is broken and in need of repair.
David Ford MLA Minister for Justice and leader of the Alliance party has spoken of the need for a reboot. He is not the only one who thinks this way. Perhaps the better term is transform in terms of the quality of leadership, the spirit of governance, relations and focus.
Re-modelling and review sit with these in terms of process and structure.
It is a debate that will not go away, as a political process agreed as a lifejacket for democracy becomes a straitjacket for progress.
Between them, the two main parties are creating a wasteland of mutual veto, sectarian trade-off and populist policies as they jointly move in tortuous fashion, towards a shared future but one defined only by their willingness to act out of self interest rather than for the common good.
It is producing mediocre politics and government.
For the smaller groupings to believe that they can work within this process is old thinking and a defence mechanism against having to risk the fresh and new.
Eventually, it manifests itself as self-deception. It becomes stifling and ultimately static and seeks solutions through operational but compensatory and tainted Ministerial portfolios that do not enjoy the same influence as those held by the DUP or Sinn Fein.
There is need for challenge, change, good sense and a new bolder way of thinking.
To embrace it the smaller parties will need to throw off their reticence in favour of courage and vision. They have to assume leadership for the bigger parties are interested only in pursuing party agendas grounded in a shameful past of tribal interests.
To embrace it they must move beyond any self-doubt or indecision that curtails their ability to operate as effective stewards of the process and the mandate to make Stormont work.
Delay and failing to act will serve only to undermine their capacity and ability to challenge and create. It is a catastrophic strategy that limits the expression and application of the fertile ground of talents and resources at all levels of their parties, not least that of the MLAs within the NI Assembly, many of whom work tirelessly at constituency level.
The electorate in Northern Ireland is tired of petty political bickering. It wants its representatives to address and shape for the better, issues that affect everyday life.
Some party spokespersons have hinted tentatively at Opposition. But too often this bears the hallmark of point scoring and a jealous and frustrated desire to hold the reins of power. This is merely to turn the bus around but continue to travel in the same direction.
Opposition is not about this. It is about robust and informed positive engagement, frankness and openness. It is about the positive experience of full participatory politics and in the Northern Ireland context, the extent to which this can be achieved within the Assembly.
It is about challenge and critique and will create a dynamic where there will be true accountability to the electorate. The bar of standards that the electorate expects from representatives will be raised.
Any MLAs who govern and who have been promoted beyond their abilities will be exposed for they cannot hide behind the cosy protection of those respective power blocs which exercise power and compromise over the other parties who play the minor and subservient role at the table of the Executive.
Voters who have become sceptical and disenchanted and who mistrust the political process in Northern Ireland will have found a voice and may be persuaded to return to the ballot box.
The parties will require trust in each other and the electorate.
The task is to build consensus but on the basis of shared values and the integrity of accountable and agreed solutions to crucial social, health, economic and educational issues and not the populism and spin which currently operates without opposition and serves to embed a system where one power bloc decides what is right and what is wrong.
Within Northern Ireland such a power bloc, operating without critique and meaningful scrutiny, disenfranchises those who differ and sacrifices the electorate to the sectarian nature of those who govern.
A guaranteed place in government coupled with the ability of the bigger party Ministers to take advantage of and trade on the desire of their main partner’s desire to sustain power and lack of effective scrutiny is flawed.
It shows a lack of courage to perceive what is right and fail to do it. To see what is wrong and fail to address it is to cling to false hope. The smaller parties need to look within to find an alternative way and a better way. It is an imperative on which they should not turn their backs. The present state of affairs is not what it was supposed to be. Review of the institutions is over-due. It should be root and branch.
A lasting peace entails a great deal more than merely the absence of violence. The Northern Ireland Executive, aka the Stormont Government is a study in incompetence. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the only thing that they seem to be good at is running up huge expense accounts for their globetrotting efforts to promote N.I. as an ideal place for international investors to setup operations. In the meantime, while they fiddle, Stormont burns. Time to roll up their sleeves and get down to governing and effectively conducting the people’s business as they were elected to do.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, August 21, 2014

British Muslims Joining Jihad in Large Numbers

The news that British Prime Minister David Cameron has cut short his vacation after the video of an alleged British subject beheading Irish American journalist, James Foley became public is certainly dramatic. Britain suddenly finds itself with an 'enemy within' – the almost 500 citizens who have left the UK to fight for a caliphate or an Islamic world order. The beheader of James Foley was clearly one of those, speaking in an obvious London accent. Experts say the British fighters are among the most extreme. Jihadi expert Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at London University, told the "Today" radio program, "Unfortunately the British participation in the conflicts now raging in both Syria and Iraq has been one of full participation, one that has seen them at the front lines, taking part in the conflict in every way. "So we have seen British fighters out there operating as suicide bombers; we have seen them operating as executioners.
"Unfortunately, they are amongst some of the most vicious and vociferous fighters who are out there. That is unfortunately just a part of their radicalization."
Guardian columnist Michael White says there is a perception that Muslim leaders like Catholic leaders at the time of the IRA campaign were not doing enough “As with the IRA during the Troubles there is usually a thread of ambiguity among some co-religionists, priests and mullahs, which the media prefer to focus on. ”The father of one of the known British fanatics, 20-year-old Nasser Muthana, said his son was lost to him. Ahmed Muthana said his son had wanted to be a doctor, but chose "to go with these wrong people.”  “I think, 'Am I going to see him alive again?' Maybe we won't even see the coffin – we'll just see on the news they're dead," he said.
Bizarre that, the contrast between a young man one day thinking of becoming a doctor, the next a Jihadi fanatic and then choosing the latter. .Another British terrorist – Abu Osama – told the BBC he utterly rejected his home country. He told the Guardian that Britain was "pure evil," and said he would only return "to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben."
Even young women have taken to Jihad. Manchester twin sisters Salma and Zahra Halane are said to have traveled to Syria in June. They were described as "deeply religious "Many Muslim leaders are doing their best to stem the tide. The Guardian reports that more than 100 imams have called on British Muslims not to travel to Syria and Iraq and have written an open letter urging local communities "to continue the generous and tireless effort to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq." but to do so "from the UK in a safe and responsible way."
Judging by the fanatic hearts of those who have already left it may be too late.
This article contains some very frightening information on the transformation or “radicalization” as they choose to call it of young British Muslims. The infiltration of Muslims into Ireland during and since the Celtic Tiger years would cause one to wonder and, indeed worry, if it will not be long before the same thing might develop there. Irish society has undergone some drastic changes in recent years, not the least of which is the burgeoning number of Muslims emigrating into the country. Could Ireland be the next breeding ground for young, radical Islamists?  I certainly hope not but it is definitely not out of the realm of possibility.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, August 18, 2014

No oath, no passport. It's quite simple. Or is it?

Those taking out Canadian citizenship are expected to swear an oath of allegiance to Britain's Queen Elizabeth

It's the age-old Irish story - a person leaves these shores, goes to a new country and falls in love with their new home. They respect the fact that this new country offered an opportunity that was obviously denied to them in the place of their birth and they want to pledge their allegiance to their new sanctuary by becoming a citizen.
Emer O'Toole is such a person. A self-described 'hairy feminist', she is an assistant professor of Irish performance studies at the School of Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University, which must be nice.
But as she pointed out in the pages of The Guardian (where else? I hear you cry) last week, she is unhappy about the prospect of taking Canadian citizenship because she objects to the part of which requires her to declare: "I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada . . . "
O'Toole has been living in Montreal for the last year and she graciously concedes that: "I'm impressed by the grassroots social movements. The arts scene mixes world-class talent with community feeling and flavour . . . "
But - and there's always a 'but' - she also argues that: "I want to be a citizen of Canada. But I don't want to swear an oath of allegiance to the queen. As a socialist, hereditary power is anathema to my conscience. As an Irish person I'm aware of the historical oppression of my people and culture by British imperialism."
I'm sure the average native of Montreal will be delighted that the artistic endeavours they offer are enough to impress Ms O'Toole. But it seems they are rather less than impressed with her attitude towards the oath.
The Toronto Sun carried an op-ed on the issue last week which provoked a veritable tsunami of outraged Canadians who are sick of the newly arrived who want to tailor the rules to suit their own political tastes. If you don't like it, was the general consensus, then go somewhere else.
O'Toole is not the first person to object to the idea. In fact, she's not even the first Irish person who wants to take Canadian citizenship, but only on their own terms.
Ontario Supreme Court recently ruled that requiring potential citizens to take the oath was not, as had been claimed, a 'violation of their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and religious freedom.'
That case was taken by a Rastafarian who believes the queen is 'the head of Babylon', an Israeli mathematician who says such loyalty is 'repulsive' to him and an 85-year-old Irish republican, Michael McAteer, who has lived in Canada for 50 years but thinks he's being victimised by being asked to doff his cap, if only symbolically, to Brenda and her brood.
All the objectors have one thing in common. They've been infected by a most virulent strain of 'rightitis'.
This is a chronic condition which results in the patient suffering from an endless obsession with, and an exhaustive knowledge of, their perceived rights and a complete ignorance of their responsibilities.
They have every right to refuse to swear an oath to the queen.
But they seem incapable of accepting that new citizens of any country have a responsibility to abide by the rules and expectations of their new home.
Whether it be the 85-year-old republican, the hairy feminist, the Rastafarian priestess or the Israeli maths dude, they are all united by their capacity for self-delusion. Because Canada is doing them a favour, not the other way around.
Another Canadian paper published a defence of the monarchy, which prompted O'Toole to huff that: "If you don't agree, you don't get in. I don't agree. I guess I don't get in."
Still, there's always America, Emer. Just head a few miles south and you won't have to compromise your oh-so-important feelings.
After all, as we see from our other border, we will let anyone in these days.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Legalizing undocumented immigrants should be our first immigration priority, and Americans support a full pathway to citizenship

More than half of all Americans in a CNN/ORC International poll argued that the first priority on immigration should be providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country, while only 41 percent believed that stopping unauthorized immigration should be the top priority. These results stand in sharp relief to similar polling done in 2011 and before, when a majority of Americans believed that stopping unauthorized immigration should come before allowing undocumented immigrants access to legal status. As CNN Polling Director Keating Holland argued, “The Republicans’ insistence that border security be the primary focus of U.S. immigration policy may have been a popular stand in 2011, but not necessarily in 2014.”
Overall, 8 out of 10 Americans believed that undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for years and are employed, speak English, and would pay back taxes should be allowed to become citizens, while nearly two-thirds of those polled stated that they would oppose a bill that only granted legal status but no way to achieve citizenship. Both of these results were more or less consistent regardless of whether the respondent was a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent. It is clear from the poll that the American public supports a full pathway to citizenship, not merely the granting of second-class legal status. This poll in no way implies that security at our borders does not also remain a seriousl problem that must be dealt with simultaneously.   
The Boston Irish Group has steadfastly and unwaveringly stood in support of the concept that the very first step toward meaningful and lasting U.S. immigration reform must be a permanent resolution of the plight of undocumented people currently living, working, and raising their families here in the U.S. Many came here fleeing oppression in their native countries. In some cases, the oppression was political, in others it was economic. We are convinced if they thought that the United States of America offered them, through hard work, the opportunity to make a good and decent life for themselves and their families, they should be given the opportunity to prove themselves. On this 238th birthday of the United States of America, let us pledge to continue our proud heritage as a nation who has always granted opportunity to people from other lands and has benefitted greatly from our generosity and our vision for the future. 
Also it should be noted that unlike other immigrant service providers, the Boston Irish Group which is comprised of American citizens, green card holders, and undocumented Irish nationals have never asked for or accepted a single penny for the services that they provide to the undocumented community that they serve. 
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus 
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Boston Irish raise $180,000 for Katie O’Halloran's bionic arms

Counihan @irishcentral April 29,2014 04:00 AM

The Boston Irish have done Katie O’Halloran proud and raised over $180,000 towards her campaign to purchase bionic arms.
Backed by Mayor Marty Walsh, the Irish American community in Boston have taken Katie’s 'Born to Run' campaign to their hearts.
The 22-year-old law graduate from Connemara is now almost two thirds of the way towards her target of $400,000 to purchase prosthetic arms.
Katie was born with Femur-Fibula-Ulna Syndrome, leaving her without arms and with a short, deformed right leg.
She has told how she wants to expand her independence with the help of Bebionic prosthetic arms and has been astounded by the public reaction to her campaign’s fund-raising efforts, both at home and in America.
Katie met with Mayor Walsh on the eve of the Boston Marathon when many runners raised sponsorship funds in her honor.
She was also the beneficiary of a major fund-raising night in Dorchester which took the total funds raised over the $180,000 mark.
Her campaign team posted on Facebook: “Thanks to everyone for your generosity and supported with our great fundraiser last night. Katie and her family are overwhelmed by the support they have received since they arrived in Boston.”
With family roots in Connemara, Mayor Walsh was delighted to support the recent benefit night in Freeport Hall, Dorchester, just around the corner from where he grew up.
Mayor Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “The Irish community always supports their own and my uncle, Peter, has been very involved in the community and they asked me to get involved and help out a little bit.
“I’m here to support Katie in all the efforts that are being done. This is very big and this is very big to Boston. It’s very important to the community and I want to be as supportive as I can be.”
Stunned by the reaction, O’Halloran told the Irish Examiner: "It’s surreal, unbelievable. I’m really surprised and glad that the Irish in Boston think my story is something they can get behind."
Runners led by Galway man Michael Cloherty have completed three marathons in three weeks on Katie’s behalf, in Connemara, London and Boston.
Cloherty explained to the paper: “I was doing it for a huge cause. If I was just doing it for myself there would have been days I wouldn’t have bothered. But it was for Katie. We grew up near each other, our families know each other – that took the difficulty out of it.”
The fund-raising embraced by the Irish American community in Boston will change Katie’s life forever.
She added: “It will transform my life really. To be able to do small tasks like shake a person’s hand, carry a handbag, open doors. I’m just really happy so many people have put in so much effort.
“These arms will give me more independence. I’m okay when I’m inside the house, I can do everything for myself, I write and do my make-up with my foot. I can bring myself to the bathroom, but when I’m out I’m stuck. I need someone to open doors for me, bring me to the bathroom, carry bags.
“Right now I can manage most things with my foot but as I get older my leg might not be as flexible.
“I’d like to be a normal 22-year-old. Now my social life is like that of an older person, everything has to be planned out in advance. These limbs would allow me to be spontaneous.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Faces of True Heroes

With heavy hearts, we join our firefighters in mourning the loss of their brothers, Lt. Eddie Walsh and Firefighter Mike Kennedy. The thoughts and prayers of the entire City of Boston are with the families of Eddie and Mike as well as with all of our firefighters and their families.

Be safe, be strong and know that the people of Boston are there for you, just as you prove day after day that you are there when we need you!

“Greater love hath no man than he who would lay down his life for his friends”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

IRA leader is charged in murder case on evidence from Boston College tapes

Patrick Counihan March 23,2014

A former IRA leader has been charged in connection with the murder of mother of 10 Jean McConville based on confessions he made during the Boston College tapes recording sessions.

The Boston College project begun in 2001 and was aimed at securing the recollections of key figures in The Troubles to the events of The Troubles.
Critics claim that witnesses were falsely told their testimonies would only be released after their deaths. Sinn Fein have claimed that the tapes were biased against their members and overseen by key researchers who were out to get Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

A Belfast court heard on Saturday that the police case against 77-year-old Ivor Bell is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at the US college.

The prosecution claimed the transcript actually indicated Bell had ‘played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville’.

McConville was abducted and killed in 1972 by the IRA amid allegations she was a police informer a charge her family has always denied.
Bell was refused bail and remanded in custody by a district judge in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

His lawyer alleged that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z ’, was his client.
Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

The project was headed by journalist Ed Moloney a fierce critic of Gerry Adams and researcher Anthony McIntyre who opposed the Sinn Fein peace strategy. Moloney also published a book “Voices from the Grave” which contained allegations by two of those interviewed who had died against living figures in SInn Fein.

The undertaking that no tapes would be released until the participants died was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to PSNI detectives.
Boston College and the two principals, Moloney and McIntyre have been sharply critical of each other since the tapes were seized by British authorities.

The interviews included claims about the 1972 murder of McConville, one of the so called Disappeared whose body was found on a County Louth beach years later.

She was abducted by the IRA at her home at Belfast, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Lawyer Peter Corrigan told district judge Amanda Henderson: “During those interviews Z explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville.”

The report adds that Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, pointing out that they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

He added:“The defence submits that the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville.”
Bell sat impassively in the dock wearing a grey jumper as his lawyer made the claims.

Some of Mrs McConville’s children watched on from the public gallery.
A PSNI detective inspector told the court that he can connect the accused with the charges but rejected Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.Police opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction as he had previously used an alias to travel to Spain and could use contacts within the IRA to travel beyond Northern Ireland.
Corrigan refuted that claim.

He said: “Are the prosecution seriously suggesting that a man in this serious ill health, who can’t walk up steps, is going to abscond for an offense where he has every incentive to attend court?”
Bell was remanded in custody to appear before court again next month.
After the hearing, Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s thoughts were with their mother.

He said: “The pain of losing her has not diminished over the decades since she was taken from us murdered and secretly buried.
“She is in our hearts and our thoughts always. Whatever the future holds nothing will ever change that.”
Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if he kept his mouth shut. Any “self styled hero” who would kidnap, torture, murder, and bury the mother of ten children in a grave known only to the perpetrators, deserves the severest punishment that he can be sentenced to. Assuming that the allegations of collusion against her were true, why wasn’t she given a lighter sentence such as being banished from Belfast. At least then, ten innocent children could have been brought up by their mother instead of in an orphanage. It appears to me that those who suffered the most from this act of sheer barbarism were ten innocent children who saw their mother taken violently from them never to be seen again.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America