Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Taoiseach dampens hopes of US visa deal for Irish illegals

Kenny in Washington: Contentious US immigration reform ‘somewhat intractable’
Irish Times - 18 March 2015
Taoiseach Enda Kenny used his annual St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington to press for help for illegal Irish immigrants but said there was “an issue” around lifting long-term travel bans stopping “undocumented” people travelling back and forth to Ireland.
Speaking at the annual St Patrick’s Day breakfast for Mr Kenny hosted by vice-president Joe Biden, the Taoiseach said the issue of immigration reform “may well be somewhat intractable”.
Later, after meeting US president Barack Obama at the Oval Office, Mr Kenny described as “a disappointment” the legal stalling of Mr Obama’s executive action designed to bypass the Republican-led Congress and aiming to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
The measures were expected to assist illegal Irish unable to return home for family occasions such as weddings and funerals and emergencies without being blocked on their return to the US.
In the Oval Office, Mr Kenny said that he discussed with Mr Obama the possibility of visa waivers that would allow illegal immigrants to return to Ireland without facing three- or 10-year travel bans for illegally overstaying old visas on their return to the US.
Legal route
He also raised the prospects of the new E3 visa which would give new emigrants a fresh legal route to live and work in the US.
Mr Kenny said that “our real problem” was securing permission for illegals to travel back and forth to Ireland in the absence of a wider agreement.
“And also there’s an issue about [the] waiver scheme and the way it applies,” he added.
Mr Obama said he and Mr Kenny shared the view that one of the great strengths of the United States has been “its willingness to welcome new immigrants to our shores”.
Praising the strong ties between the two countries, he said: “Nobody has contributed more to the growth and dynamism of the US economy than our Irish immigrants. That continues to be the case.”
The US president, wearing a green tie, described the St Patrick’s Day “annual affair” as “always one of my favourites”.
“It allows me to trot out my Irish heritage and brings back incredibly fond memories of my visits to Ireland,” he said.
Speaking at his breakfast, Mr Biden said “genius” was required “on all sides to lock down” the Stormont House Agreement and resolve the ongoing impasse between Northern Irish parties over welfare reform.
Asked after meeting Mr Obama what the president had said about Northern Ireland, Mr Kenny replied: “He expressed his understanding that there’s a bit of an obstacle here, but I explained to him that I expect this can be dealt with.
“It’s a case now for the executive politicians in Northern Ireland and the leadership to sit down now and sort out whatever little obstacles are there.”
The Taoiseach was speaking ahead of the traditional shamrock-giving ceremony at the White House.
Greeting Mr Kenny at his residence in the morning, Mr Biden, who is well known for his gaffes, told reporters gathered for the arrival of Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala: “Anyone wearing orange is not welcome in here . . . only joking.”
It appears that we are back to “square one” with regard to immigration reform not only for the Irish, but for all undocumented persons.  Also, the proposed Irish E-3 temporary work permits appear to be “dead in the water”. There will be no waivers to allow undocumented Irish nationals to travel outside the U.S. until a wider agreement is reached.  Where we go from here is anybody’s guess, but the information in this article is less than encouraging, to say the least, for any new developments to take place in the foreseeable future.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kenny is ‘not in a position’ to dictate to US on immigration reform

Taoiseach to raise issue of undocumented Irish in St Patrick’s Day meeting with Obama

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will raise the issue of the undocumented Irish when he meets US president Barack Obama at the White House on St Patrick’s Day but will not adopt an “aggressive stance” with the American administration.

New York-based publisher Niall O’Dowd recently called for pressure to be put on the US Government, adding that it did not respond to politicians “being nice”.

However, Mr. Kenny said his Government would negotiate but was not in a position to dictate to the American administration on the issue of immigration reform.
“I don’t agree that arriving up on Capital Buildings and being very aggressive is going to yield any more beneficial results,” Mr Kenny said on Monday.
“And I understand that Niall O’Dowd has a long experience of dealing with this, but politicians have to negotiate with each other.”

Mr Kenny said the most important thing for undocumented Irish was to ensure they could travel to Ireland and back to the US while a “path to legitimacy or legalisation” was being formulated.

Pointing to the balance of power in the US, Mr Kenny said: “There’s a new administration obviously here in the States now with the Republicans in charge in the Senate and in the House, as it were.”

He said it was a matter for the American administration to decide what it wanted to do. Mr Obama’s executive action on immigration announced last November had been strongly supported by the Government.

It would bring “limited benefit to different sectors”, Mr Kenny added.
“So the administration now needs to sit down and decide how best it sees that it should do this and that’s why we negotiate with them from our perspective as to what we want.”

Mr Kenny expressed sympathy with the plight of undocumented Irish in the US.
“The reason that they’re undocumented is that many of them might have overstayed their welcome on ordinary visas or whatever, but it’s the human consequences of that that interest me,” he said.
“And you know the stories of people who have died at home and those who are here can’t go back.”

Mr Kenny said those stories would form part of the case the Government would make to the US administration in the hope that a process to help so-called illegals could be secured.
“I don’t agree that having a more aggressive stance would bring results any faster. We’re not in a position to dictate to the American administration what to do here,” he said,
“We are in a position to negotiate with them in respect of the 50,000 that we know are undocumented here in the States from Ireland.”

Mr Kenny praised the new US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley who said had a good understanding of the issues involved.
“The really important thing from an Irish point of view is that once a process is put in place that our people would have the opportunity to be able to travel over and back while that path to legitimacy or legalization is actually achieved.
“That’s the really important issue for us.”


Niall O’Dowd is absolutely wrong in suggesting that the Irish Taoiseach should take a militant stance with the American government regarding a possible resolution to the plight of the undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the U.S. The fact is that Mr. Kenny represents a very minute portion of the total number of undocumented persons in this country. Although we, as Americans of Irish heritage have strong feelings of sympathy for Irish immigrants, the decision makers do not necessarily share those feelings. Most of them consider a person’s immigration status to be far more important than his/her country of origin. They hear Americans of many  ethnic backgrounds advocating for immigrants from their countries of origin and in the end it becomes a case of “an immigrant is an immigrant”. So, when Mr. Kenny is trying to get special consideration for Irish immigrants, he would be well advised to think in terms of “a pat on the back goes much further than a kick in the shins”.

Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Boston Irish Group

Monday, March 16, 2015

Parade clash of wills forecast for Southie Some Catholics boycott over gay marchers

 Owen Boss, Jordan Graham - Sunday, March 15, 2015
A massive showdown is brewing for today’s South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with defiant conservative Catholic groups lining up on one side and gay rights advocates and members of the state’s political establishment on the other.
Two Catholic organizations that planned to march in the parade, Harvard’s Immaculate Heart of Mary School and the state council of the Knights of Columbus, have announced that they will not be participating in the wake of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s groundbreaking decision to include two gay pride groups in this year’s parade.
“We don’t believe that any Catholic organization should be part of a parade that is promoting a homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage and that is their agenda,” Immaculate Heart of Mary School principal Brother Thomas Dalton told the Herald. “They want to get people used to that and acceptant of that ... and they’re trying to get the cloak of the Catholic Church to cover them and the Church just isn’t going to do that.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle is urging other Catholic groups to boycott today as well.
“St. Patrick was not a figure of mythology. He was a Catholic bishop and is a Catholic saint, and he was not a proponent of gay rights,” Doyle said, slamming the inclusion of OUTVETS — a group of openly gay veterans — and gay pride organization Boston Pride in this year’s 114th annual parade for the first time. “Call it the Evacuation Day Parade. Call it the South Boston Irish Pride Festival. Call it whatever you want — but don’t debase the name of St. Patrick by associating it with the tawdry circus that will take place on Broadway tomorrow.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who made headlines last year when he refused to march in the parade because organizers wouldn’t allow gay marchers, touted this year’s “inclusive parade” — and shrugged off the boycotters.
“If they don’t want to march, they don’t have to march, the parade is going to go on,” Walsh said. “I’m very happy about the fact that it’s an inclusive parade. It’s been a battle for 20-plus years for the gay community to march in the parade. ... It’s 2015, it should be a positive message.”
The parade was the subject of a Supreme Court case that decades ago gave the council the right to exclude marchers who displayed gay rights banners. This year is the first they will be included.
“This year the message is inclusivity, and that’s been great to see,” Maura Healey — the state’s first openly gay attorney general — said yesterday. “I do hope that people embrace this as a real sign of progress, a sign of inclusivity, a sign of we’re all equal in this, and that’s what this really is about.”
“I’m honored and thrilled to be able to march in the parade,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “I think the organizers made some changes that made it more inclusive, and we made our decision to march and we’re looking forward to marching.”
Noting that they “deeply regret that some have decided to use this occasion to further the narrow objectives of special interests,” the Knights of Columbus announced Friday they were backing out of the parade.
Yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, after celebrating Mass, Father Kevin O’Leary told the Herald the church will observe St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, and noted the archdiocese isn’t affiliated with the parade.
The die is cast and the genie is out of the bottle. Shamefully, decades of effort to prevent groups who seek to promote their sexual preferences rather than their Irish heritage from participation in parades intended to honor St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and the cities of Boston and New York have come to an end. Despite favorable decisions in several courts including the U.S. Supreme Court, relentless, militant, alternative lifestyle groups and self serving politicians who pander to them because of their proactive attitude toward politics and their strong voting record have come out (excuse the pun) on top. They have gotten their foot in the door and, rest assured, they will return in succeeding years in ever increasing numbers. Sadly, many of the offending politicians claim to be Catholic and should be aware that the homosexual lifestyle is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Maybe it is time to remove all references to St. Patrick from these parades and convert them to secular events with no association to religion or religious figures.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sinn Fein votes to support abortion in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality (FFA)

Irish Independent – 7 March 2015
Sinn Fein delegates have voted to allow termination in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality (FFA) at the party’s Ard Fheis in Derry.
The motion, backed by the party's leadership and central council, was endorsed by a comfortable majority of delegates. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald voted for motion 122 from the stage of the auditorium.
The adoption of the motion meant that another motion, seeking the blanket right to abortion wherever a woman seeks one, automatically fell. A similar motion asking Sinn Féin to maintain the status quo - where abortion is allowed only when the mother's life is at risk - also lapsed.
However delegates adopted a separate motion calling for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, which equates the lives of the mother and unborn child and which restricts the circumstances under which abortion is permissible.
Mary Lou McDonald said that allowing women and couples, whose unborn children suffered from fatal fetal abnormality, was the "republican" thing to do. “For me, the decent thing, the right thing, the republican thing to do is to support the motion 122 and afford those women, their partners and their families the dignity and small measure of comfort that choice represents for them,” she said.
She added those women and couples should be shown compassion and care, "but above all, choice".
The discussion on abortion was among the most widely-debated issue at the two-day conference in Derry's Millennium Forum.
One delegate from Cork said unborn children suffering from fatal fetal abnormalities deserved to be allowed to live for as long as their conditions allowed.
Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín, who was disciplined for failing to vote with his party in favor of proposed X case legislation in 2012, indicated earlier in the day that he would not be voting in favor of the motion.
After the motion was carried, the party's health spokesman Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said; “I welcome the passing of this motion. It provides certainty and clarity in terms of Sinn Féin's position.
“The motion recognizes the gravity and complexity of fatal fetal abnormality which requires great compassion.
“It also highlights the difficulties women face who are forced to travel abroad to access services because the law prevents women with fatal fetal pregnancies to access legal abortion in Ireland, both North and South."
The passage of this resolution by the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis removes any confusion or doubt that people may have had about the party’s official position on the issue of abortion. They are a pro-abortion party and anybody who acts on behalf of the party is required to abide by the their official position. They will argue that it only applies in certain cases, but they have,in fact, taken the first step down the slippery slope to “abortion on demand”. This is a sad day, indeed, for Catholic Irish republicans.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree