By Patrick Markey
It could have been an invasion — the sight of six British helicopters bearing down on "Mr Hockey’s" island.
Make that Mr Haughey’s island. And it was not a military assault, but the six helicopters had breached an air-exclusion zone to land on Innisvickillane.
But Charlie Haughey, the former Irish leader embroiled in a financial scandal, wasn’t at home. That didn’t stop some of the group from calling him Mr Hockey.
The Examiner reports that the helicopters arrived unexpectedly from the Uxbridge area, in Middlesex. They were visiting on an island hop and had decided to go to the spectacular Blaskets, off West Kerry, to see the most westerly point in Europe.
Before taking off from Kerry Airport, they were warned to keep well away from a Haughey’s Innisvickillane because it is private property with a ban on aircraft flying over it below a certain height.
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But the British choppers landed for a picnic and their presence was soon reported to Haughey’s officials. The embarrassed group explained to the gardaí it was all a mistake as they had actually landed on the wrong island.
"We then went to one of the southern islands only to find that we shouldn’t have been there. It was a genuine mistake and we hope we didn’t inconvenience anybody," said one of the pilots.
Gardai have accused a 14-year-old girl of assaulting a bus passenger even though she had only just been allowed out on bail after being charged with robbing a young German tourist.
The teenage terror is now in custody after gardai objected to her getting bail when she appeared in court for a second time in three days.
The Irish Independent reports that the girl was charged with robbery after an incident on Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier and with assault and possession of an offensive weapon in relation to an incident on the bus.
The teen from South Dublin was arrested in the first incident and charged with robbery. She was released on bail to appear in court next month. But the next day she nabbed again after gardai were called to a disturbance on a bus at Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire.
Gardai said she had been involved in a row with a 16-year-old girl.
She was charged with assault and possession of an offensive weapon and remanded to a youth correction center.
How many millions?
The Irish Diaspora in America, currently estimated at 44 million people, will probably double at the end of the next U.S. census because of the growing desire to claim Irish descent, according to an American diplomat based in Ireland.
The Mayo News reports that Earle Scarlett, deputy chief of mission with the American Embassy in Dublin, said the Irish-American relationship was unprecedented and not copied in any other bilateral relationship.
"Nobody can refute that U.S.-Irish interplay is unique and mutually reinforcing and it is all thanks to the sincere dialogue and cooperation between government states. This is epitomized by the Clinton administration and previous and current governments," he said.
Sean Rowland, executive director of Irish Studies at Boston College, agrees. But he cautioned Irish people not to take this relationship for granted.
Rowland added that a large number of American colleges are currently adding Irish studies to their curricula as the interest in Irish affairs, specifically North-South relations in Ireland, was at a peak.
"It is extremely important that Irish people appreciate their privileged position in America and that the present generation ensures that this excellent relationship continues for the next generation," he said.