Category: Archive

Calls for action after Mayo man’s death

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Immigration activist Ciaran Staunton, who is vice chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said that serious consideration should be given to allocating ten percent of the money being sent back to Ireland to a fund that would help older immigrants in the U.S.
Staunton told the Echo that he had already proposed the idea in a phone conversation with Irish foreign minister Miche_l Martin.
The body of a 72-year-old Mayo native, Anthony Gallagher, has found in his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens.
It is thought that he may have been dead for up to a week following as heart attack. Police had to kick down the door to gain entry once they had been made aware of concerns over Mr. Gallagher’s welfare.
Mr. Gallagher’s wife, Josephine, is in a home suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past ten years.
His brother, Eddie, who lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and is in a wheelchair after a hip operation, first raised the alarm after not hearing from Mr. Gallagher. A funeral in Holyoke is being planned.
Mr. Gallagher had lived in Alaska for a number of years and in New York was a member of Carpenters Union Local 608.
“None of our elderly immigrants should be ignored like this,” said Staunton.
“Tony’s death has been a wake-up call for our community. We should remember that charity begins at home.
“We’ve been sending money back to Ireland for years to help people at home and forgetting that Irish people here also need help,” he said.
Staunton expressed the views of many when he spoke at a Mass for Gallagher he helped organize at the Irish Center in Long Island City last week.
“We need to do something within our community to make sure there are no more deaths like this. If we had kept back just 10 percent of the money going to Ireland over the past 10 years we could have funded our own outreach group to maintain contact with our vulnerable Irish elderly here in the U.S,” Staunton told mourners.
The Mass was offered by Fr. Colm Campbell who runs the center which has in recent years become a popular meeting place for seniors in Queens and beyond.
Campbell said he had been especially upset about Gallagher’s death and the particular circumstances of his passing.
“There is a big gap between the people who came here in the fifties and sixties and in the eighties. The older people are on their own, their families are gone, some are widowed and even worse, in some cases, they are living in buildings where they are the only English speakers left, and they can’t afford to move because of rent control,”
he said.
“We really have to do something about this situation, I’m very upset about it. This would never happen in Ireland because people know each other and know where they live,” said Campbell who is himself now 70 and lives alone.
“On a personal level, this has hit home for me. I’m not able to get out and about as much,” he said.
“We need to be concerned about each other, especially the older immigrants. We should get a survey done to find out where the elderly Irish are. We are scattered everywhere,” said Fr. Campbell.

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