Category: Archive

Chicago Irish welcome new Illinois governor

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Johnson, who is active with Chicago Irish Immigrant Support and the Irish American Heritage Center, is in a position to know. She was part of an Illinois delegation with then Lieutenant Governor Quinn that went to a bio-based conference at University College Cork last year.
“He’s very diligent, he’s very hard-working and he’s very well educated,” said Johnson, the president of Soysafe Products. “After the conference, he had a pint of Guinness with us, too. So, he’s a regular guy. He was wonderful in Ireland and he loved it.
“We’re very lucky to have him [as governor],” said Johnson, whose mother’s family has roots in County Monaghan. “He’s got a mess on his hands. But he’ll roll up his sleeves.”
Other leaders in the Irish community know little about Quinn, but are happy that the Rod Blagojevich era is over following his impeachment.
“Quinn is a bit of an outsider,” said the Rev. Michael Leonard, the County Clare priest who is chaplain to the Irish immigrant community. “But from what people are saying, he’s a decent individual. He has a very good reputation in consumer rights.
“Obviously, he takes over at a very difficult time for the economy,” he said. “But he will definitely do a better job than Blagojevich”.
“I don’t know anything about him, but it can could only be positive after the governor we just got rid of,” said County Galway native Billy Lawless, the owner of the Irish Oak and the Gage bars and a prominent advocate for undocumented immigrants.
“There was no cooperation whatsoever in Springfield between the state legislature and the governor’s office. It didn’t make sense,” Lawless said. “It was very bad over the last year.”
In contrast to the Chicago-based Blagojevich, Quinn, who is 60 and a divorced father of two sons, has said he will live in the governor’s mansion.

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