“Short Strand, a tiny Catholic area in East Belfast, is a long besieged community of about 3,000 Catholics surrounded by 90,000 Protestants,” the letter said. “We believe it is important for Unionist leaders, including First Minister David Trimble and DUP leader Rev. Ian Paisley, to do more to use their influence to stop Protestant violence.”
The letter was signed by the four co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, Reps. Ben Gilman, Richard Neal, Joe Crowley and Peter King. It was also signed by Rep. James Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress.
NYC COUNCIL VISITS IRELAND
New York City Council leaders were in Ireland last week to study political and economic conditions in the North and South. The delegation, including the speaker, Gifford Miller, was briefed on the status of the Good Friday accord.
The four-day trip was sponsored by the New York Friends of Ireland, a group that raises money for the Queens-based Emerald Isle Immigration Center and Project Children.
Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the EIIC, said it was hoped that the visit would help bring international pressure on both sides in the conflict to find a solution.
“The joint government established by the Good Friday peace accords is set to expire in January. It would be tragic were that to happen,” O’Dwyer said.
Council members in the delegation were Christine Quinn of Manhattan, Robert Jackson of Queens, Yvette Clark of Brooklyn, and Madeline Provenzano of the Bronx,
LINGUS BACK TO BALTIMORE
After mothballing the route in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Aer Lingus is poised to reopen its service out of Baltimore/Washington, D.C. in 2003.
However, the carrier has no immediate plans to relaunch its service out of Newark airport in New Jersey.
Aer Lingus has been operating a reduced number of flights over the Atlantic as a result of 9/11 and the foot-and-mouth-disease scare earlier in 2001.
The heavily reduced passenger capacity over the Atlantic has been seen as a sever drag on prospects for a revival in the struggling Irish tourist industry.
HUB MAYOR WINS AWARD
The Irish Immigration Center in Boston will award its ninth annual Solas Award to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The award is in recognition of Menino’s work on behalf of immigrants and refugees, the center said.
The award ceremony takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Boston Westin Hotel in Copley Square.
“Mayor Menino has long been a strong advocate for newcomers to the city,” said Lena Deevy, director of the center.
Solas is the Irish word for light, and the award was created to recognize people who demonstrate a commitment to improving the lives of individuals and communities throughout the world.
Last year’s recipient was President Clinton, who was honored as a peacemaker in Northern Ireland. Other recipients have included former Irish president Mary Robinson, Sen. Edward Kennedy and U.S. Reps. Brian Donnelly, Bruce Morrison and Joe Moakley, in addition to various other community leaders.
CHICAGO BENEFIT FOR INJURED COUPLE
The Chicago Irish community is rallying around two young Irish immigrants who suffered serious injuries in a car accident over the summer.
Eimear Kelly, who is from Monagea, Co. Limerick, and Terrence McKay, from Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo, were both struck by a motorcycle.
Kelly had a leg amputated and McKay is undergoing reconstructive surgery to his injured leg.
A committee has been formed and a fundraiser planned to help defray medical costs. The fundraiser is being held on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. Tickets can be obtained by calling Kevin Dolan at (773) 286-8744 and donations can be sent to the Kelly/McKay Benefit, C/O LaSalle Bank, 5466 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60630.
TARA CIRCLE GETS GRANT
Tara Circle has been awarded a $250,000 historic preservation grant by the state of New York. The money will be used for restoration of Tara’s headquarters, Alder Manor in Yonkers. The grant was announced by Gov. George Pataki.
Alder Manor, built in 1912 by one of America’s wealthiest moguls, William Boyce Thompson, is on the national, state and local register of historic places.
The grant will be used to repair the building’s slate roof and restore its facade. The grant must be matched from other sources within a year and will make possible $500,000 worth of work.
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PEC WINDING DOWN
The American Irish Political Education Committee has told its members that it will be winding up its affairs by year’s end.
The move was not unexpected as the PEC, founded 27 years ago by its current national president, John Finucane, had indicated an intention to merge operations with the larger Irish American Unity Conference.
During its 27 years of operation, the PEC has been at the center of a number of issues and campaigns, including the MacBride Principles, the battle to secure a U.S. visa for Gerry Adams, and the effort to persuade Boston College not to honor Margaret Thatcher.
“We highly recommend that you join the Irish American Unity Conference. The IAUC is a reputable organization that shares our ideals, objectives and activists message,” Finucane said in a statement carried in the PEC’s newsletter.
SPECIAL VISAS SOUGHT
Attorneys for Belfast couple James Murray and Ruth Gould have filed for a special visa that would allow them to avoid having to leave the U.S.
The couple, who are engaged, spent a week in a Las Vegas jail earlier this year after being falsely accused by their employer of plotting acts of terrorism.
They working in the U.S. under the Walsh Visa program but are no longer covered by the program.
A motion on their behalf seeking “U” visas has now been filed in court. A “U” visa is provided to anyone who is a victim of a crime and a potential witness.
A decision on the application is expected before the end of October.
MCALLISTER APPEAL FILED
An appeal against deportation has been filed on behalf of Belfast native Malachy McAllister.
The appeal was filed with the Virginia-based Board of Immigration appeals.
McAllister, his wife and four children, who all live in New Jersey, have been battling government efforts to deport the former INLA member.
A court previously granted asylum to Bernadette McAllister and the couple’s four grown children but ordered McAllister, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army, himself to be deported.
A decision is expected from the board within 90 days.