By Ray O’Hanlon
Two years after a row over the inclusion of RUC members on its roster, the Irish police boxing team is once again preparing to square up against the NYPD.
But it won’t be only New York’s Finest who will be taking it on the chin.
A "Special St. Patrick’s Day Boxing Event," set for Manhattan on March 2, will raise funds for a political action committee called Protect & Serve America.
The group, which describes itself as nonpartisan, contributes money to what it views as "tough-on-crime" members of Congress.
But the group’s website also features a list of congressional members dubbed "Enemies of Public Safety."
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All members of the House of Representatives and all Democrats, the "enemies" list includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, a co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs.
The group’s "tough-on-crime" list — mostly Republican but with a handful of Democrats — also features prominent Irish American legislators, including Rep. Peter King and Jim Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland.
Protect & Serve America’s publicity blurb for the eight-match boxing event states that the group "joins with New York’s ‘Tough-on-Crime’ U.S Representatives" in inviting people to attend the event.
Long Island’s King is named as a co-host for the event, as is Westchester County Rep. Sue Kelly. Kelly is described on the website as Protect & Serve’s House of Representatives liaison.
The tournament is slated for the Broadway Ballroom at the Manhattan Crowne Plaza hotel.
Protect & Serve America’s web page (www.psa-pac.org) explains that that group is a nonpartisan political action committee that "promotes a partnership between our law enforcement community, the supportive public and civic, community and business groups."
The page adds that the group is "dedicated to reelecting incumbents to Congress that have consistently voted in favor of ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation that makes, and keeps, America’s communities safe."
The website also outlines exactly what crime-related issues the group feels are its priorities. It states that Protect & Serve America was founded in order to guarantee that tough-on-crime members of Congress receive their due recognition and in order to hold liberal legislators "feet to the fire" in Washington, D.C.
The named "Enemies of Public Safety" were designated as such, according to the website, in view of their "consistent non-support for tough-on-crime legislation."
The website features a profile of Protect & Serve’s founder, former NYPD detective first grade John Fleming. Fleming is named as having served with the NYPD’s elite intelligence division before he retired and founded Protect & Serve America.
Fleming is featured in one photo on the website with former Reagan administration attorney General Ed Meese. Meese is named as being a member of Protect & Serve’s "Distinguished Board of Advisors."
The website lists two addresses for the group, one in Katonah, New York and the other in Washington D.C. Neither has a listed phone number.
As with police forces the world over, the Garda Síochana has distinct views on crime fighting and the political impetus necessary to spur anti-crime measures.
These views are not infrequently aired by the force’s elected membership representatives, but as with the NYPD, the Garda is an apolitical police force set up to aid the civil power is a variety of areas.
Mr. Fleming could not be contacted by presstime.