So far it appears as if the election will have at least two candidates in it: current AOH National President Jack Meehan of Massachusetts, and Seamus Boyle from Philadelphia.
Boyle, president of Division 39 and an AOH member since 1972, is the order’s current National Vice President serving alongside Meehan.
A campaign fundraiser for Boyle took place last weekend in North Wildwood on the New Jersey Shore.
Boyle told the Echo that he was pleased with the event and anticipating others as his campaign develops.
Boyle said after his fundraiser that an election for the presidency was a “good thing” and a “healthy” means of advancing the Hibernians’ cause.
He was careful not to criticize National President Meehan, stressing that the two were friends and worked well together.
Boyle said he was unsure of Meehan’s precise plans at this point.
Meehan told the Echo that he was planning on running for a second two-year term when the Hibernians gather for their national convention in New Orleans next July.
“At the moment I am a candidate,” Meehan told the Echo Tuesday.
He too was careful to speak only kind words about his rival.
Both Boyle and Meehan acknowledged the possibility of additional candidates but said that they were not aware of any at this juncture.
“We’ll see that happens. We’ll do what’s best for the order,” said Meehan.
Meehan said the election was now anticipated because there were some members who “did not agree on certain things.”
“This is all in the very early stages, there’s a long way to go,” Meehan. said.
Meehan said that as best he could recall the last time there was a contest for the national presidency was in 1988. Mike Coogan emerged the winner that year.
Meehan’s most immediate predecessor, Ned McGinley, served a second term without first having to face a vote, as did his predecessor, the late Tom Gilligan.
McGinley did, however, have to face four rivals when he ran for the national vice presidency of the Hibernians in 1998. Meehan’s presidency meanwhile has been notable for his strong support for the Irish language and the Northern Ireland peace process.
Meehan was also supportive of efforts earlier this year to push comprehensive immigration reform through Congress.
“This issue is much too important to get bogged down in partisan wrangling which serves neither our nation nor the sizeable community of undocumented Irish who have lived too long in the shadow of America’s promise,” Meehan said back in May.
“I urge all Hibernians to contact their legislators urging their support as the bill moves through the legislative process,” he said at the time.