The bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, will allow for about 250 Walsh Visas to be issued for fiscal year 2003, which starts Oct. 1.
The bill must now go to President Bush for his signature. Presidential approval is expected.
The Walsh Visas, contained in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program and named after New York Rep. Jim Walsh, have been issued since 1998.
People aged 18-35 living in economically disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic are eligible.
“The timing couldn’t be better,” Walsh said of the Senate’s approval. “The program administrator, officials from the State Department and government officials from Ireland and Northern Ireland are meeting in Belfast for the intergovernmental review.”
HIBS HONOR AD HOC REPS
The Ancient Order of Hibernians this week threw out the green carpet for members of Congress who are active on Irish issues. The AOH National Board and the District of Columbia State board hosted a reception in the Rayburn House Building on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening for the 89 members of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs.
The reception was to mark the committee’s 25th anniversary.
The reception was attended by AOH National President Ned McGinley, the new Irish ambassador to Washington, Noel Fahy, and members of the Ad Hoc Committee, including co-chairs Ben Gilman, Joe Crowley, Peter King and Richard Neal.
“The Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs is the preeminent congressional caucus dedicated to fostering a closer relationship between the people of Ireland and the United States Congress,” the AOH said in a statement.
NORTHROP HAS DAYS TO RESPOND
The Northrop Grumman corporation have until Oct. 1 to respond to a $101 million lawsuit filed in a New York federal court on behalf of engaged Belfast couple James Murray and Ruth Gould
The suit arises from false accusations of terrorist links leveled at the couple, charges that resulted in both Murray and Gould being jailed for a week in Las Vegas earlier this year.
The suit names as defendants Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Inc. and its immediate parent company, Logicon Inc.
The suit, on behalf of the couple, who are in the U.S. as a result of the Walsh visa program, accuses Northrop/Logicon, collectively Northrop, of negligence, causing personal injuries and breach of contract.
Northrop/Logicon acts on behalf of the U.S. State Department in placing Walsh Visa holders in jobs around the U.S.
According to court papers filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, Murray and Gould were “arrested, jailed and traumatized after being subjected to wildly false suggestions made to the United States government that, inter alia, they might be involved in hatching a Middle East-inspired terrorist plot against the United States.”
The suit also names Murray and Gould’s employer in Las Vegas, Steve Smith, who was recently sentenced to a year after being found guilty of an abduction charge.
It alleges that in preparation for its false report to the government, Northrop had invited Smith, described in the suit as a “serial felon,” to put in writing several “malicious, retaliatory and inane statements that he had made to Northrop concerning Murray and Gould.”
Following the filing in court, Northrop was served with the suit by attorneys for Murray and Gould, Eamonn Dornan and Russell Smith. A 30-day response period will expire next Tuesday.
A call to Northrop’s attorney in the case had not been returned by presstime.
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.
“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 current issue of the PEC’s monthly newsletter.