Category: Archive

Inside File Philadelphia follies

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The awards are over. Martin Sheen and Daniel Berrigan have departed town and in the day-to-day world of Philadelphia’s Irish immigrant community there is not only a rift, but, God save us from all harm, a split the likes of which Brendan Behan himself would fully appreciate.

New York has three Irish immigration advice centers, in Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan — and that’s no bad thing. So why shouldn’t Philadelphia have more than one? No bad thing either if the emergence of a second advice center was a result of simple demand and the need for expanded resources more widely spread around town. In this case, however, the roots of sudden fission clearly have at least something to do with clashes of style and personal frustrations as much as the need for one center on this side of town, a second on the other.

The split apparently goes well beyond the row over the awards to Sheen and Berrigan presented by the Irish Immigration Resource Center, a presentation that really had nothing directly to do with the Mumia Abu-Jamal case, an issue that nevertheless served as a catalyst for accumulating tensions to erupt into public view. And so we have Tom Conaghan, a primary inspiration behind the center’s founding, off on a new mission to start a new center to rival his old.

This new center will not be across town, however. It will be in the same Upper Darby neighborhood as the existing center. Indeed, it appears that it could be in the same building as the existing center. This is like the split in Sinn Féin all those years ago when each new SF distinguished itself from the other by its Dublin street address: Sinn Féin Parnell Square and Sinn Féin Gardiner Place. But at least there were a few streets between the rival Shinners. Now we’re facing the possibility of a resource center upstairs and a resource center downstairs with the ‘twain not meeting — and in the City of Brotherly Love. Somebody call George Mitchell, quick!

Asgard becalmed

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

The yacht Asgard moved a lot faster in the days that it was smuggling guns for Irish rebels. The noble boat, hauled out of mothballs recently with a view to restoration, has been beached and becalmed in the parking lot of the Point Theatre in Dublin while the various government and voluntary bodies responsible for its future sort out a number of sticky issues, not least of which is what exactly to do with the venerable tub.

One government department, the arts and heritage one headed by Sile de Valera, is of the view that the boat should be preserved and displayed in a museum because it is a national arch’ological artifact. The volunteers of the Asgard Restoration Project, a gathering of well-heeled yachters, together with the Department of Defense, which actually owns the boat, is more inclined to see it restored to its former glory and launched anew upon the choppy seas surrounding the auld sod.

The arts brigade over at de Valera’s office are worried that the Asgard might encounter a fate not dissimilar to the Titanic if it is launched once more. And so there the boat sits within a whiff of the River Liffey, but not upon its pea-green waters.

Art Mullen, the Las Vegas-based Dubliner who owns two parts of what he believes is the original, and who is inclined to sell them to a realistic bidder, might want to keep his, eh, sail, furled as this affair sorts itself out.

Mary’s mission

"IF" remembers Mary Raftery well from those paper chase days in college, back when the world was simpler and global warming could only be experienced in Ireland if you touched a boiling kettle. Raftery was a young woman of evident purpose back in those times, a serious-minded student who could clearly spot nonsense, both on campus and without. Not surprising then that in a subsequent career in journalism — during which she snagged a brace of journalistic awards in a land not especially noted for formal praise — Raftery would gather about herself a reputation for the kind of hard-hitting work that even the most complacent of the auld sod’s inhabitants could not ignore.

Raftery’s most effective reporting in recent years was the TV series on RTE entitled "States of Fear." It chronicled the sorry tale of those children who lost the innocence of childhood in Ireland’s industrial schools, institutions that in all too many instances became 20th century mirror images of what turned Charles Dickens to writing the likes of "Oliver Twist."

The book that has followed "State’s of Fear" is "Suffer the Little Children" and it will be having its U.S. launch in New York on June 7. There are a number of people living in the U.S. who spent hard childhood years in some of these schools, so it must be bitter sweet indeed to finally see the truth win out.

A Crowley dynasty?

That dynamic duo in Queens, Tom Manton and Joe Crowley, are on the march again. This time they are paving the way for Rep. Crowley’s cousin Elizabeth to get started on a political career in the New York City Council. Elizabeth, a youthful 23 years old but apparently determined to age a little faster in the political cockpit, is presenting herself as a Democratic candidate in the 30th Council District Race, which will be decided later in the year by a special election.

The 30th District covers areas such as Maspeth and Middle Village, neighborhoods where Irish immigrants who have tired of the pace of life in more bustling hoods such as Woodside and Sunnyside like to put down new roots, geraniums, tomatoes and what not. Either way, Irish voters in the district will have a choice on the big day.

The Republican hopeful in the race is Dennis Gallagher, former chief-of-staff to Councilman Thomas Ognibene, who is leaving the City Council due to the term limits rule.

They said

€ "This ban is in reality an un-American political stunt which ignores the constitutional free speech rights of Americans at the behest of the British, in order to prop up David Trimble for a British General election." Activist Martin Galvin responding to the U.S. State Department’s decision to ban the Real IRA and any associated groups.

€ "It’s ridiculous and it has to come to an end." Tom Gilligan, Ancient Order of Hibernians National President on the current row between the Hibernians and the organizers if the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese