By Ray O’Hanlon
The temporary U.S. visa scheme aimed at economically disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland and the Republic will help create prosperity and tolerance, Rep. James Walsh said in Derry last week.
The congressman indicated that the program will be partly aimed at individuals working in Northern Ireland’s security infrastructure who find themselves out of work as security concerns diminish.
Walsh was revealing details of the Cultural and Training Act of 1998. The legislation will give birth later this year to the so-called Walsh Visas.
"Those who take advantage of the visas . . . will simply see a multi-cultural society that grows more tolerant with each generation and whose collective faith rests on a basic belief that the future will be better than the past," Walsh said.
The visa program entails 12,000 visas over the next three years, 4,000 each year, for successful applicants from economically disadvantaged areas of the North and six border-area counties of the Republic. Individual visas will be valid for three years.
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According to Walsh, in Ireland as part of a congressional Irish/American Interparliemantary Exchange delegation, the visa scheme is particularly aimed at three groups under 35 years of age: The structurally unemployed, young graduates and those who have worked in the security infrastructure.
Delta launches JFK service
Ireland-bound travelers departing the New York metropolitan area will have a choice of three airlines to choose from beginning this week.
Delta Airlines inaugurates its long anticipated daily non-stop Ireland service out of JFK Thursday evening from its Worldport terminal.
"The flight is full and we are really thrilled with the level of advance bookings," Delta spokeswoman Rhianna Quinn Roddy said.
The service, using a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, will fly non-stop to Dublin and Shannon four days a week, and to Shannon and Dublin three days a week.
Garvaghy N.Y. fund-raiser
The U.S.-based Friends of the Garvaghy Road will be holding a fundraiser for residents of the Portadown nationalist enclave on Sunday, July 18, at 4 p.m. at the Kinsale Tavern in Manhattan. The group was formed earlier this year to provide support and assistance to the residents. Details, (917)469-2619.
McDaid cheers on Special Olympians
Ireland’s tourism minister, Jim McDaid, was in North Carolina recently cheering on Irish competitors in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Raleigh/Durham. McDaid led the 77-strong Irish team in the opening ceremony and was a guest at a "Founder’s Ceremony" honoring Special Olympics patron Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Ireland will be hosting the next summer games in 2003, the first country outside the U.S. to do so.
Offers $300,000 bail
Bill Fuller, a wealthy former Irish club and ballroom owner, has offered to post $300,000 bail in a Las Vegas court for a woman accused, along with her boyfriend, of murdering a Vegas gambling figure.
Fuller told the court that he believed in the innocence of former topless dancer Sandra Murphy, who faces multiple charges, including murder and robbery, arising from the death of Ted Binion at his family’s Horseshoe casino.
Prosecutors charge that Murphy, along with her lover, Rick Tabish, forced Binion to consume a fatal overdose of drugs. Fuller told the court that he had been introduced to Murphy at a local restaurant and had been asked by the owner to help her.
Committee welcomes arrest
The New York-based Lawyers Committee For Human Rights has welcomed the recent arrest in Northern Ireland of former UDA member William Stobie in connection with the murder of attorney Pat Finucane.
"This is an important step, but the investigation needs to go much further. Those responsible for targeting and killing Finucane must still be apprehended and prosecuted," said Lawyers Committee spokesman Mike Posner.
"We also believe that this arrest makes the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry into the circumstances of Mr. Finucane’s killing all the more necessary,"