By Ray O’Hanlon
Las Vegas resident Steve Smith, the man who hired but did not pay two Irish Walsh Visa recipients, has been released on bail pending sentencing in a case involving an attempt to kidnap a prostitute.
Smith, who was freed on $3,000 bail, was due for sentencing last week after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit coercion.
Sentencing is now scheduled to take place on Aug. 21, deputy district attorney Bernie Zadrowski said last week.
Meanwhile, the engaged Belfast couple who worked for Smith, James Murray and Ruth Gould, have left Los Vegas and are now working on Long Island.
The couple spent a week in a Las Vegas jail after Smith, who has a string of prior arrests and convictions in states other than Nevada, told authorities that the couple were planning terrorist acts. The charge was determined to be unfounded and both Murray and Gould were released without charge.
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Murray and Gould are now engaged in a legal suit again Logicon, the Northrop-Grumman subsidiary charged with securing employment for holders of Walsh Visas.
The Walsh Visas, which are of three years’ duration, are offered to eligible individuals from Northern Ireland the border areas of the Republic and are intended as an economic boost for the peace process.
Because they did not get paid by Smith, Murray and Gould are considered to be now out of status under the Walsh Visa rules, but an immigration court in Las Vegas recently granted the couple a four-month stay on deportation while they attempt to sort out their situation.
Times urges inquiry
The New York Times has backed an “open and independent” investigation into the 1989 murder of Belfast attorney Pat Finucane.
In an editorial headed “Full Justice for Ulster Killings,” the Times editorial followed the paper’s coverage of a recent two-part BBC “Panorama” documentary that pointed to police and British army collusion in the assassination.
It was the second time that the Times has called for an independent inquiry into Finucane’s death.
“Without an open and independent investigation of these killings, London will never allay suspicion or build Catholic trust in a new Northern Ireland police force,” the editorial stated.
“Last month Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed a Canadian judge, Peter Cory, to determine what approach is warranted for these murders. The BBC has made the decision for him,” the editorial concluded.
Gilman to decide
Rep. Ben Gilman, a co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, was poised this week to announce plans for his political future even as he faces an uphill court battle to hold on to his congressional district.
A U.S. court in Manhattan has accepted Gilman as a party in a case taken against a redistricting plan drawn up by legislators in Albany that would carve up his 20th congressional district, much of which is made up of heavily Irish Rockland County.
Gilman’s court challenge is generally viewed as being an uphill one. One possibility, if the challenge ultimately fails, is that Gilman will engage in a Republican primary in a revamped district.
There has also been speculation that Gilman, dean of the GOP’s New York congressional delegation, might contest the November election as a Democrat.
It is unclear how such a move would affect his co-chairmanship of the Ad Hoc Committee, which is currently chaired by two Democrats and two Republicans.
From Burlington to Belfast
The mayor of Burlington, Vermont, has sent his town’s greetings to the new Sinn FTin mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey.
In an official proclamation, Mayor Peter Clavelle described the recent election of Maskey as “a milestone” and a consolidation of the peace process.
The proclamation congratulated “the Honorable Alex Maskey on his elevation to Mayor of the City of Belfast” and extended “the best wishes of our citizens to the citizens of Belfast for continued progress towards a lasting peace.”
Flynn opposes police move
Former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn has cone out in opposition to a Justice Department proposal to allow local police forces track down illegal immigrants with a view to handing them over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Flynn, currently national president of the group Catholic Alliance, said that even though the U.S. was engaged in a war against terrorism, the nation “must not turn into a police state.”
Civil liberties and human rights for all must never be compromised and neither should relations between immigrants and the local police, Flynn said.
“This policy could lead to harassment of immigrants which the values and laws of our country oppose,” Flynn added.
In New York, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Michael Collins recently said that the police department was opposed to the idea of it working as an arm of the INS.
Under an executive order dating to the Koch administration, undocumented immigrants in the city can report crimes or fear of crime to the police without having to fear being turned over to the INS.