By Ray O’Hanlon
The groundbreaking for the planned Irish Hunger Memorial in Manhattan has been set for March 15.
The memorial is to be sited in Battery Park City, at the southern tip of the island and overlooking the harbor that was the first sight of the New World for countless Irish immigrants.
A year ago, New York Gov. George Pataki announced the plan to build the memorial. Three million dollars for the project is to be allocated by the Battery Park City Authority.
The Irish Hunger Memorial Committee, which is overseeing the project, wants to see a "contemplative space" devoted to raising public awareness about the Great Irish Famine and the resulting mass Irish migration to America during the period 1845-50.
According to the committee’s mission statement, the memorial is also intended to serve as a catalyst toward addressing world hunger and "will include historical text related to the potato blight, the English government’s actions toward the starving predominantly Catholic population and lack of famine relief, as well as Irish deliverance into New York City, American and the rest of the world."
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GOAL quake appeal
GOAL USA, the Irish aid agency, is appealing for donations to cover its emergency work in the wake of the recent earthquakes in both India and El Salvador.
A GOAL medical team was rushing to the devastated city of Bhuj in the western Indian state of Gujarat following the quake, which killed thousands and injured many thousands more.
GOAL has committed an initial sum of over $50,000 from its disaster-relief fund to the Indian mission. This follows the allocation of $150,000 to earthquake relief in El Salvador.
GOAL is appealing for donations to help with both disasters. GOAL USA is at 1330 Avenues of the Americas, 33rd floor, New York, NY 10019 or call GOAL’s U.S. representative, Raina Stuart, at (212) 698-9860.
Jersey Hibs happy
The State President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in New Jersey has expressed his relief over the fact that an allegation arising from a statewide police exam was only a rumor.
James MacFarland was not alone in expressing concern to the state’s Department of Personnel when word spread that a question on the exam referred to "another drunken Irish person on St. Patrick’s Day."
There was no such reference, although concern was separately expressed with regard to the apparent link between a drunk driver and St. Patrick’s Day in the question.
The Echo recently reported that DOP Commissioner Janice Mitchell Mintz wrote MacFarland to state that any reference to St. Patrick’s Day would be removed from questions in future exams.
In a letter thanking Mintz for her prompt response, MacFarland said that ethnic organizations such as the AOH were sensitive to reports of bias and it was the duty of the leadership to investigate.
"Rumors are numerous and difficult to trace," MacFarland acknowledged in his letter.
GOP’s Irish honors
The Irish Americans Republicans of New York are gathering to bestow honors upon themselves. They are planning their fourth annual awards ceremony on Feb. 8 at O’Neill’s of Third Avenue, Manhattan.
This year’s honorees are Timothy Carey, president of the Battery Park City Authority; Jeff Cleary, chairman emeritus of Irish American Republicans; Edward Kelly, chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority, and James McGuire, counsel to Gov. George Pataki.