By Ray O’Hanlon
The Ancient Order of Hibernians has a full schedule of work to do, according to the order’s newly elected national president, Ned McGinley.
“The new national board has a number of priorities,” McGinley said fresh from his elevation to the top job at the recent Hibernian national convention in Connecticut.
“I’ll be going to Ireland next month to meet with Hibernians there. I will also be going on a fact-finding trip to the North,” McGinley said.
McGinley said that the AOH would work hard to keep the Bush administration on top of the situation in North Ireland.
“We realize that at the moment, with the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan, we may not be first in line, but we do wish to be on the table,” McGinley stated.
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He said that Hibernians are pleased with the work being carried out by Dr. Richard Haass, the administration’s point man on the North.
McGinley said he is especially pleased with the recent press interview given by Haass in which he urged David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party leadership to be more active in promoting the Good Friday agreement among constituents.
McGinley, a Pennsylvania native with Donegal roots, said that he will be examining closely the order’s various charitable programs, including the Great Hunger Project and Project St. Patrick, which provides financial support to seminarians.
Additionally, he said, attention will be paid to the task of expanding membership of the AOH.
“Our membership is steadily growing,” he said. “It’s up 10 percent from four years ago and we’re expanding into new states, such as Kansas and West Virginia,” McGinley said.
The membership will, however, remain all male for the foreseeable future.
A resolution at the recent convention aimed at opening the order’s membership rolls to women never made it to the floor for a vote.
“Resolutions have to be submitted at least 60 days before the national convention and this one missed the deadline,” McGinley said.
But that didn’t stop members at the convention from discussing the idea.
As the situation currently stands, women Hibernians are members of their own, separate, Ladies AOH organization.
According to McGinley, the sentiment mostly expressed to him by members of the LAOH was a desire to keep the men and women in separate camps with each group taking on charitable projects that were of particular concern and interest to each.