By Ray O’Hanlon
The National Assembly of Irish American Republicans honored three of their own last week during the group’s Fifth Annual awards presentation in Manhattan.
This year’s honorees were GOP representative John Sweeney from upstate New York; Joseph Seymour, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Grant Lally, the chairman of the Irish for Bush/Cheney lobby group. Lally is also executive director of the National Assembly.
The awards were presented in a ceremony at the studios of Adrian Flannelly Promotions in Midtown Manhattan.
The three award winners were congratulated in a letter to the NAIAR from President Bush.
‘Mychal’ joins ‘Moira’
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The waterways around New York City are now being graced by the names of two Irish American heroes of Sept. 11.
The New York Waterways ferry “Moira Smith,” named after NYPD officer Moira Smith, the only female officer killed in the WTC attack, has been dedicated to Smith and her 22 fellow officers who died on 9/11. The boat bears the symbol of a Claddagh ring on its hull.
A few days later, the Father Mychal Judge, named after the Franciscan priest and FDNY chaplain who was killed while giving last rites at the World Trade Center, was also named and put into service.
The Fr. Mychal ferry is also dedicated to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.
The launch was attended by Fr. Mychal’s sisters Dympna and Erin, as well as New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.
Fr. Judge, could, in theory, have a second ferry named after him. Mychal was the name he chose when ordained a Franciscan. His parents actually named him Robert Emmet Judge.
Cattle raid of . . . Kabul?
Concern is rising for the safety of Irish aid workers in northern Afghanistan this week, but at least one serious incident was put down to an issue not unfamiliar to people back in Ireland.
A rocket last week struck a warehouse near Mazar-e-Sharif run by the Irish agency GOAl. An Afghan aid worker was killed in the explosion.
GOAL founder John O’Shea told the Echo that it appeared the rocket was fired after an argument developed between two men over some cattle.
He said that the incident merely underlined the dangers aid workers currently face in Afghanistan. GOAL was allowing its Irish workers access to only certain areas at this time, he said.
O’Shea, meanwhile, will be in New York this week for the annual GOAL fund-raising ball. The agency, which bases its fund-raising on the support of leading sports personalities on both sides of the Atlantic, is marking its 25th anniversary this year.
Hear one, hear all
The New Jersey-based Lawyers Alliance for Justice in Ireland has urged the House of Representatives International Relations Committee to broaden the basis of any upcoming hearings into the three Irishmen detained in Colombia.
“The issue of terrorism originating in Colombia is broader than the criminal activities of FARC,” said Ed Lynch of the alliance in a letter to committee chairman Rep. Henry Hyde and Rep. Tom Lantos, the committee’s ranking Democrat.
“One of the individuals detained in Colombia has, or had, some affiliation with Sinn FTin,” Lynch said of a Niall Connolly.
“Certainly the committee is entitled to investigate that relationship and determine whether there is any credible evidence that this particular individual was in any way promoting terrorism.
Lynch said that under no circumstances should the conduct of one individual form a basis for a blanket condemnation of Sinn FTin.
The three Irishmen — Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley — face a likely trial stemming from charges of aiding the leftist FARC guerrillas.
IAUC demands probes
The Irish American Unity Conference is backing the call by families of the victims of the Omagh bombing for an independent inquiry.
In a statement, the IAUC said it was mindful of “persistent allegations of collusion by the British government in many incidents over the years.”
The IAUC said that these included the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, the killings on Bloody Sunday in Derry, and the murders of attorneys Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.
Independent inquiries were needed in all these cases in addition to Omagh, according to the IAUC.
Mass for Sr. Sarah
A memorial Mass for Sister Sarah Clarke, who spent many years tending to the spiritual needs of Irish Republican prisoners in British jails, is being held in Manhattan on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m.
The Mass is set for Leo House, 332 West 23rd St., between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. For details, call (212) 387-0911.