By Ray O’Hanlon
Irish American Democrats, the fund-raising group that spearheaded Irish American support for Vice President Al Gore’s election campaign, is calling on its supporters to stand with Gore until every legally cast ballot in Florida has been counted.
"No group benefited more than Irish emigrants from access to the ballot," said IAD president Stella O’Leary in a statement that was mailed to "Friends" of the Maryland-based organization before Monday’s Florida court setback.
"The vote gave us political influence that enabled us to overcome discrimination and bigotry and to become active and influential citizens in shaping America," O’Leary said.
"We have struggled to guarantee this same right of democracy and access to the vote to our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland, and we cannot now stand by and allow our fellow Americans to be denied the right to have their votes counted and their voices heard."
Tara decks its halls
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Tara Circle is planning to celebrate Christmas in a grand manor — in every sense of the term. The cultural group is holding its first "Trim The Tree" and open house at Alder Manor in Yonkers on Sunday, Dec. 10.
The group has been renovating Alder Manor in recent months. Tara secured the premises in a deal with the City of Yonkers, so ending a search for a home that began in the early 1990s when Tara unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the former King’s College campus in the Westchester County Village of Briarcliff Manor.
The open house will be from 1-5 p.m. and will include music, food and beverages. There is a suggested donation at the door of $20. Alder Manor at 1061 North Broadway in Yonkers. For details, call (914)964-8272.
Way to go
The official dedication of Paul O’Dwyer Way in Manhattan is set for Friday, Dec. 15, at the corner of Lafayette and Duane streets.
The City Council recently voted unanimously to name a portion of Duane Street in honor of the late County Mayo native who himself once headed the City Council and who for years was one of Irish America’s most prominent political activists.
A number of Irish-American organizations are angry over the reinstatement of two British Army soldiers despite their conviction in 1995 for the murder of a Belfast teenager, Peter McBride.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Society and Irish American Unity Conference have all protested the reinstatement of the soldiers, James Fisher and Mark Wright, with their regiment following their early release from life sentences.
"When is it acceptable for soldiers to gun down citizens in the street? Apparently when the soldiers are British and the citizens are nationalists or Catholics in Northern Ireland," said Tom Gilligan, national president of the AOH.
Tom Fox of the Irish American Unity Conference said it was "appalling" that U.S. soldiers might be asked to serve with a NATO ally army that included convicted murderers.
Kelly O’Neill, president of the Brehon Law Society, said the action insulted and injured the McBride family and the notion of the rule of law. Attorney and activist Frank Durkan observed dryly that the soldiers had "established their credentials for readmittance to the British Army."
Rep. James Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland group in Congress, also attacked the reinstatement of the soldiers, both members of the Scots Guards.
The decision to reinstate the two was a "travesty," Walsh said in a statement while urging the British government and army to reverse the decision.
Farrell to lead Brooklyn parade
Commissioner Kevin Farrell of the New York City Sanitation Department has been elected grand marshal for the 26th annual Brooklyn Irish American Parade. The parade will take place in Park Slope this coming March 18.
The 2001 parade is being dedicated to the memory of the late "Mr. Donegal," Willie Joe Cunningham.
Commissioner Farrell served for 37 years with both the New York City police and fire departments before being appointed to his present post.
Seeing red — hats
Two Irish-American Catholic archbishops, Edward Egan of New York and Theodore McCarrick, the new archbishop of Washington D.C., are expected to each receive a cardinal’s red hat in the new year. The elevation of both men to the College of Cardinals will likely take place in early February, according to reports. Archbishop Egan’s Irish roots are in Mayo. McCarrick’s are in Sligo.