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News Briefs: Christmas suicide shakes community

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Last September, a 23-year-old construction worker from Cavan took his life in his Queens apartment.
Young males between the ages of 18 and 24 are considered to be most prone to suicide. And experts agree that the Christmas and New Year holiday is a period of especially high suicide risk.
Siobhan Dennehy, executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Woodside, said that the latest tragedy was a stark reminder that there was a pressing need for heightened counseling for Irish immigrants who might be depressed to the point of being suicidal.
She said that the center would be working in the new year to expand its already qualified counseling service in order to meet this urgent need.

SENATORS PRESSED ON SPICER
Members of the U.S. Senate are being asked to investigate the $293 million Pentagon contract given a company run by a former British army officer with a controversial past in Northern Ireland.
Tim Spicer, described in one recent British Sunday newspaper report as “Britain’s most notorious mercenary,” is wanted by the government of Equatorial Guinea in connection with an alleged coup plot. Spicer has denied any involvement.
Spicer’s company, Aegis Defense Services, is being paid millions by the Pentagon for security service in Iraq.
The contract has prompted anger in Northern Ireland, and from Irish-American activists, because as lieutenant colonel commanding the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast, Spicer defended the shooting dead of unarmed teenager Peter McBride in 1992.
Fr. Sean McManus of the Washington, D.C.-based Irish National Caucus is asking Democratic senators Byron Dorgan and Harry Reid to investigate the Aegis contract. The senators have stated their intention to convene hearings into alleged contract abuses in Iraq. The hearings will be informal and have no power of subpoena but Dorgan was reported in the Washington Post as saying that many “whistle-blowers” would see the hearings as an important forum.
McManus said that the hearings would be an “excellent opportunity” to hold Spicer accountable “for his military unit assassinating young Peter McBride in Northern Ireland in 1992.”

FAST TRACK RESIGNATION
The revised U.S./UK extradition treaty, intended to fast track extradition proceedings between the two countries, was not approved by the 108th Congress before its passing into history last week.
And the political careers of the treaty’s two primary signatories are also being consigned to the historical record.
The treaty was signed U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and British Home Secretary Blunkett in March of last year.
Ashcroft recently announced that he was leaving the Bush administration.
And Blunkett resigned last week following a series of newspaper reports that he fast-tracked a visa for a nanny working for his former lover.
The revised treaty, meanwhile, is expected to be back on track for Senate approval sometime after the 109th Congress convenes in January.

FRIENDS RAISED $600K
Friends of Sinn Fein raised in excess of $600,000 during the recent U.S. tour by the party president, Gerry Adams.
But the party will not be sitting on the money pending a better exchange rate between the lowly dollar and either or both the soaring euro and sterling.
“The exchange rate is always a gamble, but we don’t get into that,” said FOSF president Larry Downes.
Downes indicated that the money grossed during Adams’s visit to several U.S. cities would be used to pay bills on both sides of the Atlantic with the balance going into the party’s coffers in Ireland.

WALSH STILL CONFIDENT
As the search for a North political deal stumbles on, Rep. Jim Walsh has expressed confidence that President Bush will follow up his recent phone calls to Northern Ireland political leaders and remain personally engaged in the peace process in the new year.
“U.S. involvement in the peace process has been critical; without it, the British would not have come along,” said Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland in Congress.
Walsh believes that the administration should remain closely involved in the peace process no matter the ups and downs.
Walsh said that Washington had not lost its focus, that the U.S. envoy to the peace process, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, had done a good job and that the president was willing to engage.
“President Clinton played the peace process beautifully. President Bush could now be the deal closer,” he said.
The president, meanwhile, has won praise from a source other than political for his recent calls to Paisley and Adams.
The Hartford Courant praised Bush in an editorial for playing a “key role” in the effort to push a final peace deal over the top.
But with a prophetic twist the Connecticut daily added: “If the president can help reinvigorate the long-stalled process of reconciliation between Northern Ireland’s warring factions, it will be a feather in his cap. But it won’t be easy.”

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