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News Briefs: Push on for extradition treaty hearing

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

A hearing could take place as early as Wednesday, July 19.
A hearing was held last November and statements were taken from U.S. government attorneys
But the committee sensationally pulled back from a vote at the last minute.
Irish American objections to the revised treaty, as detailed by leading critic, Prof. Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, include the treaty’s elimination of the traditional political offense exception.
Boyle argues that the revised treaty wipes out a number of constitutional and procedural safeguards including any statute of limitation, the need for any showing of probable cause and makes it irrelevant if the person targeted for extradition has actually acted within the bounds of U.S. law.
“Most outrageously,” Boyle has stated, responsibility for prosecution would be transferred from the courts to the executive branch of government.
Boyle has called on the Foreign Relations panel to reject the treaty outright.

NEAL WINS TOP AOH HONOR
Congressman Richard Neal was the toast of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Boston last week.
Neal was the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal at the order’s 93rd National Convention.
“As the grandson of Irish immigrants, this award is especially meaningful to me. Like so many in my generation, I became involved in politics and government because of John F. Kennedy,” Neal, a co-chair of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, said.
“To receive a medal named after the late president from such a prominent organization is a great honor.”
Previous recipients of the medal include the late Cardinal John O’Connor, John Hume, Gerry Adams and Belfast’s Fr. Aidan Troy.
“The medal is the most prestigious award given by our noble order. Your selection from a distinguished field of candidates is a tribute to your unwavering support for the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement,” said incoming AOH National President Jack Meehan in a salute to Neal.
Other honorees at the convention included County Galway native Jerry Quinn who was presented with the AOH Humanitarian Award.
The keynote address was delivered by philanthropist and former Philadelphia Eagles general manager, Jim Murray.
During the convention, Jack Meehan was formally elected successor to outgoing national president Ned McGinley.
McGinley described the Boston gathering as an outstanding success and said that Hibernians were looking forward to the next biennial convention in New Orleans in 2008.
Jack Meehan, meanwhile, is expected to maintain his predecessor’s prominence on issues such as Northern Ireland, the Irish language and immigration. He will serve as Hibernians’ 35th national president.

DURKAN IN U.S.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan will be in New York and Washington D.C. this week.
During his New York stopover, Durkan will meet with Grant Lally of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. In Washington he will meet with European Union Ambassador John Bruton and members of Congress.
Durkan is also seeking a sit down with the Bush administration’s special envoy to the North peace process, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss.

FUNDS FOR JUDGE CENTER
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved up to $300,000 in federal funding for a Father Mychal Judge Center at St. Bonaventure University in southwestern New York State.
The center would facilitate exchange programs between the university and institutions in Northern Ireland.
Fr. Judge was serving as chaplain of the New York Fire Department when he died at the World Trade Center on September 11.
“I am excited about St. Bonaventure’s establishment of the Father Mychal Judge Center and for the possibilities it will mean, not only for the students here in America but for those in Northern Ireland who will travel to western New York,” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who pressed for the inclusion of the funding, said.
The funding must now be approved by the full Senate and House of Representatives.

IAUC GIVES LOW MARKS TO HAIN
The Irish American Unity Conference has lost confidence in Northern Secretary Peter Hain’s ability to “fairly manage” the peace process.
“A series of controversial decisions by Peter Hain, which have been clearly and unashamedly designed to bolster unionism and disadvantage nationalism, have undermined his authority and standing in Irish America,” IAUC National president Bob Linnon said.
“Mr. Hain has become a team player for the DUP and not a referee, making it impossible for him to bring the pressure to bear on Dr. Paisley’s party which is needed if the political logjam is to be broken,” Linnon added.
Linnon highlighted five areas where Hain had made decisions that, in his view, harkened back to the days of unionist rule at Stormont “rather than the era of fair play supposedly ushered in by the Good Friday agreement.”
The IAUC leader cited Hain for bending the rules of Parades Commission appointments to put “two obviously biased Orangemen” on the commission while making no effort to have the views of nationalist residents represented.
Other transgressions highlighted by Linnon were:
? Appointing a head of the Victims’ Commission after consulting only with the DUP.
? Blocking demands for a full investigation of British security force collusion in the case of murdered human rights attorney Pat Finucane and seeking to frustrate attempts by nationalists to uncover the truth about past killings by the British security forces.
? Refusing start-up assistance and advertising to the pro-United Ireland newspaper Daily Ireland.
? The imprisonment of republican Sean Kelly in June, 2005 showed, according to the IAUC, that Hain was “more interested in pandering to the DUP than pushing forward the peace process.”

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