Category: Archive

News briefs: White House nominates Kenny for Irish post

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The announcement came during a visit to Washington by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen.
The nomination will next proceed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing, which will then be followed by a final vote by the full Senate. The hearing process will likely not proceed until September, when the Senate returns from summer recess.
There appears to be little opposition to the nomination in the Senate.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, said: “So far, we don’t see anything to object to, but I’m looking forward to the hearings.”
Dodd and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy had written a letter to President Bush last month complaining about the delay in nominating a replacement for Ambassador Richard Egan, who quit the Dublin last December.
Kenny, who founded Kenny Construction of Wheeling, Ill., and is currently its vice president has no previous diplomatic experience. He was, however, the finance chairman of the Illinois for Bush organization and subsequently served on the Bush administration’s transition team. He has been a significant financial contributor to the GOP.
Kenny Construction is currently involved in the expansion of Chicago’s Midway Airport and the renovations of Soldier Field, projects valued at $1.8 billion.
Kenny and his wife, Margaret, and their four children live in a Chicago suburb.
Meanwhile, Minister Cowen discussed a number of issues, including Northern Ireland with leaders on Capitol Hill. He is scheduled to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney Wednesday before flying to Boston.
Cowen was due to start his U.S. visit in New York Monday, but that leg was scrubbed due to pressing business in Ireland.

Sen. Edward Kennedy is drawing up a new immigration bill that is expected to address the problem of undocumented immigrants, including those from Ireland.
The bill would succeed an earlier bill sponsored by Kennedy and Sen. Tom Daschle aimed at restoring immigration provision 245i.
That bill, the United Families Act 2002, died with the end of the last Congress.
SA spokeswoman for Kennedy, Stephanie Cutter, said that the new bill would have a “broader reach” than the earlier version. Kennedy, she said, was still seeking a Republican co-sponsor for the planned new bill in the Senate.
News of a new bill that might grant relief to the undocumented comes at a time when pressure has clearly increased on Irish immigrants living outside the bounds of current immigration law.
245i was once a part of U.S. immigration law. It allows eligible undocumented immigrants to apply for legal residence without first having to return to their native countries and therefore face 3- or 10-year bars from the U.S.

The U.S. has suspended military aid to Ireland on the grounds that the Irish government will not agree to exemptions for U.S. soldiers before the new, Netherlands-based, war crimes court.
Ireland, along with the other 14 European members, has been a firm backer of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
“Our position is very committed on this,” an Irish government spokeswoman said in reference to the court.
The Bush administration has decided to remain outside of the court’s remit on the grounds that it fears hostile states will use the court to pursue American soldiers with groundless, politically motivated war-crimes charges.
Washington has reached bilateral deals with more than 50 countries that will result in those countries agreeing to exemptions for U.S. troops from potential charges before the court.
But close to as many countries, Ireland included, have declined to sign such exemption agreements with the U.S. government.
In addition, the Bush administration has itself exempted, on the basis of national interest, a number of countries from sanctions should they refuse to sign bilateral exemption agreements.
These include Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and all EU member states that are also members of the NATO alliance.
Ireland is neutral and remains outside of NATO.
The move to suspend aid to Ireland will have little practical effect as Ireland does not receive any U.S. military aid at the present time.
And despite the inclusion of Ireland on the suspension list, U.S. military aircraft, including two F-16 fighter jets, took part in a major air show in Galway last weekend.

Rep. James Walsh has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that will extend the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program until 2011.
The bill has attracted an initial 17 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary and International Relations committees.
The program, which was set up in the wake of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, grants three-year work visas, known widely as “Walsh Visas,” to eligible applicants from economically disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
One amendment to the bill will mean that Walsh Visa holders will be chosen entirely from the 21 to 35 age group.
Rep. Walsh, a Republican whose district is centered in Syracuse, N.Y., is chairman of the congressional Friends of Ireland group.

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens has expressed its thanks to the New York City Council for helping it to secure city funding for the coming year.
“The center is very grateful to council member Eric Gioia and Speaker Gifford Miller for all their budget campaigning efforts,” said Siobhan Dennehy, EIIC Executive Director at a press conference last week.
“Everyone knows how volatile the New York City budget process was this year and Gioia and Miller’s efforts saved the day. I can’t imagine how we could have survived to provide the level and scope of service without the funding that was restored through the City Council’s efforts,” Dennehy said.
“I am proud to have fought hard — and successfully — to ensure that the Emerald Isle Immigration Center will continue to provide the high level of services to immigrants from Ireland and around the world looking to become a part of the American dream,” Gioia said.
Emerald Isle’s annual budget is jointly funded by New York City and the Irish government.

The Third World charity GOAL USA is looking for runners to join TEAM GOAL USA at this year’s New York City marathon.
“If you were one of the lucky 30,000 people whose names were drawn on Wednesday, June 11, and would like to support one of the world’s most effective Third World charities, please contact us,” said GOAL USA representative Kelly Fincham.
Details on how to run for GOAL in the marathon are available on the website www.goalusa.org/marathon.
According to GOAL, it sends more than 95 percent of all monies raised directly to its aid projects in Africa and Asia. GOAL has raised more than $180 million since it was founded as a sports-based charity by Irish journalist John O’Shea in 1977.
(Susan Falvella-Garraty contributed to this report.)

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