By Ray O’Hanlon
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is but one of several top party members who will be visiting U.S. and Canadian cities over the St. Patrick’s Day period.
Adams will be in New York and Atlanta over a six-day period beginning March 14.
The party’s deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, is heading for New York, Kentucky, Hartford, Springfield and Lowell in Massachusetts, and also Boston. He will conclude his trip with an event in Toronto.
Other top party members expected are Gerry Kelly, Martin Ferris and Mitchell Gildernew. Kelly is lined up for events in Philadelphia, Trenton, Syracuse and New York City on St. Patrick’s Day. Ferris will visit Seattle and San Francisco, while Gildernew will be in Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
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Sectarianism and its impact on the future of Northern Ireland will be the subject of a conference in New York’s Cooper Union next week.
A number of leading writers are lined up for the event, including author Christine Kinealy.
Also due to speak are Tommy Gorman, a former republican prisoner and a co-founder of the Irish Republican Writer’s Group and Fourthwrite Magazine, a publication that has been a critical sounding board for republicans in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Good Friday agreement.
Susan McKay, award-winning Irish journalist and author of the critically acclaimed book "Northern Protestants, An Unsettled People," is also listed to speak, as is Bill McGimpsey, a New York-area based commentator on Northern Ireland from a unionist perspective.
The conference, organized by the Irish Famine/Genocide Committee, will take place in Cooper Union’s Wollman Auditorium at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan. For details, call (201) 440-5599.
Mass. Emeralds go national
The Western Massachusetts Emerald Society was officially inducted into the National Conference of Law Enforcement Emerald Societies last weekend at a ceremony held at the John Boyle O’Reilly club in Springfield.
The society was started two years ago and has been steadily swelling its ranks since then with active and retired members drawn from various public-safety institutions, including police and fire departments.
The Springfield ceremony was attended by a number of NCLEES officers, including the National President of the Emerald Societies, Lieutenant Patrick O’Brien of the U.S. Park Police.
The current president of the Western Mass. Society is Bernard Shevlin, a native of Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, who is currently with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.
€ Thirty-five veterans of the Irish army will step out in the North Wildwood, N.J., St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday, March 10. The veterans, who served in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Cyprus and Lebanon, will be honored as grand marshals of the parade, which itself will follow a noon ceremony and raising of the Irish flag alongside the Stars & Stripes in front of North Wildwood City Hall.
€ Illinois Gov. George Ryan has proclaimed the month of March as Irish American Heritage Month in the state. A proclamation signed by Ryan recognizes the contribution of Irish immigrants to the cultural and social life of Illinois. It also specially recognizes the work of Irish immigrant labor in the construction of the Illinois Michigan Canal.
€ The Bergen Irish Association in New Jersey will honor two of its own on St. Patrick’s Day. Clare native Joseph O’Dea, the association’s man of the year, and Galway native Sally Roche, woman of the year, will be feted at the association’s 37th annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner dance at Gatsby’s in Cresskill.