By Ray O’Hanlon
The British Broadcasting Corporation has failed in a bid to have a New York judge reconsider his decision allowing Irish American rap singer Chris Byrne to sue the corporation in an American court over use of one of his songs.
A motion for reconsideration was denied on the spot in a Manhattan federal court last week by Judge Henry Stein.
Previously, Judge Stein had denied a BBC motion requesting that the case be heard in London.
Judge Stein has set a six-month limit from March 8 for additional discovery by both sides. Barring a settlement, a trial date is now expected anytime after Sept. 7.
Byrne is suing the BBC for $5 million while alleging that his copyrighted song, "Fenians," was used without permission on the BBC Northern Ireland political program "Spotlight" in October 1999.
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Judge Stein’s full decision on the original motion to move the case to London can be read on the web site www.smithdornanshea.com.
Hunger strike remembered
More than 1,000 people attended a Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral last Saturday dedicated to the 10 men who died in the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland 20 years ago.
During the Mass, the names of the dead were read out by Irish-American political activist Gerry Coleman. The Mass, celebrated by Msgr. Eugene Clark, was attended by Geraldine Sands, widow of IRA man Bobby Sands, the first hunger striker to die, in May 1981.
Msgr. Clark compared the hunger strikers to Catholic martyrs such as St. Thomas More and St. Ambrose and told the congregation that it was very important to keep the memory of the dead men alive and pass it on to others.
The strikers undertook their fasts in an effort to secure political status from the then Margaret Thatcher-led British government and though the strikes ended in tragedy, many in later years would see them as the starting point for the present peace process.
The St. Patrick’s Mass was jointly organized by Irish Northern Aid, Clan na Gael, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Brehon Law Society.
St. Pat’s parking break?
New York City suspends parking regulations for a variety of religious and secular holidays, but not for St. Patrick’s Day.
An effort is now under way to change that. Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens, is enlisting the support of a leading Jewish member of the City Council who successfully campaigned to have parking regulations suspended for the recent Jewish holiday of Purim.
Council member Noach Dear is also working toward a rules suspension on Ash Wednesday. O’Dwyer wants Dear to include St. Patrick’s Day on his list.
"The celebration of Purim . . . represents the triumph of an oppressed people with a steadfast faith over a foreign oppressor. Saint Patrick’s Day carries the same message," O’Dwyer wrote Dear.
O’Dwyer sent a similar written appeal this week to New York’s Commissioner of Transportation, Iris Weinshall.
No greater memory
When Phillip "Knute" Bonner leads the 50th annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade this weekend he will be thinking about many things, not least his boyhood friend Joseph Collins.
Bonner is personally dedicating this year’s parade to Collins, who was killed on Dec. 19, 1945 at the Battle of the Bulge.
Bonner was a U.S. Army Combat Engineer who marched across Europe in the final days of Hitler’s Germany. He was present at the liberation of the Buchenwald death camp in May 1945.
After the war, Bonner, a father of eight, served as a Philadelphia police officer for 20 years before becoming a state auditor.
The theme of this year’s Philadelphia parade is "St. Patrick, Give Special Comfort to Those Who Gave Their Lives for the Cause of Irish Freedom." Bonner’s nickname, "Knute," is due to his mother being from Sweden. His father was a native of Derry.
Sweeney honors Biaggi
Former Rep. Mario Biaggi was honored by the D.C. Friends of Ireland group at its annual dinner in Washington last week. Biaggi, a former chairman of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, was presented with a plaque at the dinner by AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. Biaggi was one of the first members of Congress to visit Northern Ireland while expressing strong support for nationalist political groups and parties, including Sinn Féin.
Sweeney, meanwhile, is expected to speak at the "Mike Quill/James Connolly Irish Celebration Day" in New York City this Thursday, March 15, from 5-8 p.m. Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness is also expected to attend the event at the TWU Local 100 Union Hall, 80 West End Ave., at the corner of West 64th St., in Manhattan. For details, call (212) 873-6000.
Foundation’s new president
The Atlantic Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by Irish businessman Charles Feeney, has a new president.
He is John R. Healy, the Irish-born head of Tara Consultants, a Dublin-based company that advises the Atlantic Foundation on its grant allocations outside the U.S.
Healy is a former chief executive of the Irish American Partnership and prior to that he was a top official with the Irish government’s Export board.
Healy succeeds Harvey Dale as head of the Hamilton, Bermuda-based Atlantic Foundation, of which Feeney is founding chairman.
Feeney — a reclusive man whose most public role in recent years was as a member of the Irish-American peace delegation that helped secure a U.S. visa for Gerry Adams — made headlines in January 1997 when the New York Times reported on its front page that he had given away $600 million over the previous 15 years to various worthy causes.
Come on over
People who stayed away from the recent Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the grand marshal was pro-choice on the abortion issue are welcome to take part in the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, parade on March 25, according to Brooklyn GOP Councilman Marty Golden.
"Our parade has been and will continue to be a Catholic parade in honor of St. Patrick," Golden was quoted as saying in a report by the Staten Island Advance.
Envoy now — Flynn
President Bush should appoint a peace envoy to Northern Ireland in order to demonstrate his commitment to bringing about a permanent peace, former Boston mayor Ray Flynn said in a St. Patrick’s Day statement.
Flynn, who presently heads the Catholic Alliance, said that Bush should also convene a White House investment conference aimed at the North.
"The dream of peace and justice cannot and will not be achieved without the special attention and help of the U.S. government," Flynn, who is also the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, said.
Famine curriculum ready
After several years in the making, a draft of the New York State Famine curriculum, which will be taught in public schools throughout the state, has been completed.
The curriculum, which will deal with the circumstances leading up and surrounding the Great Hunger of 1845-50, will now be viewed by educators and historians before it’s finally released to the schools.
A source familiar with the project said that extra money was now needed to back up the actual teaching of the curriculum, which was compiled at Hofstra University under the supervision of Dr. Maureen Murphy.