By Ray O’Hanlon
Geraldine Finucane, widow of slain Belfast attorney Pat Finucane, is expected in Washington, D.C., for St. Patrick’s Day as the campaign to launch a new inquiry’s into her husband’s murder gathers momentum.
The Irish government last week called for a full public inquiry into Finucane’s death in his Belfast home in February 1989 at the hands of loyalist gunmen. The need for such an inquiry was now "compelling," Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said.
The call for a new investigation came against the backdrop of a report in the Irish investigative magazine Phoenix that "at least two of the six assassins of Pat Finucane were trained at a secret British military camp" in Wales.
The report stated that the base was used by British army special forces and also U.S. Special Forces. The Americans at the base, Pontrilas, in a remote area of western Wales, were trained in "low-intensity counter-insurgency tactics used in Ireland by the British," according to Phoenix.
Amnesty International, in a statement last week, said that the British government had a responsibility "to properly investigate evidence of collusion between police and military intelligence agents and Loyalist paramilitaries" in the murder of Finucane.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
Adams for New York
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is expected in New York on March 15 for an event being planned by Friends of Sinn Féin. The group, meanwhile, is reporting fund-raising revenue just shy of $400,000 for the second six months of 1999. Since 1995, Friends of Sinn Féin has raised roughly $3.75 million for Sinn Féin in the U.S. FOSF is required to report fund-raising revenue to the U.S. Justice Department every six months.
McAllisters to march
The McAllister family of Belfast, currently facing U.S. deportation proceedings, is set to march in the Queens St. Patrick’s parade on Sunday, March 5.
The McAllisters and their supporters will be one of about 70 groups expected to take part in the event, which steps off at 1 p.m. at 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue. Reports have also raised expectations that Hillary Rodham Clinton will march in the parade.
Organizers of the parade are billing the Queens event as an inclusive march. Four of the participating groups are specifically gay and lesbian in membership. One of those, the Lavender and Green Alliance, has just posted a web site, http://www.lavenderand green.com. Applications for marching in the parade are obtainable on the site.
The McAllisters, meanwhile, have been told that their political asylum hearing, which was set for July 12 in a New Jersey federal court, has been moved forward a month to June 12.
GOP Irish honor Donohue
The National Assembly of Irish American Republicans has chosen New York Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue as its Person of the Year. Donohue will be presented with the award at a reception Thursday at Turtle Bay, 987 Second Ave. in Manhattan. Tickets, at $75 each, are available at the door or by calling (518) 369-4427. According to NAIAR, Donohue is being presented with the award for her strong interest in Irish issues and the assistance she has given to Irish organizations such as the Irish Business Organization and Ireland Chamber of Commerce USA.
Former Boston Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn was honored by the Kansas City Ancient Order of Hibernians last weekend when he was presented with the group’s International Peace Award.
"We must make ending the violence in Northern Ireland a major issue for all presidential candidates in the 2000 national election," Flynn said in accepting the award.
Schumer backs stamp
Senator Charles Schumer has come out in support of a stamp honoring Commodore John Barry, "Father of the U.S. Navy."
Schumer is the first senator to add his name to a growing list of politicians supporting a campaign by the Commodore Barry Club of Brooklyn aimed at securing a simultaneous Barry commemorative issue in both the U.S. and Ireland in 2003.
"Commodore John Barry reflects the true ideals of America. He embodied the determination that won the War of Independence and empowered this new country of immigrants," Schumer wrote of the Wexford native in a letter to the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee.
See you in . . .
"September," as the song line goes. But for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade? Yes, if you’re living in the Westchester County town of Peekskill. Parade organizers have moved the date for the 10-year-old event to Sept. 16.
Parade organizers told Catholic New York that the date switch would make it easier to secure marching bands and groups because Peekskill’s parade would no longer be competing with other parades in the area. The weather was also a factor, said the parade committee chairman, Jack Murphy.
"You watch these little kids going by with their blue legs and it makes you unhappy," Murphy said of the many school students who take part in the March parade.
This year’s joint grand marshals are husband and wife, Joseph and Ann Brady. Joseph Brady, a piper, is a co-founder of the Peekskill parade.