By Ray O’Hanlon
The Irish-American community in Chicago is rallying around two children whose parents passed away in the last year.
Brianne and Ian Nally lost their mother, Chris, a year ago when she succumbed to cancer following an eight-year battle with the disease.
That battle resulted in the family facing massive medical bills. But less than three months after his wife’s death, Pat Nally died after he contracted the same strain of pneumonia that killed Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets.
Relatives and friends of the family, which has Mayo roots, have since formed "The Nally Children Benefit" in order to raise money to pay off the debts now facing Brianne and Ian, who are both teenagers living in the Chicago Ridge area.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, the benefit committee will host a benefit party that will include a silent auction and raffle.
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Anyone wishing to aid the Nallys can make donations to the Brianne and Ian Nally Trust Fund, c/o LaSalle Bank, 4200 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, IL 60453. More details on the fund-raising effort are available by calling Jim McGrath at (708)614-9277.
RUC resolution possible
Efforts to pass a U.S. Senate resolution calling for full implementation of the Patten report on police reform in Northern Ireland were still under way this week.
The measure has been stalled as a result of objections to the wording of the resolution voiced by Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The resolution’s prime sponsor is Sen. Edward Kennedy. A spokesman for Kennedy said that the resolution was still "a live issue" despite the delay in passage.
Time is another danger to the resolution’s prospects. The 106th Congress will adjourn in a few days for the elections, although exactly which day will be the last day on Capitol Hill remains uncertain.
The House of Representatives previously passed its own resolution calling for full implementation of Patten.
Meanwhile, a Toronto-based member of the Patten Commission, Dr. Clifford Shearing, has warned against any cherry-picking of the commission’s findings.
Searing told a recent meeting in Toronto organized by the Information on Ireland Campaign that he was "taken aback" by what he saw as a failure to focus on the main points of the Patten report.
Reps. remember Rosemary
Five members of U.S. House of Representatives have issued a statement marking the second anniversary of testimony delivered in Washington by slain Northern Ireland human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson.
Nelson told House members of receiving death threats during her testimony two years ago. A few months later she was killed in a car bombing.
The congressmen, Chris Smith, Donald Payne, Peter King, Joe Crowley and Jim Walsh, said they would never forget what happened to Nelson or attorney Patrick Finucane, who was murdered by loyalist gunmen.
In a statement, they called on the British government to take "decisive action" to protect defense attorneys in Northern Ireland.
"We renew our call for an RUC-free investigation of the brutal murder of Rosemary Nelson and ask once again for an independent judicial inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane," they said.
"After 18 months, the circumstances surrounding Rosemary Nelson’s murder, as well as the harassment she withstood while she was alive, are still not being adequately investigated."