Category: Archive

Newsbriefs Famine ship group says Mets mum on proposal

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The new baseball season is under way, but as far as the Mets are concerned, all the noise is coming from the fans.

Mets management has yet to utter a reply to a proposal aimed at resolving the row over the ballclub’s $855 donation to the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship project.

The fund-raising group, The Famine Ship Ltd., wrote Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon on Jan. 29 expressing a desire for both sides to meet "and reach a reasonable and mutual conclusion" to the impasse.

"I have not heard anything from anyone at the Mets," Jeff Cleary, author of the letter and executive director of Famine Ship Ltd. told the Echo Tuesday.

The Mets wrote a check for $855 in the wake of Irish Night at Shea Stadium last August.

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The ballclub has stated that the check accurately reflects the ticket sales resulting from the efforts of Famine Ship Ltd., a group that was set up the help fund the building of a replica of the Famine-era sailing ship Jeanie Johnston.

The Famine Ship Ltd. has dismissed the check, describing it as a miserly response which does not accurately reflect the overall success of Irish Night.

The Mets check has not been cashed, although it has been covered by West Point businessman Denis Maher, who contributed $1,000 out of his own pocket to the Jeanie Johnston project.

The Jeanie Johnston rebuilding is taking place in County Kerry, close to where former Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs minister Dick Spring lives. Spring, who attended an Irish Consulate reception in New York last year — during which Irish Night’s support of the Jeanie Johnston was unveiled — is honorary chairman of Famine Ship Ltd.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the $855 check and the Echo’s coverage of the story received considerable attention in the recent issue of the public relations industry magazine O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report.

The magazine reported that the Mets took "a PR drubbing" as a result of the Echo’s coverage. A heading over one section of the report read "Mind-boggling PR."

Bruton for Fordham

Former Taoiseach John Bruton is to deliver a lecture at Fordham University’s Manhattan campus next week marking the 50th anniversary of the Irish Free State withdrawing from the British Commonwealth and becoming a republic.

Bruton’s lecture, "A New Patriotism for Ireland," will also look to the future in the context of the changing state of relations between Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

The lecture is being sponsored by Fordham’s Institute of Irish Studies and will take place on Saturday, April 17, at 1 p.m. in the McNally Amphitheatre, Fordham School of Law, 140 West 62nd St.

The Institute of Irish Studies is at (718) 817-4634.

California MacBride advance

California may be the next state to adopt the MacBride Principles on fair employment in Northern Ireland.

A MacBride bill, introduced by longtime MacBride supporter State Senator John Burton, was passed recently by the legislature’s public employment and retirement committee. The vote was 3-0.

The bill will now go to the floor of the full senate for a vote.

Despite previous disappointments in California, MacBride advocate Fr. Seán McManus, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Irish National Caucus, is now optimistic that the Principles will soon become law in the Golden State.

"It is my hope that this time we will succeed," McManus said. "Past governors of California vetoed the MacBride bill, but the new governor, Gray Davis, is expected to sign MacBride."

Passage of MacBride in California would be significant. It would require the state’s retirement systems, which have huge amounts of money invested in companies that do business in Northern Ireland, to annually investigate if these companies are in compliance with the MacBride Principles.

"The California constitution allows the legislature to stop such investments if it so decides," McManus said.

— Harry Keaney

No visa for Sands

Bernadette Sands McKevitt, vice-chair of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, has been denied entry to the U.S. for the second time in recent months. Sands McKevitt was hoping to attend an upcoming debate on the Good Friday accord sponsored by the Brooklyn Law School Irish Society.

"The State Department is clearly reverting to the failed policy of censorship by visa denial which Irish Americans hoped had been ended," said attorney Martin Galvin.

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