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Newsbriefs House passes 245i bill; Senate debate due

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

A bill that would extend immigration provision 245i for four months was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week by 336 votes to 43.

The House measure, which was largely based on an original bill submitted by Reps. Peter king and Carolyn McCarthy, was passed in an expedited vote with the backing of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. There were 53 abstentions.

The focus of attention for 245i backers has now turned to the Senate, where two bills are under consideration. As with the House, there is bipartisan support in the Senate for an extension of 245I, though there is debate over what the length of such an extension should be.

President Bush has indicated his support for extending 245I, which allows undocumented immigrants apply for legalization while remaining in the U.S. Congress is in recess this week and will resume on Monday, June 4.

Finucane probe call

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The New York Times has called for an independent judicial inquiry into the murders of Northern Ireland attorneys Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.

The Times, in a Memorial Day editorial, pointed to "disturbing information" uncovered by journalists investigating the 1989 murder of Finucane.

"Agents of British Army and R.U.C. intelligence have said that they participated in targeting and arranging Mr. Finucane’s murder. Credible witnesses have also said that the agents’ handlers knew a murder was coming and did nothing. The veracity of these claims must be tested by an independent public inquiry," the editorial stated.

With regard to the Nelson case, the editorial pointed to death threats from RUC officers leveled at the attorney for the Garvaghy Road residents who was killed by a car bomb in March 2000.

"The murder investigation, while led by a British police officer, has been run from the R.U.C. station that employs the officers who allegedly threatened her. That has discouraged witnesses from coming forward," the editorial said.

Haass ready to act

Dr. Richard Haass, the Bush administration’s front man on Northern Ireland, is ready to engage in a post-election initiative aimed at saving the troubled Good Friday accord, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

The paper, reflecting the position of a senior Bush administration official, reported that Haass was ready to travel to Ireland and Britain at short notice following the June 7 British general election.

The peace process is under pressure from a number of fronts. The North’s first minister, David Trimble, has threatened to quit on July 1 if the IRA does not start decommissioning its weapons and July will also see the peak weeks of the North’s marching season.

The Bush administration was working on the assumption that its good offices would be needed. This could include U.S.-based talks, the FT report stated.

O’Hagan honored

Former St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal Al O’Hagan was honored by New York city Council at a recent ceremony marking the council’s annual Irish Heritage Celebration.

Also honored at the event, hosted at City Hall by Speaker Peter Vallone, was this year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal, Ed Malloy, and Dr. Kevin Cahill, who led the parade up Fifth Avenue in 2000.

O’Hagan was honored for his work as chairman of the Great Irish Fair, held every year at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Schumer time again

Though the number of successful Irish applicants has plummeted, anyone from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland will have an opportunity to apply for a Schumer diversity visa again later this year. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has announced that the mail-in period for the DV-2003 visas will be from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, 2001. Detailed instructions for potential applicants will be released by the INS in late July or August.

Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have separate ceilings of 3,500 Schumer visas in the annual lottery. But a combination of fewer Irish applicants and increasing numbers of applications from many other countries has resulted in a sharp fall in the number of Irish obtaining a 2002 Schumer.

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