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Newsbriefs House passes RUC resolution

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The U.S. house of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution urging full implementation of the Patten Commission’s recommendations for police reform in Northern Ireland.

Last week’s passage of the measure, which is mirrored by a Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, was hailed by Democrats and Republicans.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert hailed passage, saying that the path of peace in Northern Ireland must travel through comprehensive policing reforms. The RUC "must be overhauled in a way that builds trust in both communities," he said.

Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he hopes the British government "is serious about reforming a 93-percent Protestant police force that lacks substantial Catholic and nationalist support and has a long history of human rights abuses."

Rep. Joe Crowley also welcomed passage of the resolution, stating that it would send a message across the Atlantic that the U.S. supports the adherence to all aspects of the Good Friday agreement "without exception."

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Immigrant groups get cash

Irish immigrant advice groups across the U.S. are to receive $300,000 from the Irish government.

The funding, for the 2000-01 period, was earmarked for distribution during the recent visit to New York by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen.

The top beneficiaries are both in New York. The Emerald Isle Immigration Center is to receive $65,000, while Project Irish Outreach, which is attached to Catholic Charities, will also get $65,000.

The Irish Pastoral Center in Boston has been awarded $50,500, while the Irish Immigration Center in the same city will get $46,000.

The other funding recipients and totals allocated are: Philadelphia Immigration Resource Center, $24,000; San Francisco Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, $17,500; Chicago Irish Immigration Support, $9,000; Failte Irish Immigration Center, Washington D.C., $8,500; Sinead Smith Counseling Service, San Francisco, $8,000; Irish Apostolate USA, Washington D.C., $4,000; Catholic Charities Immigration Counseling Services, Dallas, $2,000; South California Irish Network, Los Angeles, $500.

The latest funding allocation brings the total distributed by successive Irish governments to immigrant support groups in the U.S. to almost $2.8 million since 1990.

Pittsburgh mission

A delegation from the Irish Institute of Pittsburgh is in Ireland this week on a fact-finding mission aimed at promoting educational and economic partnerships between Ireland and western Pennsylvania.

The Institute’s president, Sister Michele O’Leary, said the group is excited about the possibilities of expanding its education links with Ireland.

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh was founded in 1989 with the stated aims of promoting mutual understanding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and to promote job creation throughout Ireland.

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.

On Sept. 29, 1998, Nelson told House members of receiving death threats. 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.

"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," they said.

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