Category: Archive

Newsbriefs McDonald embarks on mission for peace

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Hero New York cop Steve McDonald is traveling across Northern Ireland in the coming days on a mission of peace and reconciliation.

McDonald, who was paralyzed by an assailant’s bullet while on duty in Central Park on a July day in 1986, is being pushed across the North in his wheelchair.

McDonald’s journey begins Wednesday in Dundalk and his ultimate destination is Belfast.

The journey is linked to a group called Project Reconciliation. McDonald, who now holds the rank of NYPD detective, has been working with the group for the last couple of years.

"In my travels across Ireland these two years, I know that there are more stories of forgiveness than there are street corners. Yet, very few people know about how people have forgiven each other in Northern Ireland and how through forgiveness people in all communities can be reconciled with each other," McDonald said before departing New York.

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"I plan to meet people in all communities and all places along the way to share my story of forgiveness and listen to the people of Northern Ireland relate what forgiving and being forgiven means to them," he added.

McDonald attracted widespread attention and admiration when he publicly forgave the man whose bullet took away his ability to walk.

McDonald will be helped in his journey by a number of volunteers, a number of whom will be traveling from the U.S.

Among them will be Rockland County attorney Denis Lynch, his brother Terry, a photographer, and Det. Sgt. Tim O’Neill of the Clarkstown Police Department.

Meanwhile, details of McDonald’s efforts for peace and reconciliation can be obtained from the Project Reconciliation website: www.ProjectReconciliation.com.

Money for IFI, Project Children

Separate proposals that would result in extra money for the International Fund for Ireland and first-time money for the charity Project Children have been included in the budget currently before Congress.

The IFI provision, written by Rep. Joe Crowley, would see the annual U.S. contribution to the IFI rise by $4.6 million, to $25 million.

Crowley has also written a provision that would allocate a quarter-of-a-million dollars to Project Children, the organization founded by County Cork native Denis Mulcahy that provides vacations in the U.S. every summer for Protestant and Catholic children from Northern Ireland.

Crowley said that there was bipartisan support in the House of Representatives for both provisions and he was confident that both would succeed when it came to a floor vote sometime in the next few days.

Lazio urged to help Pearson

Two Rockland County legislators have appealed to Republican New York Senate candidate Rick Lazio to throw his weight behind the campaign to secure County Tyrone native Brian Pearson permanent status in the U.S.

John Murphy, a member of the Rockland County Legislature and Denis Troy, a member of Orangetown Town Council, have urged Lazio to meet with them and Pearson so that he can acquaint himself with the facts of the case.

Like other members of the group known as the deportees, Pearson is being currently allowed remain in the U.S. and the threat of immediate deportation is apparently remote.

However, proceedings against Pearson could be reopened by the U.S. Justice Department and, as a result, a campaign continues on his behalf, and that of several other Northern Ireland men, aimed at securing permanent residence and ultimately U.S. citizenship.

Lazio’s opponent, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, has previously stated that she would "certainly entertain" working toward a permanent closure of proceedings against the deportees.

"I think that the issue of the deportees is one that should be reconsidered," Clinton said in December.

Reps. want Hamill inquiry

Seventeen members of the House of Representatives have urged Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Mandelson to convene an independent inquiry into the murder of Robert Hamill in Portadown, Co. Armagh, three years ago.

Hamill, a Catholic, was kicked to death by a gang of loyalists within sight of an RUC patrol. The coroner for Greater Belfast, which includes the Portadown area, recently stated that there would be no independent investigation into the Hamill case because of possible danger to witnesses.

"My colleagues and I urge Secretary of State Peter Mandelson to open a formal independent inquiry into the murder of Robert Hamill. After three years of threats and uncertainty, Mr. Hamill’s family deserves the justice of a full inquiry," Rep. Joe Crowley, who drafted the letter to Mandelson, said in a statement.

Monitors for marchers

Rep. Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, is calling for international observers to monitor events during Northern Ireland’s marching season.

"These sectarian marches are corrosive to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland," Gilman said in a statement.

"These marches should be eliminated in their entirety since they undermine the intentions of the Good Friday agreement by insulting Catholics and inciting civil unrest. If this goal cannot be met at the present moment then the marches should be closely monitored by the international community in order to deter the possibility of any violence."

Moynihan’s Courthouse

President Clinton has signed into law legislation naming the federal courthouse in Manhattan after Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring from Congress in Jan., 2001. Moynihan is the current Irish Echo Person of the Year.

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