By Ray O’Hanlon
Kids from kindergarten to 12th grade in Oregon public schools will soon be given the opportunity to learn about the Great Hunger and its consequences for both Ireland the the United States.
Oregon Gov. John A. Kitzhaber recently signed into law Senate Bill 771, legislation that allows public elementary and secondary schools to include instruction on the Famine.
Section one of the bill reads: "Every public kindergarten through grade 12 school may include in its curriculum a unit of instruction on the causes and effects of mass starvation in mid-19th century Ireland. This historical period is known as the ‘Irish Famine.’
"The Department of Education shall prepare and make available to all school district boards a model curriculum that may be used as a guideline for developing units of instruction under this section."
The bill was initially sponsored by Cork-born State Sen. Tony Corcoran and his colleague Lee Beyer.
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Campaigning for the bill began four years ago, according to Springfield resident Dennis Shine, who was inspired to lead the effort after reading about curriculum campaigns in New York, New Jersey and other states.
"It’s been a long time coming but it has certainly been worth it," Shine said.
Cardinal to step down
Ending several years of speculation about his retirement, Cardinal John O’Connor has indicated that he will likely step down as cardinal archbishop of New York early in the new year.
O’Connor, a popular prelate among Irish Americans, has been troubled by ill-health in recent months. In a message to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the 79-year-old O’Connor indicated his belief that Pope John Paul would accept his resignation when he turns 80 on Jan. 15.
Aer Lingus on the up
Aer Lingus is flying into the new century with plans for more transAtlantic flights next summer.
The Irish carrier is planning to increase its capacity on the now highly profitable cross-ocean routes by 16 percent.
"We are opting for prudent growth that we think will translate into profitable growth," said Aer Lingus Executive Vice President, North America Jack Foley.
During the peak summer period in 2000, Aer Lingus plans to operate 53 round-trips per week with 27 flights to Dublin and 26 to Shannon out of five U.S. airports.
The planned increase in service will be particularly evident in the airline’s recently inaugurated connection between Los Angeles and Ireland. The airline’s service out of L.A. will increase by 133 percent over 1999 levels during the peak summer months.
Flight levels out of Boston and Chicago will also rise, with additional flights going to Dublin and Shannon from both Logan and O’Hare airports.
During the peak season, the carrier will offer 23 flights a week out of Kennedy Airport in New York to both Shannon and Dublin while a daily flight out of Newark in New Jersey is also planned.
Robinson at Fordham
The international community must implement strong legal mechanisms to ensure violators of human rights are held accountable, regardless of the time elapsed or the standing of the individual accused, United National High Commissioner for Human rights, Mary Robinson, said during a recent speech at Fordham University in New York.
Robinson, Ireland’s former president, has been publicly at odds recently with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over the fate of onetime Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, currently facing a Spanish extradition warrant . Meanwhile, John D. Feerick, Dean of Fordham Law School, was honored recently as 1999 Gold Medalist of the American Irish Historical Society at a ceremony in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Manhattan.