By Ray O’Hanlon
The U.S. State Department will not be putting the Provisional IRA back on its official list of terrorist organizations at this time, but said it would be "closely monitoring" the group’s activities because of recent acts of violence.
In the first review of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations List in two years, the State Department said that although the peace process in Northern Ireland continued, officials monitoring the situation had noted "obvious difficulties." At the same time, the IRA would not be added "at this time."
"We are, however, concerned over recent indications of increased terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, and we will continue to monitor closely the activities of all paramilitary groups," the report stated.
Designation means that it is illegal for Americans to provide funds or material support to the groups, that members can be denied entry to the U.S. and that U.S. financial institutions must block the organizations’ funds.
Inclusion of the IRA on the list would likely have seriously jeopardized Sinn Féin’s ability to raise funds in the U.S.
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A State Department official, Michael Sheehan, said that the U.S. is currently monitoring members of "some dissident elements, some of whom may be former IRA members, to determine if there is sufficient evidence to designate one of these splinter groups as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law."
— Susan Falvella-Garraty in Washington
The Irish Embassy in Washington and the Consulate General in Chicago acted as financial go-betweens for the late Brian Lenihan as he underwent life-saving liver treatment at the Mayo Clinic in the late 1980s, the Moriarty Tribunal in Dublin was told.
Former Irish ambassador to Washington, Padraic McKernan, told the tribunal that prior to, and after, Lenihan’s liver transplant operation in May 1989, the embassy and consulate worked with various government departments in Dublin to ensure coverage of bills charged by the Mayo Clinic and the Methodist Hospital in Rochester, Minn. Medical invoices for Lenihan, who was tanaiste and minister for foreign affairs at the time, were relayed by the embassy to the government in Dublin. The pre- and post-liver transplant medical bills amounted to $82,386.70 while the operation itself cost $81,602. The money was paid out of the then Fianna Fáil government’s "leadership account." Lenihan died in November 1995 at the age of 64.
Tapping Irish prejudices
Irish sociologist Fr. Michael MacGreil S.J. will delve into the murky waters of the Irish and their attitudes to each other and everyone else in the world in a lecture Monday, Oct. 18, at the American Irish Historical Society in Manhattan. MacGreil, author of "Prejudice and Intolerance in Ireland," widely considered to be landmark study of Irish social attitudes, also chairs the Irish Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. He is scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call the AIHS at (212)288-2263.
Chicago recalls Great Hunger
A memorial to the victims of the Great Hunger in Ireland will be unveiled at Chicago Gaelic Park on Sunday, Oct. 24. The monument, commissioned and paid for by Gaelic Park, will be located next to the main building and will depict a destitute Irish family being evicted from their home during the Great Hunger of 1845-50. The bronze memorial is the work of Fr. Anthony Brankin of nearby St. Thomas Moore Parish.
As part of the dedication, Gaelic Park will be hosting a fund-raiser for the Irish relief organization Concern Worldwide. For details, call Chicago Gaelic Park at (708) 687-9323.
Barry stamp in 2003?
The Commodore Barry Club of Brooklyn has launched a transAtlantic campaign aimed at securing the release of a stamp commemorating Commodore John Barry, known as the "Father of the American Navy."
The club is hoping that both an Irish and U.S. stamp saluting the Wexford-born Barry will be issued in 2003, the 200th anniversary of his death.
Attorney Dennis McMahon, counsel and past president of the Brooklyn Barry club, has written to postal authorities in Washington and Dublin as well as a number of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.
"A stamp honoring John Barry will underscore his tremendous contribution to the birth of America as well as recognize the contribution the Irish have made to the growth and security of this country," said club president Mary Nolan.
In a letter to the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, Brooklyn State Assemblyman Joan Millman expressed support for a joint issue involving the Irish and U.S. postal services.
John Barry (1745-1803) was offered a commission by the British at the outset of the Revolutionary War. He choose his adopted country instead and at the end of the war was issued Commission Number One in the fledgling U.S. Navy by George Washington.
Anyone interested in helping the stamp effort can contact attorney McMahon at (718)680-1336.
€ The National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Tom Gilligan, has praised New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for his stance against the controversial "Sensation" exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, which includes a portrait of the Virgin Mary speckled with elephant dung. Gilligan described the portrait as an example of "bigotry."
€ The Cleveland -based Western Reserve Historical Society has announced the addition to its staff of an Irish American archivist and the formation of an Irish American archives department focusing on Cleveland’s Irish history. Lonnie J. McCauley, a graduate of Kent State University, will run the archives. For details on the project, call (216) 721-5722.
€ North Wildwood is laying claim to the largest Irish festival in the U.S. The ocean-front community in New Jersey attracted close to 200,000 visitors to its recent four-day festival. Co-chairs of the festival, Joseph Nelson and Jack Connelly, said the North Wildwood’s crowds had surpassed those of other big Irish festivals such as Milwaukee and Fort Lauderdale.