Immigration

Over the past few years, many hours of conference calls, meetings, and email and phone communications have been employed by the AOH towards our current effort for immigration reform. We’ve listened and considered the often valid and thought provoking, and as often polarizing and scathing critiques and opposition of the current Immigration Bill from Hibernians and others. Let me be clear, the current Congressional Immigration legislation is not perfect, no Bill is. It is not our responsibility to draft federal legislation. Our responsibility is to our Irish immigrants, whether undocumented or our future Irish immigrants, to assure safe and legal paths. Were we to stand idly by while other interest groups succeed in passing legislation; Based on past practice, we would not get another chance for AT LEAST 20 YEARS! Therefore, this organization and its members cannot and will not sit on the sidelines on CIR. Should it fail; we will dust ourselves off and get back on the horse. Tenacity is one of our greatest attributes as Hibernians and we will continue until we succeed.

On a July 11th visit to Washington DC, I met with 12 members of the House, particularly GOP representatives, to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  I can report that these visits were well received by all and the legislators and staff shared their issues with the current Senate Bill, S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  That evening at the Embassy of Ireland, along with representatives of ILIR and Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, I met Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore, Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and Foreign Affairs Director General Niall Burgess to compare our observations on the current Irish American efforts and the viability of CIR. It was acknowledged that the AOH is uniquely positioned as the only organization with members in many of the Congressional Districts needed to pass this legislation. We left that meeting confident that we are closer today than we have been in nearly 50 years to real reform that includes Homeland Security and border improvements, an end to the plight of the Irish undocumented and a real quota of new legal visas for Irish immigrants. The hard work has just begun. The AOH is once again leading the way on immigration reform and we have a lot to do.

Hibernians, particularly those in GOP led Districts, are encouraged to let your US Representative know that as an Irish American and a Hibernian that you feel Comprehensive Immigration Reform is good for the Nation and you would like the Representative to support it as well. During the summer recess, your Congressman will attend many events in your District. If you have an opportunity, please speak to the legislator. Consider making an appointment to visit the legislator’s district office. If not, please get on the phone; write an email or letter to your Congressional House Representative. If the Representative is not available ask for the legislative or immigration aide. Also, we need to keep a running tab on legislators that are onboard and those that might need a gentle nudge towards support. Please contact me with results of your efforts good bad or indifferent. Communication within our organization is a key to our success and you can play a major role in improving those lines of communication.

(Included in this Digest is a letter from National President Brendan Moore. Please email me at dandennehy@hotmail.com  and I will send you a personalized digital copy of that letter for your Congressman that you may send along with your own letter or message to the representative.)

 

Here are some of the benefits to Irish America included in the passed Senate Bill, S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:

Path to Citizenship for Undocumented: The bill puts 50,000 Irish undocumented on a 13 year long path to citizenship accompanied by a system of fines, taxes and criminal background checks. The PRI’s, as the undocumented will then be known, will be required to become ‘vested’ in Social Security, PAY FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE AND OTHER BENEFITS for a nearly decade-long  period. Only after 9 years of gainful employment and tax payment, the PRI’s are Green card eligible and only then may they avail of the benefits available to every US legal naturalized resident. Providing that certain security measures are satisfied, 180 days after the legislation is signed, the PRI’s will be allowed to live, work, and travel home to Ireland freely throughout the period of adjustment. This would bring great relief to their family members back in Ireland, many who haven’t seen loved ones in decades.

Future Flow: the Schumer Visa (AKA Irish E3 Visa) is 10,500 annual and renewable 3 year visas for Irish citizens, and their families, to live and work in the US. This will create much needed future flow for Ireland AND IS THE LARGEST ALLOTMENT OF VISAS FOR THE IRISH SINCE 1965. The Schumer Visas name was selected by the Senators colleagues as a tribute to his championing Irish Visa issues, especially during the critical Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Provisions in legislation would lead to an oath to green cards for these workers.

Work, Education and Language Requirements: There are many changes and new avenues in Comprehensive Immigration Reform that can provide for a greater number of Irish people, North and South, to apply for visas due to the English language, education and other requirements included. Irish students educated at our Universities would be given a long sought after opportunity; to stay in the US upon completing their education, instead of being forced to go home, as is the current practice.

In closing, as part of my responsibilities as Immigration Chair, I often field 10 to 15 calls and emails a week from AOH members with a variety of immigration issues (N. Ireland related, deportations, incarcerations, marriage related, adjustments of status, lawyer referrals, criminal issues, migration/ emigration/ holiday travel, J1 Visas, etc.) This work cannot be done without the support of members across the Order and the network of Irish immigrant advocates, lobbyists and attorneys that we have developed over the years. We also rely on the Irish Consulates and Irish Immigration Centers and they on the AOH. In Superstorm Sandy’s recovery we all came together for a common cause. Now we are asked to come together to, once and for all, address the need for Comprehensive Immigration reform. Please continue to support our Irish Immigration Centers; we will need them when our work on the Bill is done. I wish you and your loved ones, a safe and healthy summer.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Dennehy

North Carolina News

In keeping with our motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity, the St. Brendan Division of the AOH in Huntersville, NC, presented checks in the amount of $500 each to St. Mark’s Home School, St. Mark’s Catholic Elementary School and Christ the King High School.

The funds were raised from our Hibernian Dinner and Show, which is held each year in the month of March to honor the patron Saint of Ireland. Catholic education is one of the core charities that the Division supports, the others being “Room at the Inn,” Laura Lynn Ireland’s Children’s Hospice and also supporting seminarians from the Diocese of Charlotte.

Members of the Division also traveled to St Dorothy’s Church in Lincolnton to attend mass at which the Divisions former chaplain and fellow Hibernian was installed as the pastor.

Greensboro, NaCara Division held its annual brats and baseball tailgate cookout on June 27. After eating and socializing, all who attended went to Newbridge Park to watch the Grasshoppers play the visiting team. A good time was had by all.  The Division also held a Shamrock degree for four new members.

The Michael Collins Division, the driving force behind Greenville’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is giving back to the community with donations of $500.00 each to the Wounded Warrior Project and to the Greenville Ulster Project. These funds were raised from parade revenues.

Director’s Report

Jack O’Brien, Mrs. Collins and Ambassador Michael Collins at the Annapolis fundraiser.

I had the pleasure of being invited to dinner by several newly arrived Embassy staffers here in Washington. This dinner was also attended by former president Ned McGinley and Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy. With recent cutbacks in staffing at the Embassy, the responsibilities and workload of the newly arrived have increased. The dinner was enjoyable as we (on the AOH side) described the lay of the land in the U.S. Irish community as we know it and how happy we are to work in constructive ways with the Irish Government through their diplomatic corps. One area that the Embassy is involved with is Education Ireland (http://www.educationireland.com), an effort by Ireland to attract Irish Diaspora to obtain their college education in Ireland. The Embassy was pleased to hear about the AOH’s efforts over the years to support our own with Study Abroad Scholarships — grants of $1,000 per year. You should hear more about this from Bill Sullivan from MA in this edition. I encourage you to look into the possibility of having your children or grandchildren pursue higher education in Ireland. The tuition rates are very attractive compared with U.S. colleges and the experience for someone of Irish decent would be unmatched.

I attended the National President’s Dinner in Philadelphia and the conclusion (perhaps) of the 175th Anniversary of the AOH in America celebration. I was honored to visit numerous AOH Halls, from Trenton, NJ, to some half dozen in Philly itself. It is nice to know you have AOH family at these Halls and that you are always welcome at these Halls no matter where in the country they are located. I was extremely impressed with Clara Reilly, our 2011 MacBride recipient. Her speech about her quest for truth and justice in Northern Ireland was awe-inspiring. Congratulations to her and to Sean Pender for his tenacity in getting her here. President Boyle’s gala was impressive and I was pleased that many of the attendees made generous donations in his name to the Commodore John Barry Memorial Project. I believe that more than $13,000 was raised at the dinner — what a fitting tribute to Seamus at his final President’s dinner. I was also proud that two members of the Virginia AOH received their Life Membership approval at the National Board meeting. My good friend and Living Legend Pat Troy will soon don the tri-color ribbon. Also receiving from Virginia was Jeremiah Gorman. I only recently met Brother Gorman at the VA State Convention. I regret that another Virginia Brother and long time Hibernian John O’Neill Sr. was unable to receive the award; He passed away shortly before the meeting to vote.

I attended the DC State Convention and am proud to say that the Commodore himself — Ralph Day — had been elected State president. I am happy to report that we also have three officers on board who are under 30. They are young and hard working and dedicated AOH members all. Stay tuned for exciting things coming from the DC State Board in the future.

I also attended the Barry Memorial fundraiser in Annapolis organized by the Maryland Commodore Barry Division. A nice turnout by our MD brothers and a guest appearance of Ambassador Michael Collins and his wife, Marie, made for a grand evening in the state’s capital. The Beltway Bulldog, Jack O’Brien, was there working diligently (as always) — over $3,000 was raised.

On a sad note, we lost a great Hibernian, former national Director Jim Herlihy from Arlington, VA. Jim was born in Ireland and very dedicated to the AOH in northern Virginia and Washington, DC. He passed away at the age of 91.

If you have not heard, Certificates of Irish Heritage are now available for AOH members and all individuals of Irish decent. This is a new and important way in which the Irish Government wishes to acknowledge and appreciate the strong and enduring connection to Ireland felt by millions of people around the world. Certificate designs take their inspiration from our history and our land and provide the backdrop to a wonderful expression of Irish heritage and the legacy of Irish ancestors. For further information and details of how to apply, please go to www.heritagecertificate.ie.

Please feel free to contact me if you are coming to DC anytime soon – kcarney@fednet.net

Immigration

The past few months have been a flurry of activity regarding immigration. The AOH has always formed the basis of Irish-American support for positive legislation and adjudication on Irish issues and Immigration is no exception. The AOH Preamble states that the purpose of the AOH is “to encourage an equitable U.S. Immigration law for Ireland, and cooperate with all groups for a fair American immigration policy.

 

Starting with the National Board’s diplomatic meeting with the Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and his staff, President Boyle continues to make resolution to Irish immigration reform and Thar Saile top priorities for this Board. The cooperation we have received from fellow Hibernians and National Board members to these ends is gratifying.

 

National PEC Chair Ned McGinley and I joined Bruce Morrison (ILIR lobbyist), Stella O’Leary (Irish American Democrats) and Ciaran Staunton (ILIR) at a meeting in the West Wing of the White House. We let the White House know the Irish have done much to aid the war on terror and Homeland Security with the Shannon Stopover and U.S. customs and immigration enhancements at Irish airports should not go unrewarded. The Irish have long been ignored in the dialog in the national debate on immigration as focus and often anger is directed at all immigrants due to the issues at the U.S. southern border. The need for the E3 visa creating future flow of over 10,500 visas annually and methods to resolve the plight of the Irish undocumented were discussed with representatives of the White House and Homeland Security.

 

In a recent conversation with Bruce Morrison, he described a focal point of the Irish E3 argument; creating “a culture of compliance” to immigration laws by those who desire to live and work in the U.S. coupled combined with a fair, renewable quota of visas for participating nations. An amended E3 would provide a legal channel with indefinite renewal for Irish applicants and their spouses. He is also seeking an admissibility waiver to waive the 10-year bar for overstaying in the U.S. for applicants. This aspect, admittedly, proves to be a difficult sell but would clear the way for undocumented Irish to apply for the E3. Janet Napolitano and the White House recently unveiled their strategies for immigration reform. Should these policies be adopted the undocumented Irish would be included and allowed to live and work in the U.S. regardless of how they entered the country. We will follow these initiatives closely.

 

An Tánaiste Eammon Gilmore and a delegation of Irish Department of Foreign Affairs leadership, including Ambassador Michael Collins and Secretary General David Cooney, came to N.Y. recently for the U.N. General Assembly. As part of the Minister’s visit, a reception in the N.Y. Irish Consulate and meetings with the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers led by CIIC President Siobhan Dennehy (LAOH Division 18 Peekskill) and the ILIR, were held. On Sunday, as part of a visit to the Bronx office of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, EIIC Chairman Brian O’Dwyer, Mike Carroll (Brehon Law Society) and I met with An Tánaiste Gilmore and N.Y. Consul General Noel Kilkenny for a frank and productive dialog on Irish immigration initiatives and goals.

 

A follow-up meeting with Irish Embassy officials where Ned and I were joined by National Director Keith Carney and met with two recently arrived, leading Irish Embassy officials. At that meeting, we reiterated that the AOH will support legislation that includes a permanent solution for future flow for Irish immigrants as well as a solution for the Irish undocumented. There can be no doubt that our voice is being heard on our immigration concerns.

 

Thar Saile invited Sean Pender (National FFAI) and I to a meeting with Irish Consul General Gerry Staunton and to attend Thar Saile’s annual meeting. At these two very productive sessions, Sean and I were able to underline the AOH’s support for Thar Saile and recent developments on the cases will prove that our work was both timely and necessary. Matt Morrison, Thar Saile President, unable to attend his engagement as a speaker at the NYS FFAI Christmas Appeal fundraiser on October 13 at Harbour Lights Restaurant, credited the presence of two AOH National Board members, Sean Pender and myself, as key ingredients for the success of the two meetings. He sent a message to attendees at the National Board meeting and the NYS AOH fundraiser that much progress has been made in getting his work and travel permissions sorted.

 

I am grateful when members who make me aware of Irish immigrants in distress. On July 4th, NYS Secretary Tim McSweeney reported that a Derry man was incarcerated in Albany for a visa violation. A summer-long fight to get this man back to his wife and 2-year-old daughter and his B&B business in Derry ensued. Despite appeals from Irish President Mary McAleese (his relative) and many others in the Irish Nationalist and Derry community, he was held by the slow moving bureaucracy of ICE for nearly three months! Thanks to the efforts of Brother McSweeney and the cooperation of the N.Y. Consulate we were able to keep the man in communication with his family in Boston and in Derry. He and his family are now happily reunited and grateful for the support they received from the AOH. The nightmare of his long incarceration may be over but it clearly points out the need for our work and communication on immigration.

 

The time to get involved with these issues is now. I ask that you consider becoming your Division’s Immigration Chairman and contact me with any questions or concerns: Dan Dennehy, 22 Andre Lane, Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567, by email: dandennehy@hotmail.com or phone (914)588-2710.

 

Yours in Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,

Dan Dennehy

 

Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers www.ciic-usa.org

Emerald Isle Immigration Center www.eiic.org

Cross Care www.migrantproject.ie/emigrating_from_ireland_usa.htm

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform www.irishlobbyusa.org

Thar Saile www.tharsaile.org

Vice President’s Message

WE’VE MOVED!

In case you need to get in contact by means other than email:

Brendan Moore

25 Avner Lane

West Nyack, NY 10994

914-712-5463

 

THE MAJOR DEGREE

Once someone has joined the AOH, what really is the purpose or value of the Major Degree?  The Major Degree of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is an important component of who we are and what we are as an organization. The Degree ceremony itself must be seen and experienced as a journey towards greater and deeper awareness. It is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on and absorb the very purpose of being a Hibernian. As such, it is, indeed, a significant opportunity for all in attendance (candidates, Degreed observers, and even Major Degree Team members) to focus on why we call each other brother. And it should directly challenge each of us to pause and re-commit ourselves to the AOH’s ideal that our Hibernian Brothers stand at our side and on our side, truly caring for and about us.

With all of that in mind, I am providing below the details for upcoming Major Degrees, hoping that you will take the opportunity to participate.

 

DATE         TEAM                    LOCATION        CONTACT        PHONE           EMAIL

07-24-11     Brian Boru MDT    Richmond, VA      JJ Kelly              703-475-9415   IrishKnight@cox.net

10-02-11    Tara Court MDT     Worcester, MA      Dick Thompson 617 755 8467    rthomp521@comcast.net

10-09-11    Schenectady MDT  Schenectady, NY   Michael Glenn   518-505-3588    mglen2@nycap.rr.com

10-23-11    Tara Court MDT     Suffolk, NY           Walter Butler     631-736-2171

 

PRIDE AND ACCOMPLISHMENT  

June 29 brought a team of National Board members to Washington, DC, for a variety of purposes. The day was planned around an invitation to lunch with Irish Ambassador Michael Collins, who was anxious to promote communication with the AOH and provide an opportunity to share ideas, concerns, and reactions on a range of topics. While I am certain that this event will be alluded to elsewhere in this edition of the Digest, I would simply like to focus on my own perception.

I was quite proud of the manner in which we presented ourselves! In our listening and our speaking, we came across on the whole broad range of “Irish issues” as both truly committed and knowledgeable. Whether it was visas, the undocumented Irish, U.S. immigration legislation, tourism, the state of the Irish economy, the Six Counties, or future joint ventures with the Irish government, our team clearly articulated facts, impressions, and solutions. Great job, Brothers!

 

Immigration

Recently your National Board entered a new phase of intensity on the issues surrounding immigration reform. Led by President Seamus Boyle and organized by our National PEC Chairs Joe Roche and Ned McGinley, a delegation met with Members of Congress who were given an outline on our issues. The National Board also met with Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and Irish National Caucus President Fr. Sean McManus on a variety of issues.

As National Immigration Chairman, I have enjoyed speaking to AOH State Conventions in New Jersey and Ohio, along with my home state of NY. I have also worked with many young Irish people who contact members about J1 job placement and other issues. I am gratified to see the work of Linda Dyer Hart, who met with newly elected Rep. Mick Mulvaney as part of a South Carolina AOH delegation. These initial contacts with legislators often create lasting relationships and great cooperation. As many of our legislators are planning to be in their home Districts for the summer, this affords all informed AOH members an opportunity to approach them on several issues. Therefore, I have provided some:

TALKING POINTS ON IMMIGRATION – Ask the Legislator to consider a new bill to help with the inequity of why the Irish are not getting a fair shake and only received 1,678 green cards in 2010 of over 1 million issued.  The number 1,678 is a combined number for the Irish: some get visas through corporate sponsorship, most through the adjustment of status through marriage, and a very small number is from the DV lottery, less than 100! A total of 1,637 Irish-born became lawful permanent residents.  1,066 of Irish got green cards through an immediate relative (which is either sponsorship by marriage to a U.S. Citizen; a USC child over 21, or a USC parent if they are minor children).

HOMELAND SECURITY AND IRELAND – Ireland has been a great ally to the U.S. in the war against terror. Ireland welcomes our troops as they enter and exit the various theaters of conflict. Often the last, or first, friendly civilian face a soldier sees is in Shannon Airport.

Ireland, its ports and airports are also instrumental in aiding the development of customs and immigration innovations for Homeland Security and ICE. Australia and other countries have been rewarded with special immigration visas for their support of the U.S. in similar matters, now it should be Ireland’s turn.

THE PEACE DIVIDEND – The Good Friday Agreement should be used as a pretext for a visa for Irish people to come to the USA, a renewable E3 visa for rather than the current 3 months or 1 year of the “J” Program.  As I have mentioned in previous letters, similar program is working quite well in Canada according to Ray Bassett, Irish Ambassador to Canada. According to the Ambassador, Toronto is experiencing an “Irish Renaissance” in culture, sport and commerce thanks to the 5,000 annual visas allotted to the Irish.

The experience and goodwill generated by future flow of Irish from both Catholic and Protestant traditions to the U.S., would benefit the entire population, help to end negative perceptions from and towards both communities and bring a United Ireland closer to reality.

OUR IRISH AMERICAN AND CATHOLIC IDENTITY – Our culture and heritage as Irish Americans and Irish Catholic Americans depends on a flow of Irish born immigrants coming to the U.S. legally. In turn, the Irish learn our great democratic ways and  decide for themselves whether they would like to stay and become proud U.S. citizens or bring their experiences back to Ireland and continue to grow and enrich the amazing goodwill and bonds that our two nations have always shared.

PAST SUCCESS – The last time a visa specifically for the Irish was passed, The Morrison Visa, Irish America experienced a renaissance that we still feel the effects of today. Many of those 60,000 Morrison recipients returned to Ireland with what they had learned here and helped to create “The Celtic Tiger” and made Ireland an economic and cultural wonder.

One of the things that killed the Celtic Tiger was that the Morrison was a temporary fix and since 1995, Ireland has once again almost no legal path to immigration to the U.S.

TIME TO REPAIR THIS 44 YEAR LONG DISPARITY ONCE AND FOR ALL – In 1967, we lost a fixed quota of 18,000 annual visas to Ireland that disparity remains to this day! The Irish need a steady and renewable future flow of visas to continue to enrich the relationship between Ireland and the U.S. A modified E-3, an annual renewable visa could yield well over 100,000 visas for Irish people in the next decade.

A CONGRESSIONAL SUCCESS STORY – Encourage YOUR REPRESENTATIVES  to focus on the Congressional AdHoc Committee on Irish Affairs, a bi-partisan co-chaired by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), This 30 year old committee has been instrumental in aiding the AOH and other groups on many issues surrounding Ireland, like that of the detainees.

The AOH continues to work with Thar Saile (http://www.tharsaile.org) and Thar Saile President Matt Morrison. The men of Thar Saile were willing participants in the peaceful measures attained by the Good Friday Agreement yet, they remain in a bureaucratic limbo. The AOH is committed to working with Thar Saile and the interests of all former detainees, like our Brother Malachy McAllister and his family, who have yet to achieve green cards and U.S. citizenship and still await their PEACE DIVIDEND.

Finally, BECOME AN AOH IMMIGRATION CHAIRMAN FOR YOUR DIVISION, COUNTY AND STATE – The AOH Preamble states that the purpose of the AOH is “to encourage an equitable U.S. Immigration law for Ireland, and cooperate with all groups for a fair American Immigration Policy.” An immigration chair never uses the chair as a platform or “bully pulpit” to decry other ethnic groups use or abuse of U.S. immigration policy. Rather, become familiar with information about Dual Citizenship, Irish Heritage Certificates, education, career and retirement opportunities in Ireland, and advice on the visas currently available and future immigration legislation to aid future flow from Ireland, the undocumented Irish and put an end to the detainees long fight. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about immigration, citizenship or legislation at Dan Dennehy, 22 Andre Lane, Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567, by email: dandennehy@hotmail.com or phone (914) 588-2710.

 

Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers www.ciic-usa.org

Emerald Isle Immigration Center www.eiic.org

Cross Care www.migrantproject.ie/emigrating_from_ireland_usa.htm

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform www.irishlobbyusa.org

Thar Saile www.tharsaile.org

President’s Message

Brothers, another edition of the Digest is upon us and I can’t believe where the time has gone since the last edition. I was pleased that I could attend an anniversary of the John Cardinal O’Connor Division 32 in Belmar NJ. The festivities were held in Doolan’s Shore Club in Spring Lake Heights NJ honoring Kevin Weldon and Bill Young both great workers for the AOH of New Jersey.

I left Spring Lake and went home only for a few hours and caught a train to Washington DC to attend the right to life march and to meet with the Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. The AOH was well represented with members from numerous states attending. Prior to the march, there was a breakfast at the Phoenix Park Hotel, sponsored by the AOH Divisions of DC and was very well attended also.

New Jersey State President and National Director Jere Cole and I met at the Irish Embassy with Ambassador Michael Collins. Over the past three years I have met with the Ambassador to get briefed on the state of Ireland on both sides of the border and Mr. Collins has been very appreciative of what the AOH has done and continues to do for Ireland. It is a great privilege for me to be able to sit down with him and tell him what we, as an organization, would like to see the Irish Government do for Irish America. He is also very interested in what the Irish Government can do to help the Irish American community and to find out what our needs and wants are. While I was there Mr. Collins set up a meeting in Dublin for our group who would be going to Ireland for the Bloody Sunday March at the end of January.

After the snow storms and cold in the Northeast I was glad to get to the warmer climate in Ireland, temperature in the 40’s, and made my way to Derry for the Bloody Sunday march.  On Saturday evening as usual the Mass was celebrated at the home of AOH Div 1, Derry, and again the hall was packed. Following the Mass, the distribution of the Christmas appeal checks were given to the recipients and many of those who received thanked the AOH and expanded on their organizations goals and plans for the future. It is really heartwarming to see how much these people appreciate our efforts and how happy they are to receive the help from our members in America.

Sunday, January 30th was the39th Bloody Sunday March, possibly the last march, but not the last of the remembrance of that day 39 years ago. Many of the families of those killed and injured, whom we have met over the years, have told us that if it were not for the AOH, they do not believe that the Saville Inquiry would have been completed. The people who attended from the states was somewhere between 70 and 100 and the crowd at the march itself was the biggest that ever marched. The weather was with us although it was cold but not as cold as the weather we left behind on the east coast. The remembrance at the memorial on Sunday morning was very well attended and a pastor from the local protestant church was one of the speakers. I had a chance to speak with John Hume (who is ill at the moment) and also Martin McGuinness, at the memorial in the Bogside and later in the day met up with Gerry Adams at the beginning of the march. The route of the march this year was the same route taken on the day of the march in 1972 and ended with a huge crowd and numerous speakers at the Guildhall Square where the march ended. Speaking with many of the people after the march it seems that even if it is discontinued, the people will still come and have the ceremony at the monument in the years to come. As one of the speakers said it is not finished yet, those killers in the parachute regiment have never been charged and when that happens it will bring closure.

I had made arrangements previously for a group on the tour to visit a new memorial in South Armagh honoring all our freedom fighters that lost their lives over the past 40 years in the war for freedom. What a tribute to these soldiers who gave their all to try to free our homeland. The vision of the people who were responsible for this beautiful monument should be commended for the hard work and dedication in erecting and maintaining it into the future. The backdrop of a mountain and some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in Ireland makes this monument even more attractive as well as remembering all those who lost their lives in Ireland’s name. If anyone wishes to see and contribute to this monument you can go to www.southarmaghmemorialgarden.com Buy a brick for $50 and help defray the cost of this beautiful monument. If you need further information you can contact me.

After the tour I left Armagh and headed south for Dublin as I mentioned earlier in my report, Ambassador Michael Collins set up a meeting with Niall Burgess who is the Director General of The Anglo-Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs, at his office in Inveigh House in St Stevens Green in the center of Dublin. We met with Niall and some of his staff who brought us up to speed on the economy in Ireland, both north and south, as well as the Irish Government’s stance on issues such as immigration reform and other issues which we are also interested in. After meeting with our small group the rest of the tour were invited to a reception in the banquet room. Food and refreshments were provided as well as having the chance to speak with many of the other Government officials who were there. We also met with John Hennessey-Niland from the United States Embassy who assured us that his boss, Ambassador Rooney, would have been there but there seemed to be a conflict as he is the owner of the Pittsburg Steelers and he had a more important engagement that weekend, I believe it had something to do with the Super Bowl. We had a great meeting and tour of the building which was originally owned by the Guinness family. I would like to thank both Ambassador Collins and Niall Burgess for their hospitality.

I left Dublin after the tour to attend the kick off campaign of Gerry Adams in the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk County Louth where he is a candidate for the Dail. The hotel was packed to capacity and the speakers were tremendous. It was the first time I had heard the newly elected Pearse Doherty, Donegal, speak and what a dynamite speaker his is. The list of speakers kept the crowd on their feet most of the evening and if that crowd was any indication of the newly elected Government officials, then Gerry Adams is well on his way to Dublin. After 10 days in Ireland and a very busy schedule I was ready to come home, even if it was a lot colder in Philadelphia.

I attended Montgomery County annual communion breakfast where the guest speaker was William Watson, the man who is spearheading the Duffy’s Cut project. He showed a very interesting slide presentation including a narration on the 57 Irish Immigrants who are buried there in a mass grave, how he became involved in this project, why he is so involved in finalizing the fate of the 57 and what led up to his interest about the people who died there. I also attended a fundraiser at Immaculata University to help raise funds to see his work completed. The fundraiser was a complete sell out and the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins, was in attendance and addressed the crowd.

In conclusion I attended a meeting in New York City at the Basilica of Old St Patrick’s to finalize the 175th anniversary celebration for May 21st 2011. The meeting was called by our chairman of the 175th anniversary committee, Ed Wallace. Approximately 15 people attended and most of the issues were resolved and will appear in this edition of the Digest. Anyone who plans on attending are asked to email shay39@comcast.net with the name and number of people attending and whether they will be there Friday night or Saturday morning as we need a head count for the reception afterwards.

A rough agenda for the festivities includes about a half mile parade that will begin at Mulberry St North of Canal St and march to the Basilica of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral, Mott & Prince St.  Mass in the Basilica at 11AM which will be followed by a reception in the adjoining Youth Center at the Basilica. As was mentioned in the last digest, we are asking all Division, County and State Boards to celebrate our 175th anniversary in your own areas throughout the year. This is the year for state board conventions and we ask that each convention celebrate the anniversary at their conventions; speaking about conventions, please let us know when and where your convention is so we can have a national board presence there if possible, please send this information to me at shay39@comcast.net.

Brothers, the next edition of the Digest will have all the St. Patrick’s Day parades, parties, news and the list of the States, cities and towns who celebrated Irish American Heritage Month. We will also see a list of people whom we had to inform of our displeasure with their so-called St Patrick’s season in bad taste. This does not stop at St. Patrick’s Day but people seem to think they can defame and make fun of the Irish and our Catholic religion, please let us know when you see this happen in your area so we can handle it appropriately. President Obama has proclaimed March as Irish American heritage Month once again and this marks the 10 straight years that March has been proclaimed Irish American Heritage Month by a United States President, Hope we can get it permanently this year.

Thank you and have a great spring and summer.

Historical Happenings

When last we met, no one could have predicted that John Hume would be chosen as the Greatest Man in Irish History.  We knew he was an integral part in the movement toward peace in Northern Ireland, and we applauded his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, but to beat out Michael Collins and James Connolly, not to mention Mary Robinson and Bono who also did their share toward peace, is quite a feat.  The RTE poll was a country-wide referendum and we believe it shows just how much the Irish people value peace.  It is a great tribute to a great man, congratulations John.

Congrats also to the Irish company, Mincon, a leading manufacturer of rock-drilling equipment, based in Co. Clare, which designed and created the drill that penetrated 2,296.56-feet of rock and allowed the rescue of the trapped miners.  Funny, that wasn’t mentioned in the press!

The historian’s office is presently preparing a history update of our great Order.  In 1986, Historian John Ridge wrote a comprehensive history of the AOH from its founding in 1836 to its 150th anniversary in his landmark book Erin’s Sons in America. We will be presenting information on the pre-1836 events that led to its founding as well as the accomplishment in the 25 years since the 150th anniversary.  With the help of other past national and state historians, we will also correct some misconceptions about our roots.  Over the years, glowing accounts of our origins have been penned by complimenting authors.  These well-meaning writers have extolled the glories of our race and demonstrated their pride in our Order for keeping those glories alive.  Quite naturally, they emphasized association with ancient heroes and deeds to justify that pride and enhance its significance in the reader’s memory.  However, enthusiasm can foster exaggeration which, in retelling, may lead to assumptions that influence misinformation.  When it does and it gets repeated by successive generations of modern authors, whose intentions are no less honorable, an inaccurate account can inadvertently evolve.

Attempting to promote the Order and satisfy the curious with only the available histories at hand, this office has also been guilty in years past of repeating some of the misleading information found in earlier writings.  However, continued study uncovered contradictions within those early accounts and between those accounts and recent research.  Those anomalies led to questions.  Since a true history must be based on primary source data, the National Board under Presidents Gilligan and McGinley, authorized an in-depth study of our origins with the assistance of dedicated and knowledgeable researchers, both within and outside the Order.  Many will be surprised to learn that the AOH was not born in Ireland, but in America; that there was no one on the hill of Tara in the 18th century carrying an AOH membership card; that the AOH was not founded in New York, but simultaneously in New York and Pennsylvania.  All that and more will be revealed in the history being prepared for the 175th anniversary publication.  Further, for the first time, individual Divisions and Boards will be given the opportunity to either sponsor a page of this history or to add a history of their own group as a supplement to the overall presentation; some of you have great stories to tell.  See the story on the 175th anniversary in this issue for how to include your own information.

The legendary artist, Edmund Sullivan, has developed an extraordinary plan to expand his heartfelt love of Ireland by sharing his remarkable talent.  He is imparting his skills, learned during a lifetime of capturing the beauty of the Irish landscape, to a new generation of artists who will bring the beauty of Erin into the homes of those wishing to relive memories – real or imagined.  To fund this goal, he will share his entire inventory of framed, canvas-print paintings at an exceptionally reduced cost with AOH divisions who will act as a partner.  A commission of up to 1/3 of the price will go to the selling group.  Interested divisions can call Edmund at 1-800-445-8734 for a wholesale price catalog and more information.

The Father William Corby Division of Fairfax Station, VA, commemorated the 100th anniversary of Father Corby’s statue on the Gettysburg battlefield on October 29th.  The good father was the incredibly courageous chaplain of the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War.  He rode alongside General Meagher on the front line at Antietam blessing the troops amid enemy fire, but is best known for his action at Gettysburg.  In his autobiography he wrote,  At about four o’clock the Confederates commenced firing, and one hundred and twenty cannon from their side belched forth from their fiery throats missiles of death into our lines…The proportions of the pending crash seemed so great that even veterans who had often ‘smelled powder’ quailed at the thought of the final conflict. The Third Corps were pressed back, and at this critical moment I proposed to give a general absolution. Though Fr. Corby modestly wrote nothing more about that day, Maj. Gen. St. Clair Mulholland described what happened next when Father Corby stood up on a huge rock, as the shells were falling, to bless his men. The Chaplain of this brigade, Rev. William Corby, proposed to give a general absolution to all the men before going into the fight. While this is customary in the armies of Catholic countries in Europe, it was perhaps the first time it was ever witnessed on this continent. A copy of this statue stands on the campus of the University of Notre Dame where Father Corby became the 3rd President of the School.  Students refer to it as “Fair-Catch Corby”, after its resemblance to a football player raising his arm to give a fair-catch signal.  Congrats to the Father Corby Division; that’s keeping the tradition alive.

Check out this month’s histories on AOH.COM and NYAOH.COM and do your part to Keep the Tradition Alive!

Michael Collins

I’m absolutely delighted to be here today at the 2010 Biennial National Conference of the AOH and the LAOH.  I want to thank your National President and our good friend Seamus Boyle for inviting me here.  Our Consul General in Chicago will also be with you during these days.  I would like also to salute and acknowledge the presence of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Despite its long history and early beginnings, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is an integral part of Irish America.  Although the challenges we face are new and ever changing, the Order has an importance today just as it had 174 years ago.  The roots of this organisation can be traced back to some of the darkest hours in Irish history – A time when freedom was more an idea than a reality.  Today our country is at peace and our fortunes greatly improved, but the work of this Order goes on, particular on this side of the Atlantic.

We salute you for your commitment and support of Ireland.  I particularly applaud the solidarity of the AOH with the Bloody Sunday families.  You have long supported the families and survivors of Bloody Sunday and rightfully share in their joy that those who died and were injured were innocent. The Saville Report on 15 June makes clear that the shootings by the British Army that day were “unjustified and unjustifiable”. Thus, for the families and after 38 years, the gaping wound of the injustice wrought by the Widgery Report was healed.

AOH involvement in education programs to ensure a greater appreciation of Ireland’s National heritage is a welcome priority. I was delighted to present at the awards last year at the National History Day.

The Good Friday Agreement is the bedrock of the precious peace that Ireland enjoys today.  Its great strength derives from its endorsement by the people North and South.  The recent election results in Northern Ireland were a ringing endorsement for those wanting to work together in the devolved institutions for the benefit of all the people.  We now have a unique opportunity to build sustained peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland. Today, Northern Ireland enjoys partnership Government and the various institutional structures of the Agreement are all in effect.

There has been a transformation of relations on the island of Ireland and also between Britain and Ireland.  The Taoiseach met with Prime Minister Cameron on 23 June at which the PM confirmed that the British Government was fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement.  Just last Monday there was a meeting in Dublin of the North South Ministerial Council chaired by the Taoiseach and the First and deputy First Minister. The Council is a vital part of the Good Friday Agreement architecture and provides the forum for Ministerial colleagues from North and South to address the key issues of the moment. And on Monday obviously the economic challenges that we all face were centre stage.

The devolution of Policing and Justice earlier this year marks an important milestone in fulfilling the full vision of the Good Friday Agreement. Ten years on from the Patten Report the responsibility and authority for policing and justice are now where they ought to be – at local level, accountable to and operating for the benefit of all the community.

There remain those who refuse to accept the will of the people. We deplore the acts of these dissidents and we are committed North and South to defeating them.  The work of reconciliation is a generational task. I welcome the ongoing support of the U.S. in helping us to underpin peace in Ireland, including through the International Fund for Ireland.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that Ireland has challenges of its own right now. Ireland, like most countries, has gone through a period of economic turbulence. However, the Government has taken the hard decisions necessary to deal with the effects of the global economic and financial crisis by stabilising our public finances, repairing our banking system and cutting costs to boost competitiveness. We are pursuing a detailed and well-planned strategy to ensure our economic recovery into the future.  It is evident that we are living through tough and difficult times, but we are meeting challenges head on and we will emerge stronger than before.  The U.S. is a key economic partner and foreign direct investment from here is vital to our economy.  But our economic relationship is also now a two way one reflecting the increasing investment by Irish companies in the U.S.  The Farmleigh Global Irish Economic Forum last September was an important initiative of the Irish Government to engage with our global family in a new and modern way. It has proven to be very successful.  We have also been engaged in a strategic review of our relationship and last year published the result of that review entitled “Ireland and America – Challenges and Opportunities in a new context”.

We say this is the year to come home to Ireland.  Tourism from the U.S. is very important to us.  I welcome the comments made by President Obama last Thursday in which he called for renewed efforts in establishing comprehensive immigration reform. The President stated it was time to “squarely confront our challenges with honesty and determination”. I would like to acknowledge the work and support of the AOH in this area. It is very important for our undocumented that this issue is resolved.  It is also important for us that we secure future flows through what we call the E3 programme.

I want to thank the Ancient Order of Hibernians for their work and their friendship. In you we have a formidable partner, and with you at our side we know that Ireland, and its people, will continue to flourish both at home and abroad.

Thank you.

Book Buys

Even if you’re not from Limerick, you will enjoy the richly illustrated book entitled Bygone Limerick. It is a photographic record of everyday life in one of Ireland loveliest counties in the early 20th century.  In a journey through time to an era when life was slower and more gentle, this portrait includes photos of historic and scenic towns and villages in ‘then and now’ side by side photos as well as famous and near-famous personalities such as JFK, Eamon DeValera, Michael Collins and others.  From the flying boat sea-planes at Foynes piloted by Charlie Blair, husband of Maureen O’Hara to the great power works at Ardnacrusha, this is Limerick at its technological best in the midst of never-changing rural enchantment.   Compiled and written by freelance journalist Hugh Oram who has contributed to more than 50 publications, Bygone Limerick is published by Mercier Press, Cork and available on line.