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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
November 10, 2004
News 11/10/04 - SF: Paisley Must Face Reality
News about Ireland & the Irish
SM 11/10/04 Paisley Must Face Reality, Says Sinn Fein
BB 11/10/04 Weapons Estimates 'Under Review'
BT 11/10/04 Police Chief: Time Not Right To Go To Service
BT 11/10/04 Man Arrested In Connection With Loyalist Murder
BT 11/10/04 Jesse Jackson To Visit Belfast
IE 11/10/04 Report On Ardoyne Clashes Sparks Quarrel
SF 11/10/04 Racism Must Be Effectively Addressed - McDonald
BT 11/10/04 Loyalist T-Shirt Sparked Knife Attack, Court Told
UT 11/10/04 NI Smoking Ban Appeal V
IE 11/10/04 Adams Cites Mixed Results
SW 11/10/04 Take The Troubles And Wrap A Story Round Them
NY 11/10/04 Back Home In Ireland, Greener Pastures
RT 11/10/04 Expert Plays Down vCJD Risks 2 VO
NW 11/10/04 Artist Finds Inspiration In West Cork -VO
Expert Plays Down vCJD Risks
Fergal Bowers, Health Correspondent, reports on the reaction to the
confirmation of the first indigenous vCJD case in Ireland
Anne Marie Smith reports on the controls in place to protect Irish
UK Artist Finds Inspiration In The Landscape Of West Cork - Rowan
Hand reports from the Beara Peninsula in west Cork on the work of
the artist John Kingerlee
Paisley Must Face Reality, Says Sinn Fein
By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor
The Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists should enter the 21st
century and face political reality, Gerry Adams said tonight.
After meetings with US President George Bush's special envoy to
Northern Ireland, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, and Senator Edward
Kennedy in Washington, the Sinn Fein leader said the Good Friday
Agreement could not be put on hold while the DUP struggled to come
to terms with change.
The West Belfast MP said: " The impasse at this time in the talks
process is the DUP failure to accept the fundamentals of the Good
Friday Agreement and their failure to accept nationalists and
republicans on the basis of equality. In particular they have
targeted the power-sharing and all Ireland principles of the
" The core issues were negotiated and agreed in the Good Friday
Agreement. There will be no going back on these positions. That is
the new political reality which the DUP has to come to terms with.
The pro-Agreement majority cannot be expected to stand still while
the DUP edge their way into the 21st century. The DUP's refusal to
engage and to accept the reality of the Good Friday Agreement
cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change."
Mr Adams was commenting as British and Irish officials worked on
proposals which will be put to the Northern Ireland parties to
attempt to break the political deadlock.
After the Leeds Castle talks in Kent in September, Prime Minister
Tony Blair said he believed the Provisional IRA was preparing
groundbreaking moves on disarmament and future paramilitary
It is believed that full weapons decommissioning, by the end of
this year, was on the negotiating table.
But the IRA's offer has been put on hold while unionists and
nationalists try to sort out differences over future power sharing.
The DUP has been pressing for greater ministerial accountability in
a future devolved executive, with ministers answerable to cabinet
colleagues and to the Assembly.
Mark Durkan's nationalist SDLP and Sinn Fein have accused Mr
Paisley's party of using this argument to secure a veto over the
work of other power-sharing ministers.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP have also opposed suggestions to change how
the First and Deputy First Ministers are elected.
They have alleged that the DUP is trying to water down and limit
the scope of cross-border co-operation between Stormont and Irish
Mr Paisley has been angered by recent remarks from Irish Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern that the parties are tantalisingly close to a
deal and it would be a tragedy if they were unable to reach
Mr Ahern suggested that if a deal cannot be struck by the end of
this month, it could be 2006 before the parties can come back to
the negotiating table.
Mr Paisley warned last night that the DUP would not sign up to a
ragbag of a deal.
And he accused the Irish Prime Minister of hypocrisy over his
party's refusal to enter into government with Sinn Fein in the
Irish Republic, while urging unionists to share power with them at
Weapons Estimates 'Under Review'
General John de Chastelain is reviewing his estimates of IRA weapon
stockpiles ahead of any deal on decommissioning and devolution,
according to sources.
The Canadian General, who is the head of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), has the task of
overseeing the removal of paramilitary weapons from Northern
In the political arena, Sinn Fein and the DUP still disagree over
whether any future act of IRA disarmament should have a "visual
BBC political editor Mark Devenport says that, in the meantime,
General De Chastelain is believed to be trying to compile an
accurate inventory of IRA arms.
On Monday, Irish premier Bertie Ahern gave his strongest hint yet
that complete IRA disarmament is on the agenda as part of the
current negotiations aimed at restoring devolution.
But given the lack of trust on all sides, even if a deal is
brokered, there could be controversy over precisely how many guns
and explosives are in the IRA's arsenal.
When the IICD began its work, it relied on estimates from the
British and Irish governments compiled from their own intelligence
sources and information supplied by the Libyan authorities.
However one political source told the BBC, the General has not been
waiting around for a call from the IRA.
It said he has been busy reviewing his estimates of the IRA's
One insider said it was logical to assume the General and his
colleagues would be seeking to establish with the IRA's
representative whether the paramilitaries agreed with the estimates
the International Commission is already using.
Despite speculation over the years, only the IRA knows the true
extent of its arsenal.
It is believed the organisation's weaponry includes 500 to 1,000
AK47 rifles, at least 2.5 tonnes of Semtex explosive and an array
of heavy and medium machine guns and RPG7 rocket launchers.
Security sources believe the IRA received surface to air missiles
from Libya but these weapons were not used in IRA operations,
despite some test firing exercises.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/10 19:47:14 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Police Chief: Time Not Right To Go To Service
By Sarah Brett
10 November 2004
Londonderry's police chief today revealed he seriously considered
attending a civic remembrance service planned by the city's Sinn
Superintendent Richard Russell said he thought about attending the
service organised by Gerry O'hEara "even in a private capacity" but
concluded "the time was not right".
On December 10, the first all-inclusive event to commemorate all
lost lives regardless of background, era, faith or circumstance,
will be held in Derry's Guildhall Square.
Mr O'hEara, who conceived the idea, said he was "disappointed" by
Mr Russell's reaction.
Mr Russell said he had mixed feelings about a police presence at
the event, and that he thought about going along in a private
capacity, but then decided against that course.
"In making this decision I took into consideration the potential
hurt to the relatives of RUC officers murdered in Derry, some of
whom are working in Foyle as police officers and support staff.
"I am fully supportive of the process of reconciliation and
community healing and understand that all victims of the Troubles
have relatives who grieve for the people they loved.
"Northern Ireland has moved on and I look forward to the day when
we can all reflect on the deaths of over 3,300 people and ask
ourselves if today's position could have been reached without such
a tragic loss of life."
Man Arrested In Connection With Murder
By Ciaran O'Neill
10 November 2004
A man was arrested today in connection with the recent murder of a
22-year-old Londonderry man.
The 26-year-old was arrested in the Coleraine area this morning by
detectives investigating the murder of Darren Thompson on September
A number of other people have already been questioned in connection
with Mr Thompson's murder which, it was claimed last week, was
carried out by a loyalist paramilitary group.
Mr Thompson, whose girlfriend is expecting their first child, was
shot in the head at Woodburn Park in Kilfennan as he made his way
to work at Altnagelvin Hospital.
The young construction worker, from nearby Harkness Gardens, died
two days later.
It was originally believed his murder may have been linked to a
feud between the UDA and UVF.
However, in the wake of the murder, the two paramilitary
organisations released a joint statement, claiming that no feud
existed and blaming a dispute between individual loyalists.
But the Independent Monitoring Commission, which assesses the level
of threat posed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, last week
claimed Mr Thompson's murder was carried out by a paramilitary
In its latest report, the IMC blamed an unspecified loyalist group
for the killing, the most recent paramilitary murder to take place
in Northern Ireland.
Jesse Jackson To Visit Belfast
By Ashleigh Wallace
10 November 2004
One of America's most famous civil rights advocates is making his
first ever trip to Belfast this week where he will attend a series
Rev Jesse Jackson will be in Belfast this Thursday at the
invitation of the Andersonstown News Group.
The firebrand cleric will be visiting Meanscoil Feirste, the Irish
language college, at Beechmount House in west Belfast.
He is also due to meet community leaders in the east of the city
before heading back to Beechmount Leisure Centre where he is
expected to look at the remembering quilts created by members of
the Relatives for Justice group.
Rev Jackson is also expected to attend the Aisling Awards being
held in the Europa Hotel on Thursday evening.
This year's awards will have a special focus on ethnic communities
Report On Ardoyne Clashes Sparks Quarrel
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST -- There was outrage within the nationalist enclave of
Ardoyne after a report produced by two human- rights advisers to the
Policing Board supported the police decision to allow a large group
of loyalists through the area last July. Both the SDLP and Sinn
Fein were highly critical of the report, which argued that the
police had no alternative but to allow the loyalist followers of an
Orange parade to march through Ardoyne, in apparent contravention
of a Parades Commission ruling.
The report, however, did say it was critical that a judge?s
interpretation of the law on parading be clarified before next
year?s marching season to prevent a repetition of July?s events
when serious violence flared after the loyalist parade.
Nigel Dodds, the North Belfast DUP MP, however, welcomed the
report, which he said "cleared police of blame" over the incidents
at Ardoyne on July 12. "The Parades Commission needs to examine
itself and its bizarre and illogical decisions. I repeat my call
for its abolition,? he said.
"I hope that all those concerned will now abandon attempts to
demonize and destroy the Orange Order and the right of their
supporters to process lawfully along a public highway,? Dodds said.
Commissioned by the Policing Board, the report was researched and
written by the Board's human rights advisors, Keir Starmer and Jane
The report concluded that the policing operation was carefully
planned and that the human-rights implications of all the key
decisions taken were considered at every stage.
Following a High Court ruling on July 9 that had the effect of
removing supporters from the control mechanisms of the Parades
Commission, the authors concluded this would have "a profound and
detrimental effect" on the policing parades in the future.
They advise that it is critical that the ?implications of this are
fully realized and resolved as soon as possible," said the Policing
Board, calling on the British government to take whatever steps are
necessary to resolve this situation ahead of next year's parade
The report was labeled a "whitewash" by Sinn Fein, which objected
to the loyalist followers-on being allowed to parade past the
Ardoyne flashpoint. Senior Sinn Fein figures had prevented further
violence by trying to calm nationalists.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said, "The report simply rubber stamps the
police operation which forced an anti- Catholic mob through Catholic
areas and will cause further anger and offence within the broad
He said his party had predicted that the report was "simply a
device aimed at taking pressure off the SDLP leadership in the face
of mounting criticism from within their own ranks over their
continuing support for this sort of failed policing.
The SDLP's Alex Attwood said that the report was deeply flawed and
that the Policing Board had only noted it, not accepted it. "Not
only has the report got important issues of law wrong, it is also
inaccurate because it does not identify the involvement of people
associated with the UDA who were carrying paramilitary flags,? he
This story appeared in the issue of November 10-16, 2004
To write a letter to the editor, click here. Please include your
name, address and a day-time phone number for verification.
Scourge Of Racism Must Be Effectively Addressed - Mary Lou McDonald
Published: 10 November, 2004
Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald today issued a statement
urging people to stand with ethnic minority communities and against
the scourge of racism. The Sinn Féin MEP said ÂSinn Féin is
committed to tackling all forms of racism and building an inclusive
and multicultural IrelandÂ.
Ms McDonald was speaking after racist attacks in Belfast and Co
Armagh yesterday, and follows the publication of a report which
shows that the last six months have seen the single largest number
of racist attacks since records were kept in 2001.
Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:
"The recent report by the National Consultative Committee on Racism
and Interculturalism (NCCRI), has clearly shown that within the
past six months there has been a worrying upsurge in the reported
incidents of racist attacks in Ireland. These statistics are borne
out by the attacks on our streets. Only yesterday there were two
reported racist attacks in both Belfast and Lurgan.
"We are witnessing a consistently high level of violence against
some of the most vulnerable groups within Irish society. Let us be
clear - the racists must be faced down. Recent attacks are only the
tip of the iceberg, as many incidents are not reported. Racist
attacks are now happening at such an alarming rate that sections of
society are becoming blasé to the plight of ethnic minority
"Condemning racist attacks is not enough. We need to actively work
for the removal of racism from our society. This requires action as
much as words. It requires adequate resourcing and support for
ethnic minority communities and their support groups. And it
requires meaningful partnerships between all sections of society.
"Sinn Féin is committed to tackling all forms of racism and
building a multicultural Ireland. We must stand with ethnic
communities throughout Ireland in solidarity with them and against
the narrow-minded racists." ENDS
Note to Editor: Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, will
be speaking tonight at a rally to address the racist attacks on
homes in North Belfast. The rally follows a number of homes of
ethnic minorities having sectarian graffiti daubed on their walls
and cars and will give the local community a chance to show their
support for the victims of these attacks.
Other speakers will include a member of the North Belfast Anti
Racism Network and a member of the Filipino community.
The rally will take place at 7:30pm on Wednesday the 10th of
November at the Fortwilliam Shops on the Antrim Road.
Loyalist T-Shirt Sparked Knife Attack, Court Told
10 November 2004
A woman slashed a man's face with a kitchen knife because he was
wearing a loyalist T-shirt, it was alleged in the High Court today.
A UVF emblem and the Red Hand of Ulster were printed on the shirt,
said a Crown lawyer, objecting to a bail application by Margaret
Donaghy (39), from Jamaica Street, Belfast.
She denied causing grievous bodily harm to the man when they were
residing in a hostel at Bradbury Place, Belfast, last July.
Barrister Sheena Mahaffey said the man told police there was an
argument between him and Donaghy because of the T-shirt he was
Defence counsel John Hunter said Donaghy acknowledged she had an
Lord Justice Nicholson released her on bail on condition that she
undergoes treatment in a special unit.
See Scotland to legislate for smoking ban - Brian O'Connell, London
Editor, reports from Scotland
NI Smoking Ban Appeal -V
Ministers in Northern Ireland were under pressure tonight to follow
the example of the Scottish Executive and announce a ban on smoking
in public places.
At the same time MPs were told to get their support behind pressure
to introduce legislation at Westminster.
The Ulster Cancer Foundation urged Secretary of State Paul Murphy
and Health Minister Angela Smith to "act decisively".
The charity said ending smoking in workplaces and enclosed public
places would be "the single most effective action" the Government
could do to protect non-smokers and encourage more smokers to quit.
Gerry McElwee, head of cancer prevention at the UCF, said: "Smoking
is the largest single cause of preventable death and ill health in
our society today, killing 2,800 people in Northern Ireland every
He said the decision taken in Edinburgh put Scotland at the head of
a growing international movement to control the damage tobacco did
It was now time for Northern Ireland ministers to show the same
determination as their Scottish colleagues, the charity said.
The UCF also demanded Northern Ireland`s MPs support a new Early
Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on the British
government to include smokefree legislation in the forthcoming
Public Health White Paper.
Mr McElwee said: "To date 64 MPs have signed this EDM with only
four local MPs lending their support.
"We have met our local MPs at party conferences and they have said
that they support our campaign to introduce healthy smokefree
workplaces in Northern Ireland.
"We demand their signatures of support urgently as this may be our
last chance to influence this vital piece of policy."
Sinn Fein`s health spokesman, Upper Bann Assembly member John
O`Dowd also welcomed the Scottish decision to follow the Republic.
He said: "This move from the Scottish parliament adds even greater
pressure on direct rule Health Minister Angela Smith to get her act
Ms Smith had the ability to publish a consultation document now and
so begin laying the groundwork for the introduction of smoking
legislation, he said.
The medical evidence could not be ignored, he said, adding: "Angela
Smith is running out of excuses."
He said it was not good enough to avoid the issue because Health
Secretary John Reid didn`t want to protect the rights of workers,
"It is time that NIO direct rule ministers got on with the job ,"
It was also vital that the minister handled the introduction of a
ban properly by starting a process of dialogue with the relevant
bodies including health practitioners, local politicians and
representatives of the business and hospitality trade.
Adams Cites Mixed Results
By Stephen McKinley
Though he may not appreciate the comparison, Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams came across as if he was a chairman delivering his
corporate annual report at the Sheraton Hotel last Thursday, at the
annual New York Friends of Sinn Fein dinner. Speaking to the room
of about 1,000 supporters, Adams acknowledged the event as a now
familiar one, "me giving you a report."
Results were mixed, Adams said, but on the whole, positive, because
of significant electoral gains, and where progress has stalled in
the Northern Ireland peace process, it was stalled because of
roadblocks that had been expected and opposition that came from the
same old brakes on progress: unionist intransigence.
First, however, Adams asked once for Irish America's help, as Sinn
Fein leaders have done since the early days of the party that has
held up the goal of Irish freedom through terrible years as well as
jubilant ones. Adams was well aware that his visit came right after
this years' divisive U.S. presidential election, which saw
Republican President George W. Bush returned to the White House in
triumph over his challenger, Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry,
with whom nationalists had hoped to see a greater engagement with
the peace process than what they said President Bush had shown in
his first administration.
Adams paid tribute to both candidates and noted that it was the
shared interest in Ireland that brought Irish Americans, both
Republican and Democrat, together.
The prize is still there to be grasped, Adams said, Irish unity is
a goal closer than ever before and Irish Americans would share in
the achievement because of their long concern for the homeland.
It was 1905 when Sinn Fein was founded, and ideas must be exchanged
as to how to celebrate the party's centenary. What was required was
"a year of repopularizing the Irish republican struggle," Adams
said, and also pointed to another anniversary, a time for
commemoration, not celebration, when in 2006 Sinn Fein will
remember the hunger strikers' 25th anniversary: "10 of our bravest
Significant political gains were made during election time, crowned
by Sinn Fein taking two European Parliament seats in the European
elections: Bairbre de Brun and Mary Lou McDonald both triumphed.
"There have been setbacks," Adams said, blending the important
items of news for his audience into a call for Irish America to
remain positive yet watchful.
The currently suspended institutions in the North were "a recipe
for ongoing uncertainty," Adams said. And he accused the British
government of stalling on basic rights and guarantees for
nationalists and republicans. There was still the classic failed
tactic of upholding the Union, Adams said, while trying to
modernize what everyone knew was a failed state.
The British government, Adams continued, has a responsibility to
challenge "rejectionist unionism," by which Adams made clear he
meant the hard-line politics of the Rev. Ian Paisley's Democratic
Unionist Party, which also grew in electoral strength this year and
became the dominant Unionist party.
While struggling against this, Adams said that there had to be an
acknowledgement by nationalists and republicans that unionists felt
real fears about a united Ireland.
"None of this has been easy," Adams said, then, after a pause,
added, "but who ever said it would be easy to change the centuries
of racism that underpinned the Union with Ireland?" The reference
drew applause from his audience.
Adams's fundraising trip saw a slightly different schedule than
before, said Larry Downes of Friends of Sinn Fein. About $600,000
was raised for Sinn Fein so far, he said, though the final amount
was not yet tallied.
This story appeared in the issue of November 10-16, 2004
Take The Troubles And Wrap A Story Round Them
Award-winning children's writer Alan Gibbons spoke to Socialist
Worker about his new book and the audience for books that deal with
In my new book, The Defender, the main character, a 14 year old boy
called Ian, comes home to find two menacing characters waiting for
He runs away from the house and calls his dad, who tells him his
In the past Ian's dad, Kenny Kincaid, used to be involved with
Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, and he stole some
money from them. Now they've tracked him down.
The book is a thriller, which looks through flashbacks at how the
Troubles started. I think that what you have to do is take an issue
and wrap the story around it.
A lot of young people aren't really aware of the Troubles now.
The book is more about what happened to the soldiers after the
Troubles, after the war. But the Troubles are still a shadow over
British life and politics.
I write fiction, which means that I want to tell a good story. I
don't expect my readers to have any previous knowledge of Ireland
or its history. I want to unpeel the history.
I started teaching when I was in my thirties, and that's really
when I started storytelling. Necessity is the mother of invention,
and all that.
And I found that the best discipline was a good story. An anecdote
that has some humourthat was the best way to work with kids.
Teen writing is very healthy at the moment. It deals with issues.
There are a lot of new writers who really have their finger on the
pulse. Our peers are breaking new ground.
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman was incredibly important
because it wasn't just fantasyit looked at how the world is now.
Now these books get an adult readership as well. I think some
adults read novels that are aimed at children because a lot of
adult writing has moved away from narrative.
J K Rowling wasn't the first person to write these crossover books
which appeal to both adults and children.
The Harry Potter books definitely made the reading of teen novels
more acceptable, but I think they reflected rather than caused the
Lots of children's writers are also campaigners, and I think that
really changed the landscape of what's being written.
Having political ideas in your writing is incredibly unpopular in
some circles. There's this idea that teenagers aren't interested in
issuesthat the novels written for teenagers should just be
As far as I'm concerned that's wrong for two reasons.
Firstly all literature deals with ideas. If you write without
dealing with the issues of today that affect these kids then all
you're doing is upholding the status quo.
Secondly, kids today are hugely politicalthey are concerned about
the environment about the war.
Just look at all the school walkouts at the start of the war on
Iraq. These were not the actions of people who were not interested
in what's happening in the world around them.
Just because kids aren't necessarily interested in official
politics doesn't mean they're not aware of the realities around
There's an openness, a new politicisation, and that's something we
You have to respect the people that read your books. As far as I'm
concerned a book isn't finished until it's been read.
The Defender by Alan Gibbons is available from Bookmarks for £4.99.
Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to www.bookmarks.uk.com
November 10, 2004
Back Home In Ireland, Greener Pastures
By Nina Bernstein
They arrived as the New Irish in the 1980's and 90's, thousands
drawn to a New York that still glittered in family lore as a place
where hard work could bring prosperity.
But the glitter began to dim along with the economy and the
government's attitude toward illegal immigrants. Now they are
streaming back to Ireland at such a clip that in the neighborhoods
they regreened in Queens, Yonkers and the Bronx, once-packed pubs
stand half-empty and apartment vacancies go begging.
Some immigrants, longtime illegal residents losing hope for legal
status, say they are being driven out by new security crackdowns
that make it harder for those without a valid Social Security
number to drive, work or plan a future in the United States.
Others, already naturalized citizens, say the price in toil for
health care and education was too high, and hope for a less-
exhausting life in a prosperous Ireland.
"It's the complete reversal of the American dream," said Adrian
Flannelly, chairman of the Irish Radio Network in New York, who has
served on an Irish government task force on returnees. The exodus
from the city, he said, signals a historic shift in a relationship
that is part of the city's backbone, inscribed in the subways and
bridges built by Irish immigrant labor in past centuries.
Michael and Catroina Condon, both naturalized American citizens who
spent 19 and 11 years in New York, respectively, say Ireland's
style of prosperity promises a better life for their children.
After the birth of their first baby, they said, they rebelled
against the toll of seven-day workweeks to pay rising costs in a
sluggish American economy.
"It's longer hours, less money, and a lot of the time you see
people working for their wage just to pay their rent, to pay their
health insurance," said Ms. Condon, 31, who was a corporate
secretary in Manhattan before returning in September to Mullingar,
in County Westmeath. Her husband, a carpenter, is starting his own
business, and she envisions a wedding- planning enterprise.
The exodus is hard to quantify, but unmistakable, according to
observers in the travel agencies, real estate offices, moving
companies and pubs that cater to Irish New Yorkers in the Bronx and
Queens. Christina McElwaine, a spokeswoman for the Irish Consulate
in New York, said the reversal seemed unprecedented in scale.
Some Irish immigrants have always gone back home, of course, and in
2002, after several years of strong economic growth and declining
emigration, Ireland's census recorded 26,000 more Irish who
returned than left.
It was one of the largest inflows ever in a country that had
hemorrhaged its population for most of three centuries, and lost
23,000 as recently as 1990.
But the Irish departures reached critical mass in New York last
summer, and were echoed in the last two years in Boston and
Philadelphia. "If this trend continues, it will be a very rare
commodity to hear an Irish accent in this country," said Tom
Conaghan, director of Philadelphia's Irish Immigration and Pastoral
The surge surprised even Danny Moloney, director of Liffey Van
Lines, which had to keep its container loading dock in upper
Manhattan open 24 hours a day to meet the demand from families
shipping their household goods back to Ireland before school began.
"Our business has tripled in the past year," he said. "It's all
people that are going home to Ireland." Áine Cullen, a waitress at
Eileen's Country Kitchen on McLean Avenue in Yonkers, followed six
of her brothers when she migrated to New York seven years ago at
21. Now, most of her family has moved back.
"Everybody's leaving and nobody's coming over anymore," Ms. Cullen
said, ticking off colleagues, friends and relatives who packed up
and moved back to Ireland over the summer or have bought one-way
tickets home before Christmas. "This will be the fourth brother to
Some leave reluctantly. "I don't really have much of a choice,"
said Johnny C., 44, a construction worker who made a good living in
New York for 14 years, only to see his jobs dwindle since a
Department of Motor Vehicles crackdown this year left him unable to
renew his driver's license. He sent his wife and 13-year-old United
States-born daughter back to Waterford, Ireland, in June, he said,
speaking on condition that his last name not be published, and he
will join them this week.
Counselors in immigrant advice bureaus on both sides of the
Atlantic say that many returnees will have a rude awakening in
Ireland - especially those who were stuck in the underground
economy in the United States, unable to travel abroad for fear of
not getting back in. The Irish government now puts out brochures
warning that they will find not the Ireland of memory, but rather a
fast-paced multiracial society where their dollars are weak against
the euro and affordable housing scarce.
"The old tradition that you come to America and you work like hell
and you save, and you go back and the almighty dollar will give you
a kick start - that's all over," Mr. Flannelly said.
But for those who linger illegally in New York, there is another
twist in the Irish-American relationship. Now it is they who marvel
at visiting Irish friends and relatives who are able to fly to New
York for the weekend, just to shop for cheap designer-label goods,
or to consider investing in a $300,000 apartment.
"For generations, we Irish have fled oppression and poverty to New
York in the hope of a better way of life; now it seems we just want
to buy the place," Tim O'Brien wrote in The Irish Times in a Sept.
23 article about "the latest big thing" - "how affordable property
is for the Irish investor."
Johnny C., the construction worker, remembers that kind of attitude
in the Irish-American visitors of his childhood. "The shoe is
really on the other foot now," he said.
In the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, where homes typically change
hands through word of mouth, the ripple effects are inescapable. An
Irish-American landlord said that half a dozen of his apartments
had been vacant since August and that his wife had to close down
her home day care business as families moved away.
Siobhan Dennehy, director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center,
in Queens, said others had only been holding out for a fresh
approach to immigration after the election. One example was a 40-
year-old mother in Woodside, Queens, who began packing last
Wednesday after seven years. "The election definitely tipped things
for me," she said as she prepared to take her New York-born
daughter back to Sligo. "I may as well go home and be part of a
society that I can belong to and contribute to. Under Bush, it's
never going to happen."
But Anthony Finn, a counselor with the Emigrant Advice Centre in
Dublin, said the returnees might find disillusionment, too, in
today's Ireland. The most successful, he said, are those who got
legal status in the United States; the illegal are caught short in
On one side is Barry Fox, a carpenter who went from illegal day
laborer to American citizen earning a union wage over a dozen years
in New York. "I think I'm actually better off," Mr. Fox, a father
of three, said in a telephone call from County Tyrone, where he
built a home on his father's farmland after returning three years
Weighing the higher cost of parochial school education, health
insurance and his mortgage in Yonkers, he said even his $70-an-hour
union carpenter's wage in New York fell short of what he earned
At the other end is a couple that left Boston for County Cork two
years ago, and told Kieran O'Sullivan, a counselor at Boston's
Irish Immigration Center, that they now regretted it.
While they were in the United States, prices soared in Ireland,
spurred by the high-tech boom known as the Celtic Tiger. But they
do not qualify for high-paying work, they said, and service jobs in
hotels and restaurants go to the recent wave of immigrants from
Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe willing to work harder for lower
"We were only gone for four and a half years, but everything had
changed," the wife said in a call from Ireland, asking to remain
anonymous in hopes of avoiding a 10-year ban on re-entering the
United States, imposed on anyone found to have overstayed a tourist
visa by more than 180 days.
Mr. Finn, the emigrant advice officer in Dublin, agreed. "They are
not returning," he said of the Irish from America. "They're
remigrating to a different country."