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May 15, 2007

Calls For Republic To Rejoin Commonwealth

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 05/15/07 More Calls For Republic To Rejoin Commonwealth
BB 05/14/07 SF Outlines Their N Ireland Commonwealth Stance
SF 05/15/07 Assembly Asked To Champion Irish Undocumented In USA
BN 05/14/07 Ahern To Address British Houses Of Parliament
BB 05/15/07 Pay Rise For NI Assembly Members
BT 05/15/07 Free Prescription Campaign Goes Before Assembly
IT 05/15/07 First Of McCabe Killers Is Released
IV 05/15/07 McAleese Lauds Irish Americans
IT 05/15/07 Dublin Unveils Range Of Summer Events


More Calls For Ireland To Rejoin Commonwealth

15/05/2007 - 11:43:10

The Irish Government today faced further calls to rejoin the

Following appeals in the Assembly yesterday for Ireland to rejoin
the international organisation headed by the Queen after 58
years, the secretary general of the Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association (CPA) Dr William Shija, said the time had come for
Ireland to embrace the diversity offered by the group of 53
nations from across the world.

Mr Shija noted the vast majority of members were republican

The former Tanzanian minister said: "We look forward indeed to
when not only the other part of Ireland but other parts of the
world are looking at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
as an association which respects diversity and differences and
multi-cultural approaches.

"I look forward to an inclusive process by having more members."

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson and Alliance Party's Sean Neeson
yesterday called on Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth following
recent strides forward in the peace process.

In 1949 the Irish Government under Taoiseach John A Costello left
the Commonwealth on becoming a republic.

Eamon de Valera's grandson, the Minister for Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv has backed the idea of Ireland
returning to the Commonwealth in a bid to reach out to unionists.

The CPA is a group of parliamentary bodies within the
Commonwealth and includes regional and national parliamentarians
from the UK, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

Mr Shija was attending the opening ceremony at Stormont of its
CPA's British Islands and Mediterranean Region's conference.

Stormont First Minister Ian Paisley and Assembly Deputy Speaker
Francie Molloy addressed the event whose theme this week is

Delegates from Gibraltar, St Helena, Malta and Cyprus joined
Scottish MSPs, Welsh Ams and Westminster MPs along with members
from Pakistan and South Africa for the 38th annual conference.

The conference, which runs until Thursday, will discuss how
Northern Ireland has moved away from conflict.

Mr Paisley welcomed CPA members to the province and hoped they
would learn from the good parts of Northern Ireland's history.

"Our society is increasingly diverse, and the opportunities that
a more peaceful future presents must be available to all," the
DUP leader said.

"As a society we are strengthened through unity and diversity.
This isn't something to fear."

He added that progress had been made through anti-discrimination
legislation and measures to address disadvantage.

"But while policies are important, it is the things that people
do which ultimately make the difference.

"A major focus of the Northern Ireland Executive will be to
ensure that the policy translates into real action."

Yesterday's decision to enter the association was taken without
opposition from Sinn Fein, a fact welcomed by Dr Paisley.

Sinn Fein Deputy Speaker Francie Molloy said he was welcoming the
delegation in his neutral capacity as a leading officer of the

He said people in the North could enjoy a future free from fear
and violence.

"We have an opportunity to learn from you and see how we can work
together in developing a system of government which can
accommodate and over time overcome distrust and division," he


SF Outlines Their N Ireland Commonwealth Stance

Sinn Fein has said it will not oppose an Ulster Unionist call for
the Stormont Assembly to rejoin the Commonwealth Parliamentary

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin said his party recognised it was
important to others in the community and would not create
division on the issue.

A party spokesman said the party did not support the motion, but
would not stand in the way of it being passed.

The shortage of women in local politics has also been discussed.

MLAs have been debating why so few women are involved: only 18
out of 108 assembly members are women.

Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann said it was "a disgrace".

"Women make up over 50% of our society yet are seriously under
represented at all levels," she said.

Members have been looking at establishing an all-party working
group on the issue.

Irish immigrants

There were also calls for the executive to put into place a
strategy to tackle the under-representation of women in politics.

The number of women who stood for election in March was less than
in 2003. There were three fewer female candidates in 2007.

Meanwhile, the SDLP has put forward two motions. One calls for
better rail links between the north and south, the other
expresses concern about the plight of undocumented Irish
immigrants in the USA.

In a separate development, the Electoral Office has announced
that the DUP's Alistair Ian Ross has been returned as MLA for
East Antrim, filling the vacancy caused by the death of George
Dawson last week.

With the power-sharing executive still gearing up, the new local
ministers will not have to face questions on the floor of the
assembly until next month.

It will take some time before any proposals for new laws come to
the Stormont chamber.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/14 13:09:46 GMT


Assembly Asked To Champion Cause Of Irish Undocumented In USA

Published: 14 May, 2007

Sinn Fein Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has asked the Assembly
to write to the US Administration and all Senators to encourage
them to resolve the situation facing the Irish 'undocumented' in
the USA.

Mr Boylan said:

"This is a crucial time for those 40,000 plus undocumented Irish
living and working in the USA.

"Sinn Fein is asking the Assembly to write, as a matter of
urgency, to all US Senators and the Administration urging them to
reach an immigration compromise which would secure residency for
not only the Irish Undocumented but for millions of immigrants
there deemed illegal by the system.

"Regardless of people's politics, the issue of undocumented Irish
in America and all the hardships that go with such status has to
be resolved in a humane manner.

"Sinn Fein elected representatives at all levels have constantly
highlighted the matter and it is clear that the issue can be
resolved but the political pressure needs to

be maintained

"The fear of not being allowed re-enter the US, where many Irish
people have made good lives for themselves, has meant that these
people have been cut off from their families and their native
country. This has caused much hardship for the undocumented Irish
and for their families back home in Ireland and has meant visits,
holidays, weddings and even funerals in Ireland are out of the
question. We must remember that the undocumented Irish work very
hard and make a powerful contribution to American social life the
economy. It is now time for them to be granted citizenship.

"A debate on a new bill in the Senate is expected shortly. It is
obvious that the time has arrived again The Assembly should
champion the cause. The publicly declared support of the Assembly
for the undocumented, would carry a significant weight and
hopefully help encourage all involved in the decision making
process on the issue to finally resolve this matter." ENDS


Ahern To Address British Houses Of Parliament

15/05/2007 - 01:25:14

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will address a joint session of the House
of Commons and the House of Lords at Westminster today.

He will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing
Street and both men will travel together to the Palace of

The address will take place before an audience of 500 in the
Royal Gallery room.

The Taoiseach's address comes at a time of transformed relations
between Ireland and Britain, and a week after the restoration of
devolved government in the North.

The Taoiseach is expected to reflect on the shared history
between Ireland and Britain and the range of partnerships between
the two countries.

It is believed a significant part of his address will be devoted
to the co-operation between the two governments in the North
peace process.

Addressing the joint Houses is a major honour and has been
previously bestowed on only 31 world leaders since 1939.

The distinguished list includes Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama
and former US presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Other current and previous leaders who have addressed the Commons
and Lords during past decades include former Israeli premier
Shimon Peres, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Nicaraguan president
Daniel Ortega, former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, outgoing
French president Jacques Chirac and Australian premier John

Also on the list is Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Soviet leaders
Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev and Charles de Gaulle of

Mr Blair addressed the joint Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin
in November 1998, just months after the signing of the Good
Friday Agreement.


Pay Rise For NI Assembly Members

Northern Ireland Assembly members may be in for a salary increase
after Peter Hain recommended salaries be reviewed by an
independent body.

Shortly before devolution was restored, Mr Hain increased annual
office costs allowances from œ48,000 to œ70,000.

Meanwhile First Minister Ian Paisley is due to address the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at Stormont.

The group will also be formally welcomed to the assembly by Sinn
Fein deputy speaker, Francie Molloy.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is in Northern Ireland
for its 38th conference, with delegates from Europe, Pakistan and
South Africa.

On Monday, Sinn Fein said it would not oppose an Ulster Unionist
call for the assembly to rejoin the association.

Meanwhile, the assembly is also due to debate a range of issues,
including rates and prescription charges.

The Green Party member Brian Wilson and Alliance assembly member
Stephen Farry are seeking a full review of what they describe as
the introduction of unfair rates.

The review by the Department of Finance should take into
consideration rates based on income as well as rates relief.

The assembly will also debate a call for a cost and benefit
review of prescription charges with a view to abolishing them.

Sinn Fein will lead a debate on mental health services for young

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/15 06:41:24 GMT


Free Prescription Campaign Goes Before Assembly

[Published: Tuesday 15, May 2007 - 09:28]
By Claire Regan

A Belfast Telegraph campaign calling for prescription charges to
be completely abolished was set to be taken straight to the heart
of the new Assembly today.

The Alliance Party has tabled a motion for today's Assembly
business to call on the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to
launch a review of the impact and benefits of scrapping charges.

The move is a boost for our Prescriptions: Free For All campaign
which is calling on the Assembly to look into the matter
urgently. We launched the campaign last month to highlight the
financial burden suffered by patients who have to pay for their
medicine, particularly those suffering long-term and chronic
illnesses such as cancer.

Alliance health spokesman Kieran McCarthy tabled the motion, due
to be voted on by the Assembly this morning, along with
independent assembly member Dr Kieran Deeny.

It says: "That this Assembly calls upon the Minister for Health
to establish a cost and benefit review for the purpose of
abolishing health prescription charges as has been carried out in

Mr McGimpsey has already voiced support for our campaign and said
he believes that no-one should have to pay for prescriptions.

Stormont's five main political parties have already voiced
support for scrapping prescription charges so it is expected that
the motion will be widely supported.

Speaking last night, Mr McCarthy commended the Belfast Telegraph
on the campaign.

"We want to see a cost-benefit analysis carried out to see if it
is beneficial to make prescriptions free for everyone," said the
Strangford MLA.

"Our motion in the Assembly will hopefully secure a study which
will examine this issue. We must, however, ensure that the
limited budget we have for health is spent in the most effective
way possible; therefore, a cost-benefit analysis is necessary to
determine this.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to praise the Belfast
Telegraph and its campaign, as it has raised the issue up the
political agenda."

Heather Monteverde, general manager of Macmillan Cancer Support,
urged all Assembly members to support the motion.

"On behalf of the 40,000 people living with cancer in Northern
Ireland, Macmillan Cancer Support welcomes today's debate and
urges the Assembly to follow Wales' example and bring an end to
prescription charges," she said.

"No-one in Northern Ireland should have to weigh up which of
their prescriptions is the most important, or go without their
medication because they simply don't have the money to pay for

"We would like to congratulate the Belfast Telegraph on their
Free for All campaign which has helped bring this issue to the
public's attention. Together we're calling on our new MLAs to
bring this stealth tax on illness to an end."

c Belfast Telegraph


First Of McCabe Killers Is Released

Tue, May 15, 2007

The first of four IRA men convicted for the killing of Detective
Garda Jerry McCabe was released from prison today.

Michael O'Neill, who has served eight years of an 11-year
manslaughter sentence at Castlerea, was given standard remission
for good behaviour.

O'Neill, from Patrickswell, Co Limerick, was jailed in 1999 for
his role in the manslaughter of Det Gda McCabe, who was shot dead
during a raid on a post office in Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7th

He was involved in the preparation of the raid but did not fire
the fatal shots.

Jeremiah Sheehy, Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh, who were also
convicted of the manslaughter of the garda, are likely to be
released within the next two years.

Despite repeated attempts to release the men under the terms of
the Belfast Agreement, they faced fierce resistance from the
officer's widow, Ann McCabe, Garda representative bodies and
politicians on both the Government and Opposition benches.

Earlier this year, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern defended O'Neill's
release, saying that the Prison Service had no legal authority to
detain him beyond that date.

Det Garda McCabe's brother-in-law, Pat Kearney, said the family
would ignore the man's release.

c 2007


McAleese Lauds Irish Americans

By April Drew

Irish President Mary McAleese returned to Ireland on Friday, May
4, after a week of extensive engagements in the U.S., including a
visit to several Irish centers in Yonkers, the Bronx, Queens and
Long Island. Her trip aimed to strengthen the connection with the
Irish community here in the U.S. and to promote Irish and U.S.
political, educational, trade and cultural links.

After visiting Atlanta on Monday, April 30, and meeting with
Governor Sonny Perdue and several members of the Irish American
community at Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University,
Atlanta History Center, the Rotary Club of Atlanta, and at an
Irish community reception at the Ritz Carlton, the president
traveled to Syracuse, New York. There, on Tuesday, May 1, she
delivered a keynote address to the University of Syracuse's
faculty on the theme of education and disability. She also met
with Congressman Jim Walsh and visited the Law School
Disabilities Rights Clinic.

The president, who arrived in New York on Tuesday evening, began
the first leg of her journey on Wednesday morning, May 2 by
officially opening the new Emerald Isle Immigration Center on
Katonah Avenue in the Bronx.

Attired in a lime green suit, the president said, "It's a joy to
be here, to be part of a very special day in the life of this
community and to be part of something that has been worked so
hard for for 10 years. You must have a nice mix of patience and
impatience. Patience enough to wait and the impatience to keep
wanting and not to give up and this new center reflects that,"
she said.

Using the old Irish expression, "two shortens the journey,"
McAleese continued, "This place is all about the emigrant
experience, which can be a great experience, but it can also be a
lonely one. It's so important that we have points of contact like
this center so people can come and feel supported."

After being presented with a book called The Beautiful Bronx,
1920 - 1950, McAleese wished the center well and said, "This will
be a center where lives and relationships will flourish and where
Irish America will also flourish."

McAleese took a pair of scissors and officially opened the
Emerald Isle Immigration Center. This received a rapturous
applause from the invited guests, including the new Irish Consul
General to New York Niall Burgess, who was accompanied by
McAleese's new secretary general and old Consul General Tim

Next stop was the Aisling Irish Community Center on McLean Avenue
in Yonkers, where close to 100 people waited eagerly to greet
McAleese. As she arrived she was welcomed by the senior group at
the center, including Jimmy Clarke, who is 102 years old.

The president thanked the center for its ongoing contribution to
the Irish community. "I sincerely thank you for the ongoing work
you do at the center, and even the work for this one day," she
said looking at the wooden floor and smiling, "someone has been
shining the floor.

"This place (The Aisling Irish Community Center) has always and
ever been about making the Irish feel at home," she said.

She empathized with the Irish emigrant's experience by saying,
"You are trying to grow a new heart for the place you are trying
to live in now-and the other half is still so deeply and
emotionally attached to the place you left behind. And for the
rest of your life you will have to live with that heart of two

Pat Sheehy of the senior group welcomed McAleese on behalf of the
"very active" senior group and she presented their newest
project, a multicolored quilt with the colors of the 32 counties
on it. "It's a project of love and of our gratitude for your work
in Ireland," said Sheehy.

Across the road, at St. Barnabas School where a crowd gathered to
hear from the president, McAleese said, "When I was growing up so
many of our people were living in Yonkers and the Bronx so I
always imagined them to be just down the road."

Describing Ireland as a changed place she said, "Long ago people
came here because there was no hope and no opportunities in
Ireland but now Ireland is a very different place, very
prosperous and still immigrants can't come home. Before it was
just an ocean separating them today it's a different reason."

Thanking Irish America for their involvement in the Northern
Ireland peace process McAleese said, "Irish America is completely
immersed in the peace process and thanks to their contribution
there is now peace on the island of Ireland."

McAleese told her audience at St. Barnabas that she felt very
welcomed everywhere she went on her trip. "There is no sense of
distance here in the U.S., people welcome the Irish with open

There were several dignitaries in attendance at the St. Barnabas
event, including Mayor of Yonkers Philip Amicone, numerous
Yonkers City Council members and Bronx-based boxer Maureen Shea.

On Wednesday afternoon the president, accompanied on the trip by
her husband Dr. Martin McAleese, attended a Tourism Ireland
luncheon, a reception at the Irish Consulate and a performance of
The Pirate Queen on Broadway.

On Thursday, May 3, she met with staff from the New York Irish
Center in Queens and the Irish American Society of Nassau,
Suffolk and Queens in Long Island where she discussed the bridges
between both Ireland and the United States.

She was later conferred with an honorary doctorate of Law at St.
John's University and she received a humanitarian award for her
work in reconciling communities in the Northern Ireland from the
American Ireland Fund at their gala dinner.

On the final day of her extensive trip, Friday, May 4, McAleese
met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and took a trip to
Harlem to meet with Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the
House Ways and Means Committee. More than 20 representatives from
the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform greeted McAleese in
Harlem. She shook their hands, thanked them for coming and told
them to continue with their good work.

Earlier in the week the president told the Irish Voice that she
"strongly supported" moves by the Congress and President Bush to
resolve what is a very difficult issue, that of immigration

"We hope that all those who are pushing for a humanely possible
solution to this immigration issue will be very successful and
hopefully the sooner the better," she said.

Her final engagement of the trip was to present the Biolink USA
Ireland Life Sciences Award at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She
flew back to Ireland later Friday evening.


Dublin Unveils Range Of Summer Events

Tue, May 15, 2007

A string of concerts, festivals and special events will entice
thousands to spend the summer in Dublin, it was predicted today.

Boasting the Bloomsday celebrations, the Liffey Swim, Writers'
and Maritime Festivals, the capital is also promoting itself as a
shopping venue.

Summer in Dublin 2007was launched today to promote a wide range
of events combining family entertainment with literary festivals
and outdoor concerts.

"The family fun festivals, galleries, parks, buskers, unique
atmosphere and fashion choice available in Dublin City Centre
create the perfect shopping and leisure destination," Tom Coffey,
CEO of Dublin City Business Association (DCBA) said.

"In addition, public transport and general access has never been
better and we just want to remind people that Dublin is their
capital city and to come in and enjoy all that it has to offer
for themselves."

Events include city-wide family fun days, music concerts in the
city's parks and gardens, together with art exhibitions in the
galleries and museums. Many of the events are free.

Jointly organised by DCBA and Dublin City Council, this year's
festival has an extensive programme of family leisure and
cultural events developed by a broad range of organisations.
These include the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, Dublin Docklands
Development Authority, Dublin City Council, OPW, James Joyce
Centre and the National Museum of Ireland.

"We encourage people to come and experience Summer in Dublin,
there is something for all the family" communications manager
with Dublin City Council Michael Sands said.

"The city has changed remarkably in the last number of years,"
added Mr Coffey. "The quality of the display and buildings has
improved enormously. It [Dublin] has developed into a truly
European cosmopolitan cafe-society style capital."

More information on Dublin's various summer activities can be
obtained at

c 2007

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