December January 2002 Issue – Irish America Irish America Magazine Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 82361074 Those Whom We Lost Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:59:11 +0000 Read more..]]> They were busboys and bankers, grandmothers and newlyweds, firefighters, soldiers, tourists and priests. More than 6,000 of them died at their desks, or running down stairs, or clearing the way for others. Maybe a couple of dozen of them, on a plane over Pennsylvania, died swinging their fists. But on that cruel morning of September 11h, the morning of the most devastating terrorist assault ever on American soil, the only thing the 6,000 plus had in common was that they were dead.


Quickly, there were demographic trends. The Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage lost nearly 700 employees, a third of its total. Marsh &McLennan lost 295. Windows on the World restaurant, on top of 1 World Trade Center, lost 75 workers and 93 guests, talking business over bagels and coffee. And of course, the firefighters of the FDNY, while helping to evacuate some 25,000 people from the Trade Center, lost 343 of their “brothers.”

Americans were the target, and of course other nationals also perished. At press time the Irish government named more than a dozen of its natives among the dead in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Based on family names and individual stories, there are many hundreds of American dead with Irish heritage, including Americans who through parents or grandparents had become Irish citizens. The website, set up in reaction to the September 11 attacks, estimated that perhaps one-sixth of the dead were in some way `Irish.’

“September 11, 2001 may well go down as the bloodiest day in the history of the Irish people,” the website claims. “An estimated 1000 people who were of Irish descent or of Irish birth were lost in the violent events on that day.”

On that warm and sunny Tuesday morning, Tommy Foley was closing out the overnight shift at Rescue 3, in The Bronx. At age 32, Foley was already a ten-year veteran of the FDNY. It was the job he dreamt of since childhood, when he would visit the Harlem firehouse of a family friend, Firefighter Bob Conroy.

<em>Thomas Foley.</em>

Thomas Foley.

“Tommy Boy — that’s what I call him, ever since he’s a little kid,” Conroy said, still using the present tense. “I can still see Tommy Boy running around the firehouse in Harlem, running around and getting filthy dirty. It’s all he ever wanted to do.”

At 8:52 a.m., the call came in. Emergency in Lower Manhattan. An airplane or a helicopter or maybe even bombs, tearing through what New Yorkers call the Twin Towers. Instead of ending his shift, Tommy reached for his boots.

Across the city, the scene was repeated. The first airliner hit just as scores of firefighters were either coming off duty or arriving to work, thus maximizing the number rushing downtown. Mike Cawley wasn’t even on duty that day with his regular outfit — the `Elmhurst Eagles’ of Ladder 136 — but instinctively he raced to the Towers with another unit, Rescue 4. A 32-year-old bachelor like Foley, Cawley had been what firemen call a `buff ever since he was a kid, happily covering shifts for firefighters who had families, and racing toward smoke and flame even when he was off-duty. On a September 11 when he could have stayed away, Cawley of course could be no place else.

<em>Mike Cawley.</em>

Mike Cawley.

Meanwhile, AnnMarie McHugh had been at her desk inside Tower Two since early that morning. When not working for the EuroBrokers firm, the 35-year-old native of Tuam, County Galway, was busy planning her wedding, just a month away.

Over in Tower One, Mike Armstrong had even less time left before his `big day.’ The 34-year-old son of immigrants from County Longford, worked for the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm alongside the Lynch brothers, Farrell (39) and Sean (36), whose uncle represents the Sligo-Leitrim constituency in the Irish Senate. Armstrong, a Manhattan native who was so outgoing and gregarious that his many friends long ago nicknamed him `Posse,’ was getting married to longtime girlfriend Cathy Nolan on October 6th.

<em>Mike Armstrong.</em>

Mike Armstrong.

At Logan Airport, the McCourts waited on standby. Ruth Clifford McCourt, a 44-year-old businesswoman who left her native County Cork as a teenager, was taking four-year-old Juliana on a vacation to Los Angeles. Mother and daughter found seats aboard United Airlines Flight 175.

Shortly after takeoff, of course, Flight 175 was yanked from its flight path by hijackers. As Ruth McCourt’s plane hurtled towards Lower Manhattan, it’s likely she never knew that her own brother, Ronnie, was attending a business meeting in the very same skyscraper where she and her daughter would meet their fiery end. Ronnie Clifford would escape the Trade Center without serious injury, only to learn later that one of the two planes that brought the Towers down contained his sister Ruth and niece Juliana.

Panic spread like brushfire across the country, and Navy Commander Robert Dolan was among those called to quell the flames. The 40-year-old husband, father and Little League coach often addressed his military colleagues with speeches that quoted everything from Shakespeare to Monty Python; he was equally adept commanding naval fleets that resemble floating steel cities. On the morning of September 11, Dolan was in his office on the first floor of the Pentagon’s D Ring, among a group hearing reports on that morning’s attacks in Lower Manhattan. At 9:43 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 exploded through Dolan’s window.

<em>Joe Lenihan.</em>

Joe Lenihan.

“Bob Dolan was the best and brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom,” Lisa Dolan would later write about her husband of nearly 19 years. “We pray his rest is peaceful, although ours cannot be.”

The final plane to be hijacked that morning was United Airlines Flight 93. Because its passengers learned by cell phone that the morning’s previous hijackings were suicide runs, they obviously deduced there was nothing to lose from being brave. As Flight 93 rumbled through rural Pennsylvania, passenger Thomas Burnett spoke to his wife in California.

“I know we’re all going to die,” said Burnett, a 38-year-old father of three. “There’s three of us who are going to do something about it.”

By nature of the phone call to his wife, then, Burnett was among the lucky ones. With so few survivors pulled from the ruins, and hospitals across New York relatively empty because the dead so outnumbered the physically wounded, there were so many who never got the chance to say goodbye, never got the chance to say “I love you.”

<em> Ruth and Juliana McCourt</em>

Ruth and Juliana McCourt

Martin Coughlan also got to make that final phonecall. Shortly after 9 a.m., the 53-year-old carpenter from Cappawhite, County Tipperary, managed to call home from his jobsite on the 96th floor of Tower One. “There’s been a bomb in the building,” Coughlin told his wife, “but I’m OK, and tell the four girls I’ll be home for dinner.” Many days later, Coughlan’s remains were found.

One hundred and six stories from safety, Eamon McEneaney also called his wife. The 46-year-old vice-president at Cantor Fitzgerald was a heralded survivor of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, when he calmly covered the mouths of co-workers with wet towels and led human chains down the stairs. On September 11, the father of four left a message at his wife’s office: a plane had hit the building, he was on the way out, and he loved her. McEneaney never made it out.

Unlike McEneaney, John O’Neill managed to escape. The 50-year-old former FBI man had been named the Trade Center’s Director of Security just two weeks before. He made it from the 34th floor to the street, from where he called his son to report that he was safe. Then O’Neill reentered one of the Towers, joining the human sacrifice that was under way in the name of evacuating others.

In Spring Lake, New Jersey, the McAlarys leapt for joy when their son and brother Bryan phoned to say he had escaped unharmed from his Trade Center office. They were soon horrified to learn that Bryan’s older brother James — a 42-year-old broker — was in the Trade Center that day for a sales meeting. “Jimmy Mac,” as he was known to all, never came home.

The McAlarys were but one of many sets of brothers at the scene that day. At the base of the Towers, Michael Moran of Rescue 3 spoke by cell phone with his big brother John, a 43-year-old Battalion Chief — they were brothers by blood and `brothers’ by profession, among the fraternity of the FDNY. “I told him to be careful,” the younger Moran would recall weeks later, at a memorial service for John. “I didn’t see him there that day, but now I see him all the time.”

<em>Joseph Berry pictured at <strong>Irish America's</strong> Wall Street 50 Reception, July 11, 2001.</em>

Joseph Berry pictured at Irish America’s Wall Street 50 Reception, July 11, 2001.

Maureen Haskell, a Fire Department widow, sent three of her four boys — Kenny, Timmy and Tommy — to the FDNY. Timmy, 34, was on the 60th floor of Tower One when the floor dropped beneath him. Nearly two weeks after the attacks, Maureen listened as Kenny gave a eulogy, Timmy’s remains lay in a casket, and Tommy was still in Lower Manhattan, one of thousands lost in the mountain of steel and smoke.

“We need to pray for Tommy’s safe return…I’m sure he’s fine,” Kenny told those who gathered to bury Timmy, in Seaford, Long Island. “Tommy’s probably sitting comfortably down there in a large void, wondering — what’s taking us so long?”

Kenny Haskell vowed to retrieve his brother, as did Danny Foley, who seven years ago had followed his above-mentioned elder brother Tommy into the FDNY. Danny worked around the clock with rescue crews searching for the brother that he idolized, and nearly two weeks after the attack he addressed mourners at St. Anthony’s in Nanuet, New York: “It took ten days, but a promise I made to my family was kept, when I brought Tommy home.”

<em>Chris Duffy attending Irish America's annual Wall street 50 reception, in Windows of the World, July 11, 2001.</m>

Chris Duffy attending Irish America’s annual Wall street 50 reception, in Windows of the World, July 11, 2001.

Danny recalled the nights spent talking across bunk beds to his older brother, discussing what he called their common interests: football, fishing, becoming a firefighter, and girls. In later years, he recalled joking about his big brother’s pin-up pose in a firefighter’s calendar, a charity fundraiser that led to modeling jobs and appearances among `eligible bachelors’ in People and also the `Top 100 Irish Americans’ list published by this magazine. “I knew someday I wanted to be just like my big brother,” Danny recalled. “He’s always been a hero to me, and now he’s a hero to people around the world.”

Bob Conroy, the family friend who earlier recalled the young Tommy Foley running around a Harlem firehouse, and would later become the Foley brothers’ FDNY mentor, echoed the sentiments of so many families and friends when he said, “I only wish I could see him one more time — just one more time to tell him how much I love him.”

<em>Damien Meehan.</em>

Damien Meehan.

Foley was not the only September 11 victim to have previously appeared in the pages of Irish America magazine. Of the more than 70 employees lost from Keefe, Bruyette &Woods, two were former honorees among the Irish American `Wall Street 50′ — Chairman &CEO Joe Berry and Executive Vice-President Joseph Lenihan. Another victim from the same firm, Chris Duffy, was the son of `Wall Street 50′ honoree John Duffy. Berry, Lenihan and the two Duffys were among those who attended Irish America’s Wall Street 50 reception on July 11, an event that was held annually at Windows on the World restaurant. At the top of Tower One, the breathtaking view from Windows on the World was the ideal setting to toast the many achievements of the Irish and their descendants in the U.S. As of September 11, that skyline view has been lost forever, but of course the accomplishments of people like Berry, Lenihan and the Duffys remain.

The accomplishments of others were never recorded and may never be known. The unborn second child of Damien Meehan will never know daddy first-hand, how he grew up playing Gaelic Football with five brothers in Good Shepherd Parish, Upper Manhattan. How among the Donegal Meehans of Upper Manhattan, Damien was the first to enter a `safe’ profession — becoming a financial foot-soldier on Wall Street, instead of a fireman or a cop. How on September 11, 2001, the 33-year-old reported to his desk at Carr Futures in Tower One and then disappeared; vanished forever.

<em>Firefighter Timothy Stackpole, promoted to Captain with his family at a ceremony at Randall's Island FD, Left to right,front row: Terence,6; Brendan,9; Brian,10. Rear row; his wife Tara; daughter Kaitlyn, 15.</em>

Firefighter Timothy Stackpole, promoted to Captain with his family at a ceremony at Randall’s Island FD,
Left to right,front row: Terence,6; Brendan,9; Brian,10.
Rear row; his wife Tara; daughter Kaitlyn, 15.

In Northern Ireland, they will never know of the woodwork yet to be crafted by 21-year-old Brian Monaghan, who had emigrated to the Meehans’ neighborhood in Upper Manhattan. Joint ceremonies at Good Shepherd Church, Inwood, and St. Patrick’s Church, Belfast, recalled the hurdles young Monaghan and his family had overcome to date, and all the promise the young carpenter had left to give.

In Dublin, they memorialized Richard Fitzsimons, who traveled to the Irish capital from Lynbrook, Long Island, just weeks before, to dance at his niece’s wedding. In New Jersey, they play `The Minstrel Boy’ just a little bit quieter now in memory of three fallen `Irishmen’ of sorts from the Port Authority Pipe Band — Steve Huczko, Liam Callahan and Richard Rodriguez. In the Bronx, a widow cries because her husband and the father of her two baby girls, 31-year-old cafeteria worker Israel Pabon, left for work at dawn after a minor domestic squabble the night before: “We never got the chance to talk…”

The sacrifice is staggering, the waste of life too much to bear. In Woodside, Queens, and Breezy Point, Brooklyn, families of cops, firemen and brokers with Irish names are forever wounded. There are Brooklynites like Captain Timmy Stackpole, who just weeks before had laughed while being named `Irishman of the Year’ at the Coney Island Irish Fest, and there are Bronxites like Ann McGovern, who bragged of a recent hole-in-one on the golf course. A vice-president at the Aon Corporation of Tower Two who had recently become a grandma for the fifth time, McGovern had many accomplishments and perhaps even more loved ones who gathered to mourn at St. Brigid’s of Westbury, Long Island. From the altar, Ann’s husband summed up perhaps the most important lesson learned by untold thousands since the attacks of September 11.

<em>Ann McGovern.</em>

Ann McGovern.

“Don’t be afraid to tell people you love them, when it could be the last words spoken,” said Larry McGovern, near a poster-sized photo of Ann with her youngest grandchild, Liam. Cocking his head to the church roof, McGovern said in a cracked voice: “I love you.” ♦

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The First Word: God Bless America Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:58:59 +0000 Read more..]]> “With liberty and justice for all.”

–Pledge of Allegiance


This may be the most difficult editorial that I have written since the creation of the magazine 16 years ago. It is difficult not because I have nothing to say or because there is an absence of current events deserving comment. To the contrary — it has been a time of great emotion — a time when there may be too much to write about.

All of us shared a sense of horror in witnessing the incredible hatred and evil that was unveiled on September 11. We were just beginning to work on the Business 100 feature for this issue and were sadly familiar with too many of the firms that were now in the news.

The shock was lessened, however, by a sense of pride in the courage shown by our firefighters, police and rescue workers. The words “e pluribus unum” (from many we are one) could be seen in the reaction of every American. We were all drawn together and united by our compassion and love for our country. And I was filled with a desire to write about the great sense of pride I feel as a naturalized American citizen and the love I have for America and the strength that comes from all of its diversity.

I wanted to write about firefighter Tom Foley, whom we had honored as a Top 100, and the other “brothers” who “ran in as others ran out.” While I could not find the words, Pete Hamill pays the FDNY an eloquent tribute in his “In the Line of Duty” in this issue. And while I am at a loss to articulate the tremendous blow to the Irish American community, Brian Rohan’s “Those Whom We’ve Lost,” also in this issue, shows the magnitude of the tragedy.

Then there was the reaction from my native Ireland. The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, avowed that the solidarity of the Irish and American people must be acknowledged and a national day of mourning was declared. Not ever before in the history of the Republic of Ireland was every business closed as it was on this day. The churchs were filled in every part of the country and I wanted to write about the pride I felt in the response of the land of my birth.

As I continued to struggle to capture in words the emotions I was feeling, there were the rumors of a big announcement from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Could it be that a breakthrough in the peace process was to be realized?

I attended the press conference of Martin McGuinness, which was coordinated here in New York to follow a similar press briefing held by Gerry Adams in Belfast. Adams and McGuinness announced that they had met with the IRA and asked them to make a courageous move to save the peace process. The following day the world learned of the IRA decision to put arms permanently and verifiably beyond use.

General deChastelain, Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning,. announced that it had already begun. This move, more than any other, demonstrates beyond a doubt the commitment of the IRA to the peace process. Certainly, this historic moment is deserving of my editorial attention.

So, what is it that I should write about? Is it the horror of marking September 11 as our entry point into the 21st century? Or the pride of a nation united by compassion? Or perhaps is it a commentary on the nation of Ireland, young in its years but mature in its compassionate outreach not only to its loyal friend, America, but also in its resolve to addressing conflict on its own island of Ireland?

I can only think that we all can find comfort in the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance that I recited upon my swearing in as a new citizen of this great nation “…With liberty and justice for all.” In the end this is what unites us despite our diversity and this is the ultimate answer to conflict around the world. God bless each of you and God bless America. ♦

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IRA Dispose of Weapons Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:57:54 +0000 Read more..]]> An historic breakthrough was made in the Northern Ireland peace process at the end of October when the first IRA arms were put permanently beyond use in a move monitored by the International Commission on Decommissioning.

In the early hours of October 23 General John de Chastelain oversaw the disposal of what was called a “sizable quantity” of the IRA’s weapons, a move which breathed new life into a dying peace process and was heralded by politicians at home and abroad.

General de Chastelain described the decommissioning as “significant,” thereby signaling that the IRA had fulfilled the terms of the Good Friday Agreement on arms and allowing the Ulster Unionist Party to claim it was enough for them to return to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Following a meeting with the General, UUP member David Trimble announced that his party would rerum to Stormont, thereby preventing the collapse of all the institutions by a matter of hours. He later renominated his colleagues to the parliament.

President George Bush praised the IRA for its move. Taoiseach Bertie Ahem said it was an unparalled breakthrough, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair described it as a milestone for the North.

This is without a doubt the most significant move within the republican movement since the organization declared its first ceasefire in 1994. In a statement, the organization said it had made the move in order to save the peace process and to persuade others of its genuine intentions.

“The IRA is committed to our republican objectives and to the establishment of a united Ireland based on justice, equality and freedom,” the statement began.

Outlining its engagement with the Decommissioning Commission, the IRA blamed the British government for introducing decommissioning to the political process and using it to bludgeon them at every opportunity.

“In order to overcome this and to encourage the changes necessary for a lasting peace, the [IRA] has taken a number of initiatives [regarding arms].

“No-one should doubt the difficulties these initiatives cause for us, our volunteers and our supporters,” they warned. “The political process is now on the point of collapse. Such a collapse would certainly, and eventually, put the overall peace process in jeopardy.”

Bertie Ahem predicted that the move would pave the way for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. “Today’s historic developments are profoundly important,” he said. “The Government recognizes the full import of what this decision has meant for the IRA and welcomes it as an historic and substantial contribution to the peace process.”

Full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, he said, meant a new beginning to policing and a progressive rolling program reducing the levels of British troops and military installations in the North.

And, as a response, Northern Secretary John Reid announced that four military installations will be immediately removed. Troop levels are to be immediately reduced, and people charged with crimes or threatened with extradition for crimes committed before April 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, will not be pursued.

The unprecedented move was signaled one day previously, when Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams announced that he and Martin McGuinness had requested the IRA take the “groundbreaking” step to save the preace process from collapse.

Adams was speaking in Belfast as his colleague and Education Minister, Martin McGuinness, was preparing to deliver a keynote speech in Washington, D.C.., where he met with members of the Bush administration and the Irish-American community. During a Belfast press conference, Adams said that both he and McGuinness had told the IRA that the crisis facing the North’s political institutions would be resolved by a move on weapons.

Adams called the announcement a “defining moment” in the peace process and said that many people were frustrated and angry over the crisis in the political process.

He was referring to a recent walkout of the Northern Assembly by Ulster Unionist David Trimble and other UUP Ministers, as well as by the Democratic Unionist Party, led by Ian Paisley. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Dr. John Reid had to decide whether to suspend the institutions yet again, to allow time for further negotiation between the parties.

Adams said the Ulster Unionists were using the issue of decommissioning to undermine the Belfast Agreement. But the issue of British weapons, not just IRA weapons, must also be resolved, he said. “Our commitment to the process is absolute.” He predicted that some people would claim the IRA had acted under pressure, while others would disparage any move they made.

“Everyone else knows that the IRA is not an organization that bows to pressure or which moves on British or Unionist terms. IRA volunteers have a view of themselves and a vision of the Ireland they want to be a part of. This is what will shape their attitute to this issue. Republicans in Ireland and elsewhere will have to strategically think this issue through,” Adams commented.

He asked Republicans to do their best to prevent the situation from sliding back into conflict, and he praised IRA members, saying they had been “at the heartbeat of the struggle for justice and freedom.

“In my view the IRA is genuinely committed to building a peace process in which the objectives of Irish republicanism can be argued and advanced. The Army has repeatedly demonstrated leadership and patience and vision and I respect absolutely its right to make its own decision on this issue. I would appeal to Republicans to stay united. I would particularly appeal to IRA volunteers and their families and to the IRA support base to stay together in comradeship. This is the time for commitment to the Republican cause. It is a time for clear heads and brave hearts.”

He also added that other parties to the process should show vision and generosity, as this would turn the current difficulties around and “transform a crisis-riven process into an organic and a people-centered movement towards a democratic peace settlement.” ♦

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Loyalist Ceasefires Declared Over Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:56:51 +0000 Read more..]]> The Northern Secretary John Reid announced recently that he considered the ceasefires of three loyalist groups to be over. The actions of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were so blatant and persistent that they could no longer be ignored by politicians.

The move came mostly in response to the murder of Northern journalist Martin O’Hagan, who was shot dead as he walked home from the pub with his wife, Marie, in Lurgan, County Armagh, in October. Mr. O’Hagan, 51, saved his wife from injury by pushing her into a hedge as the couple came under attack. He is also survived by three daughters.

Mr. O’Hagan reported on the activities of loyalist groups for the Sunday World newspaper, and his death is believed to have been carried out by the so-called Loyalist Volunteer Force although responsibility was claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by several loyalist groups.

He was shot a number of times and lay bleeding on the street when he was found by his eldest daughter, Cara. He was the first journalist to be murdered by paramilitaries in the North, and his funeral was attended by hundreds of journalists in a show of solidarity. The National Union of Journalists in Dublin opened a book of condolences at its offices in Liberty Hall.

NUJ spokesman Kevin Cooper said Martin O’Hagan was not aware that his life was in danger. “Martin had no sense that he was under threat other than the fact that obviously he was under the attention of both republican and loyalist paramilitaries for the stories he had done in the past.”

Mr. O’Hagan’s widow, Marie, appealed for no revenge attacks to be carried out in her husband’s name. She urged her daughters not to be overcome with hatred following their father’s murder. “That is how Martin brought them up and that is how it shall remain,” she said.

Secretary Reid also ruled out the ceasefire of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), suspected to be a cover name for the UDA when it carries out particularly horrific attacks against Catholics. The Ulster Volunteer Force is now the only loyalist organization officially on ceasefire.

“The attacks by these organizations are incompatible with any claims to be on ceasefire,” Reid said. “They have systematically breached their ceasefires and I believe the patience of the people of Northern Ireland has run out. I have therefore decided to specify the UDA and UFF.”

The LVF, he added, was also clearly not on ceasefire, as the RUC had clear evidence linking the group to the journalist’s murder. It is now expected that the ruling will have implications for members of those groups who were released early from prison because of the ceasefires. ♦

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Aer Lingus Survival Package Agreed by EU Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:55:33 +0000 Read more..]]> Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, has been pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy by a deal hammered out between the Irish government and the European Union transport authorities at the eleventh hour. Aer Lingus suffered massive losses in the aftermath of the Twin Towers collapse, and was no longer considered to be commercially viable.

The semi-state body, partly owned by the Irish government, had been the recipient of a number of cash injections in the past to keep it afloat. But such a move was banned by the EU under its rules of competition. It has rejected the possibility of any government giving aid to its national airline, saying the European market was badly in need of restructuring before September 11 and member states should not try to prevent this from happening.

“No direct cash, no aid, no state subsidies,” said EU Transport Minister Loyola de Palacio. However, when it emerged that the Belgian national airline, Sabena, had received money from the Belgian government when it declared insolvency, the Irish government put the pressure on.

Aer Lingus will now receive money on the basis that the government can guarantee it will improve the company’s commercial viability afterwards. If the government can show it is acting like a rational investor, the state aid will not be deemed illegal, it seems. “We will say no to state aid and subsidies but we don’t say no to public investment,” said Ms. de Palacio.

“If there are options of returning Aer Lingus to profitability and at the same time avoiding a direct state aid, then there is a possibility,” another EU official told newspapers.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahem warned workers at the airline that a complete restructuring is on the cards, and it seems that thousands of jobs could be shed. “Aer Lingus at all levels has to work to get an agreement on that plan and when that happens, we can see where the resolution will be.”

It is believed that as many as 40 per cent of the workforce will be asked to accept redundancy, and the first notices have already been sent out to 600 part-time workers. Aer Lingus is losing two million per day, and would survive only weeks without help. A number of its transatlantic routes have already been slashed, including Ireland/Newark and Ireland/ Baltimore/Washington. A number of other routes have been scaled back. ♦

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Protests at Catholic School Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:54:46 +0000 Read more..]]> North Belfast, Oct. 23 – Loyalist protestors who have spent the last eight weeks blocking Catholic children from entering their school were threatened with legal action if they do not call off their protests.

The governors of the Holy Cross School in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast announced they were going to the High Court if the stand-off continued.

The protestors came in for international derision when they were seen around the globe on TV spitting at four-year-old girls and calling them names, throwing stones and cursing. School Board chairman Fr. Aidan Troy said: “We are seeing 220 children being physically, emotionally and spiritually abused. I am watching them deteriorate before my eyes. That is not good enough.”

And the head of the North’s Human Rights Commission, Bryce Dickson, accompanied the children as they walked into their school in a show of solidarity. The protests have been going on for weeks against the backdrop of loyalist complaints that nationalists have been encroaching on their neighborhood and that they are surrounded and are being mistreated by them. But loyalists have scaled down protests following the global recriminations, and now simply turn their backs on the children and blow air whistles as they pass.

But three Catholic parents were told that death threats had been issued against them by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the Ulster Defence Association. And a large police presence is permanently in the area after a pipe bomb attack on the children, which was condemned both nationally and internationally.

President Bush’s special envoy for Ireland, Richard Haass, said he condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack on the young girls.

The principal of the Holy Cross School, Anne Tanney, has been trying to “normalize” things for her young pupils since the protests began. Ironically, four years ago she found a quotation from Abraham Lincoln which she thought would be appropriate to hang in the entrance hall. It reads: “If we had been born where they were born. Taught what they were taught. We would believe what they believe.” She told reporters that that’s what they have always tried to teach the children in the school, long before the protests started. ♦

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RUC Guilty in 1969 Attack Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:53:39 +0000 Read more..]]> The family of a Derry man who died in 1969 three months after being savagely beaten in his home by the RUC have welcomed a move by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan which upheld a complaint by the family that the RUC dealt with their concerns inappropriately at the time.

While the Ombudsman said she did not believe that disciplinary action could now be taken against former RUC officers who may know the truth about the “appalling attack” by colleagues 32 years ago, she said it was highly regrettable that the then Chief Constable, Sir Arthur Young, did not deal with the family appropriately.

Sammy Devenny, 42, died three months after he, his children and others were beaten with batons and kicked by RUC men in his home on William Street in April 1969. The failure to prosecute anyone in connection with his death led to widespread protests and seriously damaged relationships between the RUC and nationalists.

Nuala O’Loan said she upheld the family’s complaint that the RUC never communicated directly to the family news about the inquiry and its investigations. She said she had agreed to examine a fresh complaint because the case was “grave and exceptional.” However, she had not carried out a new investigation of the facts; rather, she had examined an “extensive and thorough” unpublished report carried out by Metropolitan Police Officers under Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury, known as the Drury Report.

When she had asked the RUC for a copy of the report, they claimed they did not have one. Ms. O’Loan obtained one from an unspecified source. The report unveiled how Mr. Devenny, his son and two friends stood at their from door, watching riots in the street. A number of youths pushed past them, and police then forced the door open.

“The report says that officers beat Mr. Devenny about the head and kicked and batoned him in front of his younger children…It says he was left lying on the floor with blood pouting from a number of head wounds and with his dentures and spectacles broken,” Ms. O’Loan said.

The Drury Report says 16-year-old Catherine Devenny was also attacked, as she was lying on a couch recovering from surgery. She was batoned pulled off the sofa and kicked, before she lost consciousness. And 18-year-old Anne Devenny, who lay across her father in an effort to protect him, was kicked and thrown across the room. Sammy’s son, Harry, and two other men were also attacked. Sammy Devenny was treated in hospital and readmitted within days for a coronary. He died within three months.

Ms. O’Loan said the Drury Report did not say who carried out the attacks, but identified four officers who knew what had happened but were afraid of retaliation if they spoke out. However, she thought it would be impossible to discipline them after all this time.

Mr. Harry Devenny said the Report comes too late for his deceased mother, but could help the family “along the road to emotional closure.” The family also wants the RUC to publicly respond to the report. ♦

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Ireland’s National Day of Mourning Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:52:09 +0000 Read more..]]> Thousands of people queued for hours in front of the American Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin, waiting patiently to sign one of the many books of condolences to be presented to the U.S. government in the aftermath of September 11. At John F. Kennedy’s ancestral home in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford, the U.S. flag flew at half-mast and the house was closed to visitors.

As it was on the day that he was assassinated, everyone remembers where they were on September 11. But on September 14 in Ireland, the churches were full and the offices, shops and pubs dark and silent as the country mourned with its American relatives, colleagues and friends. The day was declared by the Irish government as a National Day of Mourning.

Bouquets of flowers, teddy bears, candles and messages were left at the Embassy, as thousands stood with heads bowed. The building’s facade was turned into a shrine to those who died in New York and Washington, and there were both tears and applause when 250 firefighters from all over Ireland paraded past the Embassy as a mark of respect to the hundreds of firefighters lost in New York. People wept openly as they heard of the casualties and more details emerged of that terrible morning.

The nation prayed as industrial and commercial life came to a halt and offices, government departments and all places of entertainment closed for mourning. In every parish and diocese religious services were held, with the biggest, an ecumenical service in Dublin, being attended by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, President Mary McAleese and many other cabinet members. At least 2,000 people tried to squeeze into the Pro-Cathedral, which holds only 1,500. Outside, a group of U.S. students broke into the American national anthem, and the crowd fell still.

The bells of Christ Church Cathedral rang muffled for 90 minutes to mark the occasion, and at 11 a.m. towns and villages fell silent as the people joined in a European-wide three minutes of silence. At noon, all trains stopped for five minutes and special services were held in practically every town in the country. In Bray, County Wicklow, so many people showed up that the church ran out of communion. A number of people approaching the altar were given a blessing instead.

People are still dealing with the aftermath of the attacks. In Dublin’s universities, Irish students who were present in New York at the time are being offered free counseling to help them deal with the “nightmares and flashbacks.”

And a fund for the families of the victims started by Independent News and Media, which donated the money from the sales of all its newspapers on September 14, reached more than 120,000 punts. It was given to The American Ireland Fund in the presence of U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Richard Egan. Money is still being collected throughout the country. ♦

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Tourism Slump Predicted To Hit Economy Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:51:08 +0000 Read more..]]> Ireland is facing its worst tourism slump in more than ten years as a result of the attacks on the U.S. and the foot and mouth crisis which hit earlier in the year.

Tourism Minister Jim McDaid promised to do whatever possible to minimize the adverse impact on the industry, as he released the statistics for the second quarter of the year. Between now and the end of December, it was expected that an estimated 320,000 Americans would visit Ireland, but now a figure of 100,000 is seen as optimistic.

In 2000, some 6.3 million foreign visitors to Ireland were recorded, boosting tourism earnings to 2.9 billion punts, and it was hoped to increase that number by five per cent this year. A new marketing campaign is being started by the tourism board, Bord Failte, in a last ditch attempt to persuade Americans to travel.

But it is not only the tourism industry that is being affected. The downturn in the economy is being felt in every sector, but most noticeably in the IT sector, where American multinationals have dominated the Irish marketplace. A number of prominent U.S. companies have announced job cuts, and the computer giant Gateway is closing its entire plant before Christmas. Intel has stopped construction work on its new premises in Kildare and has let go all contractors and part-time staff. It also introduced an early redundancy policy to wipe out jobs.

A leading economist has predicted that 10,000 jobs could be lost this year in the technology sector. And in America, Brendan Walsh of the Smurfit School of Business said the outlook for the Irish economy is more somber than it has been in ten years. ♦

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Hearts & Soles of Gold Sat, 01 Dec 2001 08:50:17 +0000 Read more..]]> On September 4 Collier Wimmer of Winston-Salem, North Carolina turned nine. On September 11 she was in Disneyworld to celebrate her and her little brother’s birthdays. At 8:42 a.m., 2,000 miles away, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Collier’s mother, Ashley Wimmer, wished her children hadn’t seen the horrible images. “We had the TV on and since we were traveling, we couldn’t screen them from it. They saw a lot.”

And what Collier saw affected her. Like so many other school children across the country, she sought a way to help. She says, “I saw a girl on TV who was raising money for the rescuers and I wanted to do something.”

“She wanted to go around door-to-door,” explains her mother, “but I said, `Why don’t you do something in the front yard.'”

Collier decided that she would dance, Irish step dance, to raise money for the relief effort.

“We were passing a store with poster board, and I said, `Alright, go ahead.’ Collier went and made the poster herself.”

Her idea to raise money through Irish dance is even more unusual when you discover that Collier isn’t Irish, “not a drop” as far as her parents know.

She began dancing two years ago. “I saw Lord of the Dance and I said, `I want to dance! I wanna dance!’ And now I do!”

Her mother describes her love of Irish dancing as nothing less than “a passion.” But it is Collier’s compassion that has attracted many fans. Her dancing was “not your typical lemonade stand.” It captured the eye of a neighbor who called the local newspaper. They sent photographer Ted Richardson and the photo was picked up by the Associated Press. Then it was featured as picture of the week on MSNBC’s website, and in Newsweek.

The response has been “amazing and unbelievable,” according to Collier’s mother. “And not only locally. We’ve received checks from Washington State, Vermont, and Florida. And just the sweetest notes.”

Collier tries to downplay the letters. “They say things like they’re really proud of me. Proud, proud, proud, proud — they all say `proud.'” As mature as she tries to be, the rising of her voice betrays her; it’s all still very exciting. Her brother, age five, doesn’t understand all the commotion. “Every time a car comes up, he runs and takes the money! He thinks it’s for him!” she squeals. But her laughter fades when she remembers seeing the footage over and over again on the news. “I was very sad. I was really mad at those people. And it’s so hard to understand that God still loves them.” ♦

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