June July 2018 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Sat, 20 Jul 2019 03:40:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Mary Kay Henry: A New Deal for America’s Working Poor https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/mary-kay-henry-a-new-deal-for-americas-working-poor/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/mary-kay-henry-a-new-deal-for-americas-working-poor/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 05:59:59 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36154 Read more..]]> Mary Kay Henry, the international president of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union talks to Patricia Harty about the Fight for $15 (minimum wage) campaign, how Trump is ruining America, and growing up Catholic, one of 10 children, in a Detroit suburb.

Mary Kay Henry knew early on in life that she wanted to be involved in some kind of advocacy work. As a kid growing up in Detroit, she was keenly aware of the work that the socially-conscious United Automobile Workers (UAW) was doing in helping to foster a new middle class through higher wages and company benefits. By the time she finished college in 1978, however, the prosperity that the UAW had helped bring to Detroit was waning, and Mary Kay’s first job after graduation from Michigan State with a B.A. in urban planning and labor relations, was in a neighborhood where an auto plant had closed. Through that job, enrolling people who were eligible for food stamps, she learned “it wasn’t a handout that people wanted,” but a hand up. She joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1979 as a researcher. Thirty years later, having proven her skills as a leader and organizer in California where she created unprecedented union growth in the healthcare industry, she was elected international president of the two-million-member SEIU in May of 2010 — the first woman to serve in the position.

Mary Kay, who I first met in 2015 and who shares my Tipperary roots, is articulate, outspoken, and fearless in the fight to raise the minimum wage. She brings to mind Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, the fiery Irish-born leader of the mine workers during the early part of the 20th century. Read on to learn more about the $15 campaign, why we must protect and defend against attacks on immigrants, and what she thinks of Donald Trump.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry delivers a speech at a Home Care Workers Union rally. (Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

In a group you can make anything happen.

I grew up in a family of 10 children and I am the oldest daughter. I have two older brothers, so I am the third oldest in the line of 10, and I have a visceral feeling about when you move together in a group you can make anything happen. I learned that at a very early age.

People don’t want handouts.

Growing up in a Catholic household where we very much focused on the needs of the poor, my family tradition was not about charity, but about justice. People don’t want handouts or charity – people wanted to be able to provide for themselves and their families and have a more just society. You couldn’t grow up in Detroit in 1950s and 1960s and not understand that UAW was making life better for everybody in the state.

Supporting the $15 movement.

[The union support] grew out of an analysis that we needed to add something to our organizing efforts, which was to support the demands of minimum wage workers and try to think about how to organize millions more. We could keep organizing the way we knew how and grow by a million workers every ten years or so. If we did that, we would be losing ground because the attack on unions was such that it became a matter of sticking with the movement and continuing to insist on not just $15 but on being unionized. SEIU is completely committed to these [fast food] workers being able to ultimately win their union.

Mary Kay Henry with Home Care members at a 2016 Democratic National Convention reception. (Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

The next American middle class.

We hope to get the multinationals [corporations] to our bargaining table in 2021 or 2022 and create sectorial bargaining for all fast food workers. And we would like it to spread to the entire service and care workforce – home care workers, childcare workers, retail workers – all these workers that have been structured into these poverty wage jobs.

We think it should be the foundation of the next American middle class that includes everybody this time because many, many people in the last American middle class were excluded.

Uniting organizing demands with political demands.

It is going to take us changing the politics of the United States, so we hope to make progress in this midterm election and create more organizations of fast food workers in cities and states. We have a specific focus on the Midwest elections. We are uniting our organizing demands with our political demands. We shouldn’t allow the extremists in our country to suppress the votes of poor white, black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

There is a lot of evidence – Kentucky, West Virginia, who held special elections – that most of the American people have had it and they are willing to show up and vote and make it clear that the current president doesn’t represent the majority in this nation.

Henry marches at a Fight for $15 convention in Richmond, Virginia, 2016. (Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

The current administration is a moral outrage.

The idea of deciding what food SNAP recipients (food stamp recipients) will get is just one example of how insulting the current administration is towards justice in this country. We think that this administration is a moral outrage. And that is true for how it has treated immigrants, how it’s treated Muslims, how it’s treated young people, how it’s dealt with the issue of gun violence, how it is dealing with our partners around the world. I would say overwhelmingly, on every issue that matters to our members, this administration has failed us.

Broken promises.

The tax cut was a huge broken promise by this president. He promised that he was going to make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share and make sure that people who are working hard for a living get their fair shot. There is no action or policy that he’s taken that is making that happen for the vast majority of working people in this nation. We think that this administration is a moral outrage.

We protect and defend against the attack on immigrants.

Our union was born by immigrants – window washers and janitors in the city of Chicago. I am sure there were Irish, Polish, Italian and other immigrants in the founding of our union back in 1921. About a third of our union members are recent immigrants and our union has been proud to change the American labor movement policy to welcome immigrants [undocumented] back in 2000. We have done a lot on the temporary protected status, on DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]. We see that as a core mission of our union – to ensure that we protect and defend against the attack on immigrants, but we are also fighting for the full inclusion of immigrants as citizens in our democracy.

Mary Kay Henry speaks at the SEIU 2016 Convention.Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

We share your concern for how the institutional church interacted with the healthcare debate.

We [the SEIU] believe in the separation of church and state. We believe in religious freedom. We think every woman should be able to exercise her own conscience. We worked a lot with our Catholic healthcare employers.

Some of whom were against what the institutional church did in the U.S. because they understood that they are serving a secular population, not just Catholics, and so they couldn’t (shouldn’t) impose Catholic teaching or belief for hospitals especially.

We did a lot to advocate for Catholic employers ensuring equal access to all kinds of healthcare coverage, including reproductive services. So I think we share your concern for how the institutional church interacted with the healthcare debate.

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Sister Carol Keehan’s bold stance on the issue.

There were some very good Catholic healthcare employers that are run by religious women who we think did the right thing and tried to respect the institution of Church while also saying, “Hey, we receive Medicaid and Medicare dollars from U.S. taxpayers and therefore we should be held accountable for making sure that people have equal access to all kinds of services.”

We have seen Sister Carol Keehan on behalf of the Catholic Health Association who took a very bold stand on that issue, making sure that Catholic healthcare employers did the right thing for everybody.

Henry with a union member at SEIU’s Member Political Organizer bus kickoff in California. (Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

Wake me up when the Teamsters elect a woman.

I am the first woman president in SEIU. The teachers’ unions both have women presidents and have had previous women presidents; the flight attendants had a woman president, the nurses associations – but [SEIU] is probably the first large private sector union that has had a woman. There was a Nicole Hollander cartoon when I was first elected saying, “Oh, my gosh isn’t that incredible!” and then the Nicole Hollander character said back to the cat that is talking to her, “Wake me when the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO elect a woman.”

Organize and listen.

The thing that got me here [the top job] is that I did some organizing work in California, which was a huge breakthrough for our union. We organized not just one hospital at the time but a whole system. So, I have been accomplished in terms of the union’s core mission to grow and expand, plus the way I lead, which is not to just lead based on what I think, but lead based on listening and creating as much internal political will and unity as I could in, frankly, what I find to be one of the toughest times to lead in the labor movement.

A make-or-break year for the American labor movement.

We are at the height of extremists’ attack on the union. It has been building for forty years, but this is a make-or-break year for the American labor movement and I can’t think of a better time to be a leader who can listen and build unity.

With SEIU Healthcare Canada president Sharleen Stewart (left) and Deborah Mathews (center), deputy premier of Ontario, at the IEB meeting in Montreal, September 2015. (Photo: Kristopher Price / SEIU)

The growth of the Lavender Caucus.

I have been very public about my lesbian identity in this union for my entire 36 years. [Henry is married to Paula Macchello, now retired as an organizer for the Teamsters.] The AIDS epidemic in our union allowed for our healthcare workers to become frontline advocates to make sure that healthcare workers had the protection they needed to care for people with AIDS in the early stages of the epidemic. It also was a way to advocate for dignity and respect.

I would argue that a lot of the Lavender Caucus organizing grew up around that issue – protecting healthcare workers, but also fighting for dignity and respect for people with AIDS, and then that moved to educating our coworkers about domestic partnership benefits and trying to make sure that collective bargaining kind of set the precedent for the rest of the country for health insurance for the LGBT people.

Reaction to Ireland’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

I was totally delighted by it! It is fantastic.

The plan. Creating a path for the next middle class.

We want to end poverty-wage work in America. That is our number one agenda. We are bound and determined to make sure that minimum wage underpaid service and care workers, fast food, janitors, airport workers, home care workers, childcare workers can use collective bargaining to create a path to the next American middle class. In that agenda, we fight for healthcare for all, we fight for citizenship for immigrants, we fight for racial justice for the black community, but I think what galvanizes us across all of our differences is ending poverty. ♦

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First Word: “Love More” https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/first-word-love-more/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/first-word-love-more/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:58:14 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36164 Read more..]]> “Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”

— The definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams, 1931

 

In this issue we turn from the turmoil swirling around the world and focus on the people – past and present – who have hunkered down and made a difference; people who restore our faith in human nature, proof that the good outweighs the bad; that America’s future can and will be brighter. Love More will trump Hate.

We have to believe that going forward, the world will know more Bobby Kennedys, more Eunice Shrivers, more organizations like Concern, and more Mary Kay Henrys who will step up and stand out and speak out for a better deal for all, no matter the race, color, creed, gender, ability, or disability.

Someone like Mary Kay Henry, who says that it’s not alright to have to work three jobs on minimum wage to put a roof over your head. As the first woman to lead the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), her phenomenal efforts on behalf of the working poor brings two other labor leaders to mind, both Irish and both women.

You can’t talk labor issues without including Mother Jones, the Cork-born Mary Harris who led miners and their families in a battle for better pay and working conditions until her death in 1930. (“I’m not a humanitarian. I’m a hellraiser.”)

The second is the Belfast-born Inez McCormack, the first female president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Inez organized striking hospital workers in Belfast and successfully campaigned for the inclusion of strong equality and human rights provisions in the Good Friday Agreement, the 20th anniversary of which is also covered in this issue.

It was at an event commemorating McCormack, who passed away in 2013, that I first met Mary Kay Henry. The venue was SEIU local 1199 headquarters on 42nd Street, and the room was filled with union members, mostly women, mostly immigrant home care workers. What I remember clearly from that evening, three years on, is how a woman in the audience, an immigrant from Columbia, shyly stood up and in halting English said, “Thank you for caring.”

As Inez herself once said, “There is nothing like seeing the glint in the eye of the woman who thought she was nobody and now realizes she’s somebody.”

One of the speakers at the McCormack event mentioned that the SEIU was Martin Luther King’s favorite union. The black leader was gunned down on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, where he was supporting striking sanitation workers. This year, fast-food workers striking across the mid-South were joined by workers from that 1968 sanitation strike, connecting the important historic action 50 years ago to today’s walk-out campaign by minimum wage earners.

For us, Irish and others, the death of King will be forever linked to Robert F. Kennedy’s emotional appeal for calm in the aftermath of the shooting. In a black neighborhood in Indianapolis, he broke the news of King’s death and shared with the grieving crowd his own pain on the assassination of his brother.

“We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization – black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another,” he said.

“Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”

Two months later, on June 5, 1968, Kennedy himself was gunned down in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic primary. The man perceived by many to be the only person in American politics who could unite the people was dead. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary, the Kennedy/King Memorial Initiate will hold several events in Indianapolis to commemorate Kennedy’s memorable message of peace. And in this issue, Chris Matthews marks the anniversary by writing about Kennedy’s humanity and love of the underdog, and where he thinks that came from.

Bobby’s sister, Eunice, also featured in this issue, passed away on August 11, 2009, but her legacy lives on in the Special Olympics, which also marks its 50th anniversary this year, as does Concern Worldwide, the Irish-born relief organization that serves the poorest of the poor.

In his Indianapolis speech about King’s death, Bobby Kennedy said, “It is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.” Fifty years later, we are still asking that question. Could the answer be simply to put a little more love in our hearts? Kristopher Price, who took the cover photo of Mary Kay Henry in front of the “Love More” graffiti sign on a boarded-up building in Washington, D.C., certainly thinks so, and so do I.

Mórtas Cine. ♦

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Pro-Choice Campaign Pops Up in London https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/pro-choice-campaign-pops-up-in-london/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/pro-choice-campaign-pops-up-in-london/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:57:00 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36362 Read more..]]> An Irish fashion designer took over a shop window in London’s high-end Selfridges’ department store to protest Ireland’s 8th Amendment, which prohibits abortion, in support of the referendum vote scheduled to take place on May 25 on whether to repeal the amendment.

Richard Malone, a County Wexford native known for his eco-conscious designs and who has been written up by the likes of Vogue and the Museum of Modern Art, was set to hold a 24-hour pop-up window in the Oxford Street store in April describing his own personal definition of luxury as part of Selfridges’ “Anatomy of Luxury” campaign, curated by London-based designer Gareth Pugh.

But, on the day of the installation and wearing a “Read React REPEAL” T-shirt, the 26-year-old designer turned the window into a guerilla campaign in favor of overturning the amendment, writing pro-choice messages and language across the window in red, including “Women’s Rights = Human Rights,” “POWER,” and “Repeal the Eighth” Speaking with the Irish Times, Malone said that the store was unaware of his plan and allowed the window to continue as planned only after he removed the “repeal” slogan from the window. “I am really happy that I had the support from the crowd and were it not for the support of Gareth Pugh and his partner, who curated the whole event, they would have cancelled the whole thing.”

In a joint statement to the Irish Times, Pugh and Selfridges said the store “is a politically neutral safe space for everyone, and it’s regrettable that a platform for celebrated creative talent was commandeered in this manner.”

The window was removed as scheduled following the temporary campaign. ♦

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Harry and Meghan Visit Northern Ireland https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/harry-and-meghan-visit-northern-ireland/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/harry-and-meghan-visit-northern-ireland/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:56:08 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36365 Read more..]]> Prince Harry and his fiancée, Suits star Meghan Markle, made their first joint trip to Northern Ireland in March. The visit was a single day’s excursion, part of a full tour of the U.K. meant to introduce the incoming member of the royal family.

Stopping first in Lisburn, the pair attended a presentation by students swearing to work for peace in Northern Ireland. Sponsored by Co-operation Ireland in support of its “Amazing the Space” initiative, the event hosted 2,500 from both Northern Ireland and the Republic. Markle, of Irish descent on her father’s side, made a memorable impression on the students. “She was so humble and down to earth, so easy to talk to,” commented 17-year-old Amber Hamilton. “She was really interested in the peace pledges we wrote.”

Prince Harry has a special attachment to the program, having launched this year’s activities himself last autumn. The presentation was held at the Eikon Exhibition Centre, on the grounds of the famed Maze prison facility, where I.R.A. prisoners were held during the Troubles.

The pair met Northern Ireland’s most promising entrepreneurs at Catalyst, Inc., a Belfast-based, innovation-geared campus. Their last stop was at Titanic Belfast, a museum providing an in-depth view of the construction of the iconic ship (which was built in Belfast) and its traumatic voyage. ♦

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Tackling Ireland’s Homelessness Crisis https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/tackling-irelands-homelessness-crisis/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/tackling-irelands-homelessness-crisis/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:55:52 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36368 Read more..]]> The housing crisis and collapse of the Celtic Tiger in the first decade of the 2000s led to a major increase in homelessness in Ireland. However, organizations like Merchant’s Quay in Dublin are hoping to help Ireland’s homeless population as well as bring awareness to a crisis that has escalated in recent years.

According to FOCUS Ireland, the increased rates of homelessness is directly caused by Ireland’s lack of social housing provisions and the pressure on the private rental market, leading to rising rent levels and lack of property to rent. As of mid-February 2018, 9,870 people were homeless, an increase of 40 percent from February 2017.

Merchant’s Quay Ireland established Ireland’s first homeless night café in 2015, a place where up to 70 people can eat, shower, and spend the night in a safe and warm environment away from the streets.

In its opening year, according to the Irish Examiner, an average of 47 people per night stayed. In 2016, the percentage increased with 60 people per night, and in 2017, the café had an average of 53 people sleeping at the facility per night with 1,893 first-time clients during the year. These people include 1,789 families with 3,755 children.

Not only does the café provide basic necessities, it also provides facilities for help with drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness as they are also leading causes of homelessness in Ireland. ♦  Dave Lewis

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Ireland Considers Legislation to Restrict International Travel by Convicted Pedophiles https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/ireland-considers-legislation-to-restrict-international-travel-by-convicted-pedophiles/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/ireland-considers-legislation-to-restrict-international-travel-by-convicted-pedophiles/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 05:54:36 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36372 Read more..]]> T.D.s and Senators have been urged to support a new bill – the Sex Offenses (Amendment) Bill 2018 – introduced in Dáil Éireann by Maureen O’Sullivan, T.D., which proposes to restrict the foreign travel of convicted pedophiles. If enacted, Ireland would be the first country in the E.U. to curtail overseas travel by convicted child sex abusers. Australia has already introduced such legislation.

Addressing a press conference in Dublin, Irish Columban missionary Fr. Shay Cullen, who has ministered in the Philippines since 1969, said the bill, if enacted, “will help to curtail child abuse sex tourism and protect children in countries like the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia where child protection laws are weak or not enforced.”

“The aim of this legislation is to protect the vulnerable in those parts of the world where sadly there is little or no child protection. In our globalized world where travel is readily available I believe we must do all we can in Ireland to ensure that our citizens who have been convicted of child sexual abuse, should they be deemed a risk, do not have a free pass to travel to other jurisdictions to abuse children,” O’Sullivan said.

Cullen pointed out that about 4.5 million children are trafficked globally each year in a business that is estimated at $32 billion. He said that in the Philippines there are few reliable statistics of the number of children abused, but UNICEF estimates it at 60,000 annually. ♦

 

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Clothing-Optional Beach Established in Ireland https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/clothing-optional-beach-established-in-ireland/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/clothing-optional-beach-established-in-ireland/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 05:53:46 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36375 Read more..]]> The County Council of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown announced plans in March to accommodate nude bathers at Hawk Cliff beach in Dalkey, County Dublin, making it the first Irish beach to do so. Signs indicating the permissible presence of unclothed beachgoers were posted at Hawk Cliff in April.

In a victory for Ireland’s naturist population, changes to the laws regarding public exposure were made in 2017. The revisions clarify that the act is only criminal if the individual in question aims “to cause fear, distress, or alarm,” or attempts to copulate publicly.

“We don’t go out to offend anyone,” Pat Gallagher, head of the Irish Naturist Association, told the Irish Sun. “We simply want to go there, lie in the sun, get in the water, have a swim, but we don’t want to wear anything, that’s all.”

While other beaches in Ireland still forbid nude sunbathing, many naturists seek secluded portions of traditional beaches to avoid detection. Popular spots include Silver Strand Beach in Barna, County Galway and Brittas Bay in County Wicklow.

The arrangements have upset some local politicians, who claim they were planned without their knowledge. The issue has proven the source of controversy in the past, nude bathers being threatened with arrest on numerous occasions by public officials. ♦

 

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Good Friday Agreement 20th Anniversary Marked in London and Belfast https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/good-friday-agreement-20th-anniversary-marked-in-london-and-belfast/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/good-friday-agreement-20th-anniversary-marked-in-london-and-belfast/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:52:25 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36378 Read more..]]> A night of creative expression recalling the Troubles in Northern Ireland, sponsored by the Irish government in tandem with Poetry Ireland, was exhibited at both the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and the Barbican Centre in London in April in honor of the Good Friday Agreement’s 20-year anniversary. The program, called “A Further Shore,” focused on the necessity of keeping the spirit of goodwill with which the peace agreement was written.

The exhibition boasted high-profile participants, showcasing performances by Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo’s first female president, along with Irish actors Adrian Dunbar, Ciarán Hinds, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Tara Lynne O’Neill. Readings of Irish poetry on the subject dominated the program, including works by Seamus Heaney, Gráinne Tobin, and John Hewitt, and moving musical performances by the Telegraph band and fiddler Ciarán Tourish.

Irish Tánaiste Simon Coveney remarked on the overwhelming spirit of the gathering, calling the performances “powerful, funny, tragic, and evocative,” and further averring that they “reflected on our shared journey towards this extraordinary short.” Prominent Irish newscaster Olivia O’Leary, who acted as the master of ceremonies, tied the event together with her succinct but effective statement: “The language of peace is difficult and it’s taking us – all of us – a long time to learn it.” ♦

 

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New Map Animates Devastation of the Great Hunger https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/new-map-animates-devastation-of-the-great-hunger/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/new-map-animates-devastation-of-the-great-hunger/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 05:51:06 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36382 Read more..]]> Dr. Alan Ferinhough, a lecturer and economic historian at Queen’s University Belfast, recently created an animation of the evolution of Ireland’s population density from 1841 to 2012 showing how the population still hasn’t recovered from the effects of the Great Hunger. In 1841, before the famine struck, the population of Ireland was around 7 million, while today the population is around 5 million.

The map is part of the Irish Famine Project, developed by Ferinhough and research assistant Áine Doran with the financial help of U.K.’s Economic and Social Research Council. According to the project website, the map “examines both the contributing factors and outcomes of the famine” and relies on empirical research compiled from contemporary data sources like the 1841 and 1851 censuses as well as the Relief Commissioner’s reports. The project has developed another map on its website in which one can search their civil parish and can see the effects the famine had on the parish in subsections like the percent of population lost, household heads in agriculture, and literacy rates. ♦ Dave Lewis

 

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Ireland’s Wettest Decade https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/irelands-wettest-decade/ https://irishamerica.com/2018/05/irelands-wettest-decade/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 05:50:31 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=36386 Read more..]]> The years 2006 to 2015 saw the highest average rainfall in Ireland in the past 300 years, according to a study performed at Maynooth University led by Conor Murphy (right). The data, collected from Irish and U.K. records dating back to 1711, confirms what weary residents had already intuited – these ten years saw Ireland’s rainfall nearly double from 42.5 inches per year for the previous three centuries to 78.2 inches per year over the past decade.

“When we look at the long-term context, we see a continuous rise in annual and winter rainfall,” Murphy told Maynooth. “This is consistent with expectations of human-driven climate change.” As for what this means for the future of Ireland’s long-held reputation of a temperate climate, RTÉ meteorologist Ger Fleming says nothing good – winters will become more stormy with increased floods, while summer rains will decrease.

While atypical, these extreme phenomena were glimpsed most recently with superstorm Emma in early March, introducing elevated wind speeds, record temperature lows, and heavy snowfall, leading to airport shutdowns and a number of accidents for citizens unequipped to deal with the severe weather.

Overall, meteorologists predict an irreversible transition to a wetter, warmer climate for Ireland – boding poorly for the agricultural economy. Pádraic Joyce, head of Connacht’s Irish Farmers’ Association, told the Irish Times that the volatile weather is “causing a lot of grief,” making livestock and crop maintenance grueling and costly to an unsustainable degree. ♦

 

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