Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shannon could lose U.S. troop transfers to Germany

Shannon could lose U.S. troop transfers to Germany

Shannon Airport, long seen as teetering on the brink, could face the loss of hugely valuable U.S. troop transfers after Germany’s Leipzig airport tabled a major bid for the multi-million euro business.

The Co. Clare airport has recently seen devastating cutbacks by major carriers such as Ryanair, and is expected to next year face a 60pc drop in passenger throughput compared to 2006 figures. Ryanair, to this point Shannon's major carrier, recently cut its operations at the airport after failing to secure a discounted landing charges deal, and its presence at the hub will shortly drop to just a single plane.

It is estimated that over one million U.S. troops have passed through Shannon en route to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006, with nearly 250,000 passing through in 2009. The business generated by the troop transfers was said to be worth in excess of €9 million last year alone.

With Operation Iraqi Freedom ending on August 31st and the non-combat Operation New Dawn in effect from September 1st, the numbers of military personnel coming through Shannon were expected to drop sharply even before the Leipzig bid surfaced.

The Dublin Airport Authority, which effectively controls both Shannon and Cork, is under mounting pressure amidst rapidly worsening trading performances at what are Ireland's two key regional airports.

From a high of 3.6 million passengers in 2006 and 2007, Shannon’s figures decreased to 3.2 million in 2008 before dropping to 2.8 million last year. It is anticipated this year's number will drop by almost half to 1.5 million.

The downturn has led to immense frustration from business and tourism leaders in the region, with the airport’s board accused of failing to outline clearly the future plans for the hub.

The news will be well-received in some circles however, as the U.S. military’s use of Shannon is seen by many as a violation of Ireland’s neutrality. Since the transits began, the Irish Anti-War Movement and other groups have held a number of protests at the airport, which is also thought to have been used for so-called extraordinary rendition flights by the CIA and U.S. military.

In September 2008 the UN Human Rights Committee expressed its concerns about allegations that Irish airports were being used as stop off points for flights carrying persons to countries where they risk being tortured.

Labour Transport spokesman Joe Costello, speaking recently at a foreign policy conference organized by the Irish Anti-War Movement, said:

"There is need for a…statement that the Island of Ireland, its people, resources and facilities will not be involved actively or passively in external aggression."


Let's make no mistake about it. If the vast amount of income and hundreds of jobs at Shannon Airport are transferred to Germany, much of the blame can be attributed to the misguided far left "whackos" who conducted the despicable demonstrations against our valiant American troops. First of all, these grossly misguided demonstrators continue to labor under the illusion of "Irish neutrality" which is not enshrined in the Irish Constitution and exists only in the minds of those who wish that it was. Secondly, the only difference between our American troops passing through Shannon and any other passengers is the camouflage uniforms they wear.They carry no arms nor do the aircraft that they travel in. Indeed, most of the aircraft are owned by commercial carriers under contract to the U.S. government. Thirdly, it is nothing short of stupidity for a country on the brink of complete financial disaster to throw away multi millions of Euro and much needed jobs to support a policy of "Irish neutrality" which, in fact, does not even exist. God Bless our Troops and God Bless America!

Proudly posted by,

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Government unveils new plan to create 300,000 jobs

Government unveils new plan to create 300,000 jobs

Taoiseach Brian Cowen launches a major new integrated plan aimed at generating up to 300,000 jobs

LUKE CASSIDY – Irish Times – 28 September 2010

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced a major new integrated plan for trade, tourism and investment in Dublin today that is aimed at generating up to 300,000 jobs.

The Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy strategy also intends to boost Irish exports by one third.

The plan will promote overseas trade, tourism and investment and be integrated across a range of Government departments.

It aims to create over 150,000 new jobs in manufacturing, tourism and internationally trading services directly, with another 150,000 generated through spin-offs.

Unveiling the plan, the Taoiseach said international trade, tourism and investment are 'crucial' to the creation and protection of jobs.

“This new integrated action plan will ensure a sharp focus across the entire Government system on opening new markets for Irish firms, creating many thousands of new jobs, repositioning Ireland in the international marketplace and bringing a new business focus to our diplomatic missions abroad," the Taoiseach said. "To recover from the current unprecedented economic crisis, we need new thinking about our country and her place in the world.”

He said the 21st century will see new powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China, in the Middle East and Africa emerging and Ireland must seize these opportunities.

The five-year plan hopes to increase the number of overseas visitors to the country to eight million and attract an extra 780 foreign investment projects through IDA Ireland. Agency-assisted indigenous exports totalled almost €13 billion last year, and the plan aims to increase this by €4 billion by 2015.

It will also see the establishment of a new Foreign Trade Council comprising all relevant departments and agencies to implement the plan.

The roles of the council will be to devise new common "brand Ireland" initiatives, exploit marketing platforms such as St Patrick’s Day and trade missions, open new markets for Irish enterprises, align visa policy with business interests and maximise the effectiveness of overseas diplomatic and agency representatives.

Mr Cowen talked about tapping into the “huge and willing resource” of the Irish diaspora and using the immigrant community within the country to help build up trade and investment abroad.

The Taoiseach was joined at the launch this morning by the Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe, Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin, Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and Minister for Trade and Commerce Billy Kelleher.

Mr O’Keeffe said the plan would strengthen Ireland’s trade links through a joined-up approach and by increasing the destination of indigenous exports into new high-growth target markets such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, Japan and the Gulf States.

In terms of tourism Ms Hanafin said the short term focus will be on growing numbers in markets such as the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. However, she added that the Asia Pacific region will present the fastest growing outbound markets over the next 15 years.

Mr Smith said the strategy will help agencies such as Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara to expand their market share overseas.


This seems like a plan that is more ambitious than it is workable. But, given the deplorable economic and employment situation in Ireland today, anything to possibly improve them is certainly worth consideration. The Irish people are on the verge of being subjected to what has been described as “savage cuts in government services” when the budget is announced in early December. Maybe news such as this can provide them with some degree of hope that better days may lie ahead.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Northern leaders turned down papal invitation

Northern leaders turned down papal invitation


NORTHERN IRELAND’S First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness did not accept invitations to meet with Pope Benedict XVI in Edinburgh in an effort to avoid causing difficulties for either of them, both men confirmed last night.

Up to now, because of their opposing political and religious allegiances, there was an unspoken protocol whereby Mr Robinson and before him, former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley, would deal with British royal business, while papal matters would be left to Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness.

The invitation posed particular difficulties for Mr Robinson, who would have attended the Holyroodhouse reception with the pope and Queen Elizabeth, while his predecessor-in-office, Ian Paisley, was in the city protesting at Pope Benedict’s state visit.

Meanwhile, the German cardinal who caused a diplomatic flurry just hours before the pope’s visit has refused to apologise for describing the UK as an “aggressively atheistic society” and for saying that Heathrow airport looks like something from the Third World.

Leading British clerics, led by the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, had issued several calls for an apology for the “intemperate remarks” of Cardinal Walter Kasper, a confidante of the pope.

Standing by the comments, the cardinal’s spokesman claimed that he had merely highlighted the UK’s ethnic make-up: “Kasper meant to say there are people there from all around the world and you could be in Mumbai, Kinshasa, Islamabad or Nairobi,” said Msgr Oliver Lahl.

“It was not a negative connotation, it was the opposite of racism. He meant the UK is no longer a mono-ethnic or mono-religious state, and can be a positive example for Europe,” said Msgr Lahl.

The cardinal is particularly standing by his charge that the Catholic Church in the UK faces an “aggressive new atheism”, particularly from writers such as Richard Dawkins, whose work is not simply academic and whose books sell out, said Msgr Lahl.

“Christianity is no longer protected like other religions in the UK and it is easier for journalists and writers to attack Christians. Atheism is returning after 20 years off the radar with a very aggressive agenda,” he said.

Pope Benedict will today meet with the global head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, following months of tensions between the Vatican and the Anglicans over the future of conservative priests in the Anglican Church.

The two men met briefly yesterday at a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh, but they will be joined by some of their bishops for this evening’s meeting in Lambeth Palace in London.

Last October, the Vatican caused dismay among many Anglicans when it offered to recruit Anglican priests unhappy with the direction their church was taking, without them having to give up Anglican traditions, including the right for clergy to be married.

The second day of the pope’s visit will concentrate in London, beginning with a speech to 3,000 students and teachers at St Mary’s University in Twickenham outside London to celebrate Catholic education.

The highlight of his trip will be tonight’s Westminster Hall speech to political and civic leaders, which is expected to focus strongly on the need for a religious influence in society at large and the need for religious organizations to play a vocational role in society.


God forbid that their presence at the historic visit of our Holy Father to the UK would cause any undue difficulties for the First and Deputy First Ministers of the N.I. Assembly. If Catholicism is synonymous with Republicanism and Protestantism is synonymous with Unionism as we have been taught for so many years, I fear that we still have a very long and rocky road to travel before we see a true “shared society” in the North of Ireland.