Saturday, December 24, 2011

U.S. military plane vandalized at Shannon airport

Irish protesters object to US military presence there

ANTOINETTE KELLY, - Irish Central Staff Writer - December 23, 2011

An aircraft used to transport US troops has been damaged in the latest security breach at Shannon airport in Ireland.

A hole was cut in a perimeter fence which allowed vandals access to the Omni Air International DC-10 airliner, where they severed its hydraulics pipe and spray painted the words the words 'US troops out.'

As the aircraft was a replacement plane it was not protected by Irish police or soldiers.

The latest attack comes eight years after a US Navy cargo jet was vandalized twice in a matter of days by Irish anti-war campaigners. At the time the incident forced the Government to provide a greater security presence at the airport.


When are the nit-wits that commit blatant acts of vandalism against privately owned American aircraft and participate in obnoxious demonstrations against American troops ever going to learn? They are biting the hand that feeds them and are on a fast track to the #1 spot on the “stupid meter”. Many of the American troops that their demonstrations are aimed against are sons and daughters and close relatives of their own Irish diaspora and are serving our country with honor and distinction. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t be constantly coming to the U.S. seeking favors and money and then turn around and involve themselves in this very offensive behavior. It will not be tolerated much longer even by those Americans who bend over backwards to help them in so many ways. They would be very well advised to “smarten up” before it is too late.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Irish businessman is released from immigration jail

Irish businessman is released from immigration jail

Relives nightmare experience after two weeks in confinement

Niall O’Dowd, - IrishCentral - December 16, 2011

The nightmare of being plucked from your day to day life and jailed for an indefinite period, not knowing what will become of you, is one most of us will never experience.

A young Irishman picked up outside his home and held for deportation which I wrote about on Thursday experienced that dreadful fate.

I cannot name him for safety reasons but I am pleased to report that has been released from jail where he was being held on the immigration charges.

He has been given a date on which he is to leave the country and his business and successful life behind him.

As we talked he told me he was making every effort with his wife to avoid that fate.

The odds are probably stacked against him but he will make every effort.” I love this country, it has been great to me and my wife, I really want my unborn child to live here and experience how amazing it is “ he said.

As I reported the businessman, who employs 20 workers and whose wife is pregnant, was picked up and jailed, despite the fact that he had no police record was not wanted for any other crime and had simply taken the same path to success in America as millions of Irish before.

However, as he explained to me in an exclusive interview his world came crashing down when he was ready to drive to work one morning two weeks ago.

Armed agents from homeland security were outside his house . For a second he though they were regular police, coming to tell him they had traced the person who was using his stolen credit cards which he had reported.

But they were immigration agents who had traced him after someone turned him in as undocumented.

They has actually visited a previous address in Yonkers seeking him on two different occasions.

He still remembers the sense of fear and dread as the perfectly courteous officers placed him in a car and drove him to jail in Manhattan. “I did not know what would become of me “ he told me .
Ahead was a two week nightmare as he sought to make sense of his predicament .

He had gone in minutes from being a successful businessman with a great future to a name and a number in the American prison system

After spending two days in Manhattan he was transferred to a jail in New Jersey as his wife and friends frantically tried to pin down his location.

The first night he will never forget as he shared a cell with a prisoner who snored so loudly he was completely unable to sleep.

Soon he became attuned to daily life. He did not feel threatened, though he was one of a very fewwhite people being held, the guards he felt were business like and did not hassle him. The terrible uncertainty however gnawed at him.

Outside his wife and friends were frantically trying to find a way to get him released. PresidentObama had recently announced that only criminal aliens would be targeted by the ICE, the immigration and customs enforcement agency .

Why then was a young man who was providing extensive employment in New York, an upstanding member of the community, suddenly finding himself in prison?

We may never know why but on Wednesday after two weeks behind bars he was suddenly told to pack his things and to get ready to leave right away.

He though he was being deported there and then when he sat into the vehicle driving him away from the prison. Instead they told him he was being released and gave him the date when he is supposed to leave the country by.

He is deeply thankful to all who helped get him back to normal. Typically, he was back at work the next day, thankful for the politicians and Irish community leaders who tried to intervene.

“I so much want to stay, to build my life here with my wife and our children” he said.

Whether he will ever be able to achieve that remains a huge question mark.


Unfortunately, this is not an exception to the rule. It goes on every day of the week as attested to by the agencies in cities throughout the U.S. that provide services for Irish immigrants. They are routinely apprehended for minor infractions, detained for extended periods of time in jails with hardened criminals, and eventually deported. There will, most likely, be no change in this abhorrent practice whether or not either of the recently submitted immigration bills, both of which are based on the Australian E-3 visa program, is passed. The E-3 is an employment based non immigrant (temporary) visa which gives precedence to college graduates in specialty fields who wish to emigrate to the U.S. They do little or nothing to address the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the U.S. Unless and until their plight is recognized, addressed, and permanently resolved, these apprehensions, detentions, and deportations will continue unabated and will probably be intensified. It is time for those Americans who never hesitate to proclaim their Irishness to step up to the plate and do something to help our own in their time of need!!!

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, December 12, 2011

Senator Schumer set to introduce immigration bill in Senate to help Irish

Bill would allow up to 10,000 non-immigrant work visas yearly for Irish

Niall O’Dowd, IrishCentral - December 10, 2011, 7:34 AM

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is set to introduce an immigration bill in the senate on Tuesday which would allow up to 10,000 Irish a year to come to America on work visas but not green cards.

Schumer says that leading Democrats Senator Pat Leahy and Senator Richard Durbin will co-sponsor the legislation and he is seeking support from Republican senators as well.

The Schumer move came after he met with 20 Irish community leaders at his New York office on Friday.

The Irish community leaders had expressed their dismay that a bill that passed the House two weeks ago and is now in the senate, allowed more green cards for Chinese, Indian, Filipino and Mexican immigrants but actually took away green cards from Ireland.

The new Schumer move is based on the E3 visas, which were given to Australia some years ago for their support in the Gulf War. Under the terms of the visa up to 10,000 Australians a year can come to America once they have a job offer and can renew their non-immigrant visas indefinitely.

Schumer’s bill would introduce the same House bill that passed two weeks ago in the senate with the E3 visas added.

In the senate Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has stated that he will oppose the original bill and not allow it expedited passage but there is mounting pressure on the Iowa Republican to let it pass.

Schumer stated that if the bill did not pass he would work on a different bill for next years’ legislative session that would help the Irish.

Bart Murphy, head of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform who flew from San Francisco to be part of the meeting stated afterwards he was very satisfied with the hour-long session.

“We know we have a great friend in Senator Schumer,” he said “and we look forward to the introduction of the new bill. We will work with Irish organizations across the US too bring pressure to bear on legislators to pass it.”

Key Republican senators such as Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Marco Rubio in Florida will be especially targeted by Irish lobby members.


It is a sad testimonial to the so called friends of the Irish in Congress if this is the best that can be done to alleviate the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the United States. In actual fact, it would give precedence to prospective Irish immigrants with college degrees and the promise of a job here and does nothing for those that are already here in an undocumented status. The hue and cry since the ILIR was established in 2005 has been “Legalize the Irish”. For the uninitiated, that expression was in reference to those already living here out of status, not those who had yet to leave Ireland. The resulting groundswell of enthusiasm was in anticipation of a campaign to pass legislation that would once and for all resolve the plight of undocumented Irish nationals who had come here out of shear desperation because their own country could not support them. What has happened to that noble effort? Is it going to be abandoned for an E-3 non-immigrant (temporary) type visa program which does absolutely nothing to resolve the plight of our undocumented Irish and, once again, leave the intended recipients of our original goal on the outside looking in? If so, all of our efforts have been a failure and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Irish frozen out of a new green card bill in Congress

Will lose out to China, India, Philipines and Mexico

NIALL O'DOWD - December 7, 2011, 7:28 AM

A green card bill that will be a bonanza for Indian, Chinese, Latino and Filipino immigrants is making its way through Congress and has passed the House of Representatives.

It will have the impact of denying green cards to other countries, including Ireland,as a new quota will give more to the countries listed above.

This is from The New York Times last week: “The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that tweaks the visa system to allow more highly skilled immigrants from India and China to become legal permanent residents.

“The legislation also includes a measure that will more than double the green cards based on family ties available for Mexicans and Filipinos, the two national groups facing the longest backlogs on the family side of the system. It raises the country limit for 226,000 family green cards each year to 15 percent from the current seven percent.

“The bill seemed likely to pass easily in the Senate, said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, a leading Democrat on immigration.”

There you have it, for all those bleeding heart Irish individuals who have always said the Irish should never, ever seek to do a deal for their own immigrants.

Such people usually cite the Hispanics as the ones we must wait for in order to all win comprehensive immigration reform together.

One thing I’m certain of -- neither the Hispanics, the Filipinos or the Indians or Chinese were worried about Irish concerns when they went ahead and bent Congress to their will on this issue last week.

Funny, isn’t it, that many Irish adopt this respectful strategy of waiting for comprehensive while other countries know full well it is an utter pipe dream.

They get on with it and are proving successful as the above story makes abundantly clear.

Indeed, they will hit the number of Irish green cards available because Mexico and the Philippines have just carved up more visas for themselves, which will leave countries like Ireland with less.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not blaming the various governments or lobbyists or politicians who put this together. More power to them, I say, if they can help their own people.

But I am criticizing those in the Irish American sphere who have long claimed that we, meaning the Irish, could never move on our own in case we offended some people.

Well, guess what? We Irish, with our own undocumented problem and thousands fleeing Ireland every month, just got “offended” by this – and it doesn’t matter a whit.

This is a done deal and the Irish are no part of it mainly because of a reluctance to even express our wishes.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois signed onto this bill after years of saying comprehensive only.

Gutierrez said, “We need bigger fixes to our legal immigration system so that employers and families use official channels, not black-market ones. We want people to go through the system, not around it.”

Yes indeed, we agree with the congressman on that score.

Schumer also thinks the aforementioned House bill is a good thing and I firmly believe it is as well -- if you are from one of those countries.

It is high time we woke up again to this reality, that without concerted pressure we will never get action on immigration.

It ultimately involves the Irish government and the Irish American community standing and working together.

So what are we waiting for?


They say that “politics make strange bedfellows”. For the past 30 years, Niall O’Dowd and I have labored in the vineyards on the issue of Irish immigration and in all that time we have usually had opposing points of view regarding how to resolve the issue. However, I would not only be remiss but also less than honest if I did not say that I am, for the most part, in agreement with his views expressed in the article above. The Irish immigration issue can and must be resolved if our cherished heritage is to survive in the chosen homeland of countless thousands of the Irish diaspora. It must begin with a permanent resolution to the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals from all 32 counties of Ireland. The next step would be to work on the passage of legislation that would guarantee an annual quota of legal Irish immigrants thus insuring the survival of our treasured Irish heritage in the greatest country on earth.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elected: Michael D Higgins - Ireland's most anti-American President

Today Ireland elected Michael D Higgins as president. Higgins, who lived and worked in America 40 years ago, is the most anti-American president Ireland has ever had.

As an American living in Ireland it has been clear to me that since the early 1980s Higgins has been among the most outspoken opponents of American policy in Ireland. He's been at the forefront of organized protests and rallies directed at America for 30 years.

In the 1980s it was President Reagan that riled Higgins. During Reagan's short visit in June 1984 Higgins was a keen participant in the protests against Reagan at
Shannon Airport, in Galway and then outside the Dáil (parliament) in Dublin when Reagan was speaking there.

During the 90s Higgins was opposed to the
Gulf War and opposed various aspects of America's defense policies during the Clinton years.

Flash-forward to the Bush years. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Higgins was with the majority of Irish people in opposing the war, but he went further than most here when he declared that the American military was going to "wage war on a civilian population." Visions of American war crimes came easily to him. When the fighting started he
denounced the Irish government's policy on allowing American troop planes to land and refuel at Shannon.

While he hasn't been a fan of a number of America's presidents, he has allied himself with some of America's enemies. He has been an admirer of Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, cited Castro favorably in the Dáil and simultaneously demanded that America lift its embargo on trade with Cuba.

He also courted Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. Higgins was also a supporter of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and in 1989 he hosted Nicaragua's Sandinista President Daniel Ortega in his own home. In early 2003 he visited Iraq in order to get the Baathist perspective before the war had begun. In 2004 he took part in a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Yasser Arafat.

Before you worry that Ireland has gone off the deep end with Higgins, there are a few caveats: (1) a majority of people were totally dissatisfied with options on offer during the election and Higgins' win was more a rejection of the others than an embrace of him and his views; (2) Higgins only polled around a third of the electorate, but gained a majority on
transfers from the other candidates; and (3) the position he's won is mostly ceremonial with no influence on policy.

The last factor should mean that if Higgins does his job properly we'll hardly notice that he's in office during the next seven years. Higgins' is entitled to his views, which are to the left of the Irish population, but as President he's not in a position to make or even influence policy so his views shouldn't matter.

Yet, over the past 20 years Presidents Robinson and McAleese have managed to expand the role of the office beyond what was ever imagined when the constitution was first passed in 1937. One of the new roles of the President is leading trade and cultural delegations on trips abroad. Mary McAleese has made many such visits to different parts of America, where she never put a foot wrong.

Will Higgins be able to follow suit? I'm doubtful.

If Higgins were to go on a visit to America he would have to temper his reactions to those who hold opposing views to his. I'm not sure he can do this.

Last year Higgins turned the air blue during what had been a robust, but good-natured
live radio debate between himself and Boston talk show host Michael Graham. The discussion ranged over a number of topics and Higgins got more and more wound up. Eventually he went off on Graham, urging him to support a national health care initiative for America and to "be proud to be a decent American rather than just a w****r". Whatever you may think of Graham's views they are not outside the American mainstream and Higgins couldn't cope with them.

The government would do well to take heed of Higgins' contempt for some aspects of the American people. An explosion like the one at Graham during a trade mission might cause the kind of upset that would drive potential jobs away from Ireland. In addition, his views on Israel might cause consternation in other quarters.

Overall, it would probably be a good thing if the next seven years did not include any Irish presidential visit to America.


Perhaps Mr. Higgins should be reminded, as he assumes the office of Uachtaran na hEireann, that a diplomat’s greatest asset is the practice of diplomacy. If these are truly “wee Michael D’s” views on America and Americans, they certainly fly in the face of anything that even vaguely resembles diplomacy. Such views could, very well, prove to be detrimental to the special relationship that has always been shared by these two nations.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Loose Lips - Sink Ships!

Undocumented Irish
have no trouble
finding work in
New York City

Irish tradition of immigration allows undocumented workforce to thrive

INES NOVACIC - Contributor - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ten years ago, Paddy, a 32-year-old Irishman, arrived in the US on a 90-day tourist visa. He still hasn’t left.

The undocumented construction worker said he’s had no trouble finding work in New York – and he’s not alone.

“The tradition is there,” said Paddy, who declined to give his last name. “All my friends work off the books.”

Irish immigrants have been streaming into New York City for decades through legal and illegal channels. But with immigration vaulting into the spotlight as one of the most contentious issues of the 2012 presidential race, there is renewed focus on groups like the city’s undocumented laborers. In a series of interviews, several said it’s far easier for them to work illegally in New York City than other nationalities.

“Irish guys tend to do better,” said Paddy, who recently became project manager for an electrical contractor.

Another undocumented worker from Ireland said he has landed a job without having to prove he has a visa.

“You can earn a nice little wage and live here no bother,” said Sean, 25, another undocumented construction worker who asked to be identified by first name only. “In a place like New York, if you tried to get all the illegals out, the city would hit a standstill. It’s not like we’re unusual or the only undocumented group.”

James O’Malley, an immigration lawyer from Ireland and the head of the Manhattan-based O’Malley and Associates firm, said that Irish workers had grown accustomed to coming to the U.S. since the launch of the Donnelly-Morrison Green Card Lottery program in the late 1980s. This piece of legislation enabled more Irish to obtain U.S. visas, and it adhered to U.S. immigration principles of the 1960s, which focused on family-ties rather than country-based quotas.

“Immigration quotas were fixed politically between 1989 and 1996,” said O’Malley. “But even now with relative immigration decline, the IRS, Department of Labor, and Immigrations Services lack the interest, time or politics to enforce rigorous measures against illegals.”

According to O’Malley, fewer Irish laborers have come to the U.S. since the demise of the country’s “Celtic Tiger” boom. Nonetheless, overall emigration from Ireland in the first half of 2011 was up 12 percent compared to the previous year. Figures published in early September by the Central Statistics Office, Ireland’s census bureau, revealed an increase of 11,1000 Irish nationals leaving the country. So far, that’s 110 Irish nationals a day.

George, 26, an Irish musician living in Queens, said that most of the Irish he knew worked in construction, with 80 percent of them “off the books.”

In Queens, a key Irish community stronghold, Irish laborers accounted for almost 65,000 of the one-million-member workforce, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In other words, legal Irish immigrants comprise 15 percent of the labor force.

In 2006, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) estimated that there were 50,000 illegal Irish workers in the U.S. ILIR testified that Ireland received 160 Diversity Visas out of a global total of 50,000 and approximately 2,000 Green Cards from a global total of 1 million.

Sean dismissed the notion that the history of Irish-American labor and emigration Relations account for the unique standing of Irish workers.

“It boils down to skin color. Only Irish workers get the same as Americans,” said Sean. “You’ll never see a Mexican being drunk and disorderly in public. They’re careful because they know they can be deported anytime. An Irishman walking into a construction job, even now with the recession, will get a higher hourly wage higher than other non-white employees who’ve been there for a while.”

Sean acknowledged that the recession impacted upon the illegal as well as the legal workforce, especially during the slow season of winter, when contractors give preference to legal or unionized laborers.

“It’s not the same since 2008, but there’s plenty of construction work out there for us,” Sean added.“There’s hundreds of Irish-owned construction companies.”

Sean recounted a saying from one of his former roommates: “You could just go on the piss Sunday, and get a new job Monday, no bother.”

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens provides a similar list to the Starting Gate, of Irish businesses in New York. A spokesperson for the organization equally refused to disclose it without first securing approval from the company listed. Emerald Isle doesn’t typically process work-related requests, but the center’s lawyer, John Stahl, 39, pointed out that undocumented workers have equal employment rights.

“If you do a day’s work in this country, you’re entitled to get paid. It’s not an immigration issue, it’s a work issue,” Stahl said. "I don’t think this adds much."

Under the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and Department of Labor (DOL), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) must refrain from engaging in enforcement activities at a worksite subject to a DOL investigation. Moreover, the report specifies that ICE can only intervene in cases concerning “a federal crime other than a violation relating to unauthorized employment.”

“The city would come to a standstill if government enforced deportations or ICE investigations rigorously,” said O’Malley. “A person can also claim sanction under the 1996 Cancellation of Deportation law, if they’ve been in the U.S. for 10 years and have at least one immediate family member who’s American”.

Paul, 32, who lives with Sean, also came to New York a decade ago on a holiday visa. Paul said that he originally started working for an Irishman who owned his own construction business, which he later merged with a big Manhattan-based contractor.

“I’ve been here for almost 11 years,” said Paul, “and no-one in my situation that’s in my circle, or my friend’s circle, has been targeted.”

Paul, who works as a carpenter, estimated that he gets paid $25-30 an hour. Large construction companies, which generate approximately $150 million a year, negotiate wages with relevant unions.

The General Contractors Association of New York oversees 13 different trade-specific construction unions, and fixes hourly wages between $30-60, dependent on the worker’s skill level. Unionized carpenters typically make $40-45 an hour without benefits. With union membership fees taken into account, Paul earns slightly less in real terms than his documented counterparts.

On a recent day, several Irishmen watching a Gaelic football match in the Cuckoos Nest pub in Queens openly admitted to being undocumented.

“It’s the kind of thing you leave people alone with,” said George, Sean’s 26-year-old friend from Dublin

“They like us, so they tolerate us. And we try to avoid rocking the boat. It has a lot to do with people in the right places turning a blind eye.”

Despite the seemingly easy task of getting work, and the insular, protective nature of the Irish community, Sean predicted that he wouldn’t stay in New York for long.

“I don’t think making more money than other undocumented groups makes us successful,” said Sean.

“We’ve no representation and I’ve yet to meet an Irishman who’s not in construction or bar work. And it’s unfortunate how a lot of Irish in these communities like Queens still only eat Kerrygold butter.”


Very honestly, it is difficult to determine who is more stupid in this article, Ms. Novacic for writing it, her publisher for not putting it immediately in the shredder, or the people who responded to her questioning regarding their immigration status. There is nothing like cutting off one’s nose to spite his face. How can anybody possibly find fault with this great nation when somebody who does not even have authorization to work here can brag about working steadily in some of the highest paid jobs in New York City. If this is not the height of stupidity, perhaps somebody could tell me what is. I have no doubt that ICE will find this article very interesting and, unfortunately, the most likely result will be that somebody else will feel the wrath of the authorities and be the recipient of a one way ticket to Ireland and a ten year bar from re-entry to the U.S. All the clowns mentioned here should hang their heads in shame. They are a disgrace to their heritage and especially to their fellow Irish immigrants.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Monday, September 26, 2011

Presidential pay cut: salary falls €75,000

MARTIN WALL -Mon, Sep 26, 2011 – Irish Times

THE GOVERNMENT is to reduce the official salary for the president by more than €75,000 per year.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin told the Dáil in answer to a parliamentary question that new legislation will set the pay rate for the next president at €249,014.

The current official salary is €325,507 although President Mary McAleese voluntarily surrendered €65,102 (20 per cent) of her salary for 2010.

Mr Howlin said the Government had no plans to alter the additional allowance of €317,434 provided for entertainment and other expenses related to the office.

Under legislation going back to 1973, the personal salary of the president is set at the rate paid to the chief justice plus 10 per cent.

Mr Howlin said that, under the Constitution, the remuneration and allowances of a serving president are protected against cuts as Article 12.11.3 provides that the emoluments and allowances of the president shall not be reduced while in office.

In line with my stated intention to provide for reduced salary rates applicable to new appointees to the judiciary, I am also making provision for a reduced salary payable to the new president of Ireland following the forthcoming election.

“The new salary will be €249,014 and the necessary legislative amendment will be provided for in the forthcoming single pension Bill.


This job carries a pretty nice salary with it not to mention all of the other perks that go along with it. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why there is so much interest in it. But, it is just another glaring example of the extravagances that Irish politicians shower upon themselves while the country’s economy goes to wrack and ruin and the ordinary Irish taxpayer is expected to pay, pay, and pay some more. How these parasites can sleep at night must be beyond the Irish taxpayer’s power to comprehend.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

€713,000 retirement package for top civil servant

HARRY McGEE, Political Correspondent - Tue, Sep 06, 2011 - The Irish Times

THE COUNTRY’S former top civil servant Dermot McCarthy received a combined retirement and pension package worth over €700,000 after stepping down this summer.

Mr McCarthy, secretary general to the Government, retired in July after 11 years in the position. He was also secretary general to the Department of An Taoiseach. As the taoiseach’s chief adviser, he was entitled to attend all Cabinet meetings.

During his tenure of more than a decade, Mr McCarthy was most associated with the social partnership process. He was secretary general to three taoisigh: Bertie Ahern; Brian Cowen and, in recent months, Enda Kenny. He was the taoiseach’s main adviser during the Northern peace process. He was also in position when the banking sector collapsed; when the economy was thrown into recession and when the previous government was forced to rely on intervention from the EU and IMF.

In addition to his annual pension of €142,670, Mr McCarthy was also paid a once-off lump sum of €428,011. He was also entitled to another special severance payment of €142,670. The overall package was worth €713,000. Details of Mr McCarthy’s package were released to RTÉ under the Freedom of Information Act.

On retirement, all public servants are entitled to a lump sum, worth 1.5 times the final salary. The sum is untaxed for all but the highest earners and has become increasingly contentious in recent years. While Mr McCarthy’s annual salary had fallen from €285,000 to €208,000 as a result of a series of pay cuts affecting high-earning public servants and ministers, his final salary for pension purposes remained the original figure of €285,000, leaving him with the lump sum of €428,000.

He will pay no tax on the first €200,000 of the €428,000 but following changes in this year’s Finance Act will pay tax of 20 per cent (or €45,600) on the remaining €228,000. The net worth of the lump sum is €382,400.

A Government spokeswoman said it was committed to ending the “exceptionally generous pension regime” for those at the top of the public and private sectors.


How can the average Irish taxpayer who is literally stretched beyond the breaking point with the savage cuts in very necessary social welfare payments coupled with unbearable increases in taxes possibly allow this ludicrous behavior to continue? Now, the Taniste has just come out in the last few days and stated that another 31/2 to 4 billion in cuts to services will be incorporated in the new budget to be announced for December 2011.The greatest tragedy is that I have seen nothing in the news to present a challenge to these exorbitant and criminal "golden handshakes" for those feeding at the public trough. Will we ever see an end to this gross injustice being perpetrated on the Irish taxpayer? It is absolutely true that there is more money stolen with a pencil than there ever was with a gun.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Friday, August 19, 2011

US will focus on deporting criminals

Obama move aims to free up courts; some immigrants may stay for review

By Maria SacchettiBoston Globe Staff Writer

The Obama administration declared yesterday that it would grant an indefinite reprieve to an estimated thousands of immigrants facing deportation, allowing them to stay and work legally so officials can more quickly deport convicted criminals and other serious cases.

Federal officials said they are launching a review of each of the roughly 300,000 cases in the nation’s immigration courts to ensure that new and existing ones reflect the administration’s priorities to detain and deport criminals and threats to public safety.

The move is likely to inflame political tensions with immigration looming as a campaign issue in 2012, and it has major implications for Massachusetts, which has the second-longest immigration court backlog in the United States. All manner of immigrants in the courts’ pipeline could stand to benefit, from factory workers detained in the 2007 New Bedford raid, to same-sex couples about to be separated, to youths facing deportation.

“The president has said on numerous occasions that it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases,’’ Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote yesterday to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, outlining the policy.

Doing otherwise, she added, “hinders our public safety mission - clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from individuals who pose a threat to public safety.’’

Administration officials said they do not know how many immigrants will receive a stay on their cases, though they estimated that thousands could be affected.

Susan Long, codirector of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which studied the issue in 2007, said most cases in immigration court appear to be people accused of violating immigration, not criminal, laws.

“It definitely could affect a large number of people,’’ Long said.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, who prosecute immigrants, and the Department of Justice, which oversees the immigration courts, will examine the cases in the coming months and send letters to immigrants who can stay.

Those immigrants would have the chance to apply for a work permit, though they could not obtain legal permanent residency and their cases could be reopened at any time, officials said.

Officials said the shift cements the message in a June memo from the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, urging agents to focus on detaining and deporting priority cases, such as convicted criminals, immigrants who sneak back across the border after having been deported, and recent border crossers.

Officials cautioned that they would continue enforcement efforts, which led to high deportation levels in recent years.

Yesterday, advocates for immigrants rejoiced in what many said was their first victory since President Obama took office promising - and failing - to tackle immigration policy overhaul in his first year.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, praised the move as a “humane and rational approach.’’

“This is a huge victory, not just for the immigrant and refugee community, but for all of us as American people, living up to our ideals,’’ Millona said. “It makes no sense to deport innocent children, to deport immigrant families. This is huge for the president. We commend him.’’

But others condemned the decision as a failure to enforce federal immigration laws.

“Everyone who’s here illegally should not be allowed to stay here,’’ said Joseph Ureneck, cochairman of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform, which favors tougher controls on immigration. “They should be returned to their home country.’’

The Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform called the Obama administration’s move a “huge breach of the public trust’’ and said it would essentially halt enforcement against many illegal immigrants.

The policy shift would affect less than 3 percent of most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, but even that number is clogging the federal immigration courts at record levels.

Nationwide, more than 275,000 cases were pending as of May, with the average case pending 482 days, according the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Boston, which serves all New England states except Connecticut, has more than 8,880 cases pending an average of 617 days, second only to California.

In Massachusetts, the largest groups facing deportation are from Guatemala and Brazil.

Yesterday, the Boston court was so crowded that a judge made immigrants wait in the hall while their lawyers handled the cases, said lawyer Matthew Maiona. He said most cases he sees are not criminals, but people who are accused of violating immigration law.

“I know they’ll be happy,’’ he said.

But he said the new policy would do little for the 11 million here illegally.

“Anything right now is welcome, but I really believe it’s a Band-Aid approach to a gaping wound problem,’’ Maiona said.

Harvey Kaplan, a Boston immigration lawyer, said the policy acknowledges that the federal government cannot deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.

“It just sort of says, ‘Let’s get real. We don’t have the resources. There are many good people out there [so] let’s get rid of the bad people,’ ’’ he said.

Immigrants facing deportation welcomed the news yesterday with a mix of hope and uncertainty, because they will not know if they can stay until the US government sends them a letter.

For Tania Nitch, a 37-year-old immigrant from Guatemala who has lived in New England since she was 14, the news came just in time for her deportation hearing next month. The mother of two said she has been fighting deportation for four years and does not have a criminal record.

“I’m just hoping. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,’’ said Nitch, who lives in Rhode Island.

She said waiting has been agony. “I’m going insane. I mean I don’t know if I’m going to stay or I’m going to leave,’’ she said.

Maria Caguana, a young mother of three in Milford, said she hoped it would help her husband, Manuel Simon Caguana, an immigrant from a rural village in Ecuador who is in a New Mexico detention center pending deportation.

She said he had been arrested in the past for minor offenses such as driving without a license, but was an otherwise hard-working laborer who had lived here for 10 years. A few months ago, he was picked up for a deportation order he did not know he had, and she has not seen him since.

“I hope it happens’’ for him, she said of the stay.


Is this a pardon or a parole for those who were being held strictly for immigration violations rather than participating in serious criminal activity? They will be given an opportunity to apply for a temporary work permit which will, most likely, have to be renewed periodically. This will allow the authorities to closely monitor their activities and their whereabouts. They will not be able to obtain permanent residency status and their work permits can be revoked at any time and their deportation cases reopened. The clear winners in this arrangement are the immigration courts who will now have the ability to schedule these cases at any time they see fit. The only positive aspect for those being “paroled” is that they will not be incarcerated but will certainly be very closely monitored in a “prison without bars”.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Illegal Irish forced out of jobs in US crackdown

Eoin Reynolds in California - Sunday August 14 2011

UNDOCUMENTED Irish in America are being forced out of their black market jobs by tough new measures to clamp down on illegal workers, according to the Immigration Rights Commission (IRC) in San Francisco.

IRC chairman Angus Mc-Carthy said new e-verification forms had forced thousands of illegals to quit their jobs.

He said: "The e-verification number has changed the game for workers here. Under this system you have to prove you are legal to keep your job so workers are being given the option of complying, or leaving their jobs."

E-verification requires a worker to provide documents to an employer that are then compared to Homeland Security files to assess if the person is legally entitled to work in the US. Anyone whose documents do not match up is likely to be arrested and deported.

At present it is only mandatory for employers working on federal contracts to e-verify their workers.

However, a number of industries have taken it upon themselves to implement the rules, fearing that they will be penalised in the future if they are found to be employing illegals.

The Latino community has been hardest hit as the fast-food and hotel industries have been the most rigorous in implementing the system.

But Irish workers who are "caught up in the crossfire" are also struggling and there is currently a bill before the house to make e-verification mandatory for all sectors.

Sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, Bill S1196 would force all employers to fully comply with e-verification within one year.

Felix Feuntes, of the Immigration Rights Commission in San Francisco, said the construction sector was also beginning to comply with the regulations.

Construction has long been one of the most important employers for illegal Irish in the US but it now faces a major overhaul.

Employers, fearing a backlash from future governments, are becoming increasingly likely to let go of any illegals on their books.


This legislation, if enacted, could have a devastating effect on the undocumented Irish communities in the U.S. The tragedy is that it would, most likely, make a very limited number of steady jobs available to persons with work authorization. The reason is that small independent contractors hire workers for short periods as the work load dictates. They may only need somebody for a few days and then let them go. This is a way of life that would not be either suitable or acceptable to authorized workers looking for steady employment. The small contractors would not have a source of temporary workers available when they are needed. The economy would lose the money that undocumented workers spend on goods and services and the necessities of life. The sum total would be a “lose, lose, situation for everybody involved” Senator Grassley’s time would be much better spent in trying to find a real solution to our broken U.S. immigration system.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The case of Brendan Lillis

“Brendan Lillis is a former republican political prisoner who served a life sentence as a result of his involvement in the North’s violent political conflict. He served around 16 years for possession of explosives and firearms. In 1992 he was released on license. In 2009 he appeared in court on a robbery related charge, a charge which is no longer to be proceeded with. Shortly after his arrest the British Secretary of State withdrew his licence which reactivated his life sentence….There have been concerns raised about the state of his health. It seems that he is being detained within a regime which can easily be described as one of medical neglect. It was reported that he is suffering ‘from the debilitating arthritic illness ankylosing spondylitis, which leads to a curvature in the spine and causes the body to produce excess bone mass.’” - Anthony McIntyre 13th March 2011

There are two immediate legal issues in this case. Firstly, the reactivation of Brendan Lillis’ licence engages a number of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights; Article 5 Right to Liberty and Security, specifically the duty the state owes to inform the detainee of the reason for their detention, and Artcle 6 the Right to a Fair Trial in that the detainee has the right to a fair and public hearing for the determination of the detainee’s civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him. The second legal issue surrounds the positive obligations that the state owes Brendan Lillis in regard to the Provision of Medicial Services that arise under Article 2 the Right to Life.

The most serious of these legal issues relate to the health issues that engage Brendan Lillis’ Right to life, and the authorities obligations owed to him uder this convention rights. The Right to Life retains it pre-eminent status in International law as the foremost of all human rights and from which all other rights sequentially follow. It is also the cornerstone of the European Convention as it is the foremost of all the provisions in the European Convention. The developing jurisprudence that the European Court on Human Rights considers obligatory on states, under the premise of Article 2, surrounds the provision of medical facilities and services. Such provisions were engaged in the unsuccessful case of LCB V UK, whereby the Court stated that the state had ‘to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within the jurisdiction.’ This is however, viewed on a case by case basis, in that the more verifiable the risk to the life of a specific individual, the more pressing the corresponding duty on the state to provide the appropriate provision for medical services. In a somewhat similar case to Brendan Lillis, the ECtHR ruled unanimously found that there is an obligation on the state to provide medical treatment to a detainee, in Velikova v Bulgaria. States therefore ought to be under a clear obligation under Article 2, to provide medical provision for those vulnerable persons detained under their supervision and custody. Similarily in Anguelova v Bulgaria the Court found a breach of Article 2, again a seriously ill detainee was denied timely medical assistance in this instance.

The state clearly owes Brendan Lillis an obligation under this right, which would then trigger further analysis into the reasoning and legality of his detention under the obligations owed in regard to Article 5 the Right to Liberty and Security, specifically the duty the state owes to inform the detainee of the reason for his detention, and Artcle 6 the Right to a Fair Trial in that Brendan Lillis has the right to a fair and public hearing for the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him.

Serious legal questions have arisen and need to be answered in relation to the provision of medical services for Brendan Lillis and his continued detention.


I have read with great interest many of the pleas from a wide range of persons asking for the release of Brendan Lillis on humanitarian grounds. I must say that I am in absolute agreement that this man is in grave physical condition, poses no threat to anyone, and certainly should be released “on humanitarian grounds”. However, it has also become abundantly clear that the pleas for his release on “humanitarian grounds” from dozens, if not hundreds, of sympathetic, well meaning petitioners, have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps it is time to abandon that approach and consider a more pragmatic one such as that which is outlined in the article above. This article appeared in a blog a couple of months ago and it very clearly outlines the rights to which Brendan Lillis is entitled. It is time to assert his rights as outlined in this article instead of moving on with a continuous stream of ineffective pleas to an obviously uncaring British government official.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America