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    Irish-American identity over, says US columnist

    Friday, March 20th, 2009

    Irish-Americans will no longer have a powerful impact on American public life, says an opinion writer for U.S. News and World Report. John Aloysius Farrell makes this assertion in a tribute to New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd, saying she “might be the last Irish-American still shaping American public life”. While acknowledging the influence of writers like Alice McDermott and the great Irish-American politician Ted Kennedy, he says,

    But that long marvelous strain of Erin’s sons and daughters, running back two centuries, who once ruled the City Halls and statehouses, put out fires and caught crooks, fought wars, ruled the newsrooms and lit up the stages and silver screens, has come to its end. The melting pot did its work. Surely, there are some who will turn the Pogues up loud today (You’re the measure of my dreams…) wear green ties and lift a glass of Knappogue Castle. But the Irish Catholic identity of our younger days, as the children or grandchildren of immigrants, taught by the nuns, singing “Galway Bay,” cursing the Brits and revering Robert Emmet, is gone.

    He notes that the late Pat Moynihan had predicted this decline in influence:

    He noted back in 1963 how Irish identity was declining amid prosperity and respectability. (A warning to African-Americans there.) Even as the Irish took the top jobs, the base was eroding. On the day that JFK died, “the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Chairman of the National Committee were all Irish, all Catholic, all Democrats,” Moynihan noted. “It will not come again.”

    And it didn’t. There was a chance, I suppose, before Ireland joined Europe and became the (now clawless) Celtic Tiger, that continuing waves of immigration would refresh Irishness in America. It didn’t happen. The Australians, imagine, have a bigger profile in Hollywood today.

    It’s a perspective that highlights the importance of the strategic review of Irish-US relations that the Taoiseach launched in the US last week.

    See the report:

    The Irish American Reign Fades: Maureen Dowd is the Last of a Dying Breed

    Taoiseach launches strategic review of Irish-US relations

    Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

    Taoiseach Brian Cowan has launched a major review of Ireland-US relations entitled “Ireland and America: Challenges and Opportunities in a New Context”. The report was initiated following a visit by the Taoiseach to New York last year. It is the first significant review of diplomatic relations with the United States since the 1930s.

    The report is an ambitious one, setting out the following key objectives:

    • A revitalised relationship between Ireland and the United States, shaped to meet the challenges of a new era
    • A strong and mutually beneficial economic partnership
    • A deep and enduring engagement with the Irish diaspora in the US
    • A vibrant Irish community with new possibilities for young people to work, gain experience and live in the United States
    • A strong partnership with the Irish American community and with US authorities in caring for the ‘forgotten Irish’
    • Continued strong partnership with US Administration and Congress in support of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement

    The Taoiseach has outlined a number of key initiatives:

    • a new Ireland-US Strategic Policy Group, chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, which will oversee implementation and report directly to the Taoiseach
    • A new Irish American Leadership Council
    • Extended diplomatic representation in the US, with, in the first instance, a new Consulate in Atlanta, GA and later in Houston, TX
      Expansion of the Honorary Consul network
    • Development and expansion of business networks to support Irish jobs and take advantage of new economic opportunities
    • A reinforcement of the Embassy’s capacity to promote economic relations
    • Development of bilateral dialogue foreign policy dialogue with the US on issues ranging from development assistance, human rights, disarmament and non-proliferation to conflict resolution
    • Develop targeted engagement with individual US states
    • Development of Ireland-US bilateral visa arrangements with a new reciprocal and renewable 2-year working visa arrangement, a reenergised J1 visa programme and a long term solution for the undocumented
    • encouragement of new online links for Irish communities and the wider diaspora in the US
    • A new certificate of Irish ancestry for Americans seeking formal acknowledgement of their Irish roots
    • A fast-track naturalisation regime for those with Irish great-grandparents who have studied in Ireland
    • Improved on-line access to genealogical records
    • Annual arrangements to commemorate the Famine in the US
    • A new leadership development programme to connect emerging leaders in US with counterparts in Ireland
    • Improved coordination of activities by Irish universities and Higher Education institutes
    • Expanded internship programme for US students with reciprocal placements for Irish students
    • Enhanced secondary school linkages and the development of curriculum materials in both the US and Ireland
    • Support for growing Irish studies programmes and development of an annual Summer School focussing on aspects of the Irish story in America
    • Officer exchange programme between the US State Department and Department of Foreign Affairs
    • A dedicated education officer in the Embassy in Washington
    • A series of high-profile Irish cultural events in 2011
    • Investment in existing Irish-American cultural infrastructure, especially in New York.

    Download the review.

    Related websites:

    US-based tech leaders support Irish business

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

    The Irish Technology Leadership group, a San Francisco-based group of technology executives, are eager to lend their support to Ireland’s economy, according to an article in

    John Hartnett, the group’s chair, told the publication that the Irish abroad can play a key role in dealing with the current economic crisis:

    “It’s not just an Irish problem; it’s a  worldwide problem. Ireland needs to reach out to each part of the diaspora that can help it to be successful.”

    The ITLGis comprised of 500 members, all at executive and CEO level. The group is hosting an event in Silicon Valley this month that will bring six firms selected at its “Siclicon Valley comes to Ireland” event in November to meet with senior executives from US-based businesses.

    The ITLG is working with the IDA and Invest NI to better compete in Silicon Valley. The article says:

    Ireland is going to have to compete in a different way. The first thing is to get the brand right,” he argues, by positioning Ireland as a high-value country and an innovator on the leading edge of technology.”Inward investment is hugely imporant, but we must stand on two legs and make Irish companies multi-million firms. Israel ahs 66 companise listed on Nasdaq; Ireland has four. We have got to be able to compete up the food chain and up the value chain. “

    Hartnett also says that the group is encouraging Irish politicians to meet with industry leaders in the valley, and assisting government and educational institutions to understand how to innovate and win business more successfully.

    The ITLG is hosting its Silicon Valley Awards 2009 ceremony on 14 April at Stanford University in California, with Tanaiste Mary Coughlan as keynote speaker.

    Related links:

    Irish-born in US among oldest, least poor

    Monday, March 9th, 2009

    Irish-born residents of the US are among the oldest immigrant groups, and least likely to be poor, according to a survey released by the US Census Bureau. The study examined demographic profiles of the 38.1 million foreign-born population in the US. In 2000, 269,831 of those were Irish.

    The report found that the oldest foreign born populations tend to be from Europe, with those born in Hungary (64 years) and Italy (63.1 years) having the oldest median ages. Those from Greece, Germany and Ireland have median ages of about 60. The median age for the US population as a whole is 36.7, while the total foreign-born population has a median age of 40.2.

    Immigrants from Ireland have a poverty rate of only 5%; those from Ireland and the Netherlands were the least likely to be poor. In contrast, 51% of Somali residents live in poverty, along with about a quarter of those born in Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Jordan and Mexicio.

    In a separate study, the bureau has found that 12% of all Americans report Irish ancestry, or a total of 36 million in 2007.

    In researching this information, I was surprised to find that the Irish don’t even make it into a list of the top 25 countries of birth for immigrants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as evidenced by this graphic on the New York Times website.

    Related web pages:

    Irish government announces additional US funding

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has announced another round of funding for Irish community projects in the US, bringing the 2008 total for Emigrant Support funding to over $5 million.

    The $2 million in funding announced this week will cover several capital projects:

    • JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Boston ($1,000,000)
    • San Francisco GAA Facilities ($500,000)
    • Chicago Gaelic Park ($250,000)
    • Rockland County GAA ($200,000)
    • Irish Americans in Government, New York ($20,000)

    Several emigrant services project are also getting funding:

    • New York Irish Centre ($80,000)
    • Ancient Order of Hibernians ($20,000)
    • Aisling Irish Centre, New York ($20,000)
    • Senior Helpline Project, New York ($15,000)

    In announcing the funding, Minister Martin said,

    “I am announcing grants for three major Irish community development projects in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Earlier this year, I announced funding for another major Irish community development project in Boston. Each of these projects marks a new and exciting phase in the development of the large Irish communities in these cities. The involvement of the GAA in each of the projects is pivotal given that the organisation is a key focal point for our people in the US, and it is to be praised for its work within those communities.”

    “These investments are a strong indication of the enormous value the Government places on supporting our people in the United States and of our firm commitment to building even closer ties with the Irish American community. It is a community to which we in Ireland have on many occasions over the years turned to for advice and practical assistance. It is also a partnership which will secure the long term future of the Irish community in America”

    “I know from my own visits to the United States how committed our communities are to maintaining their own distinctive culture and tradition and their links with Ireland. I believe that there is an onus on us to assist them in their efforts. This investment represents a win- win for Ireland and our community in the US. “

    “I also know how it is so important that the Irish in America have a focal point where they can meet, particularly for our older people who can so easily become isolated as their social networks splinter and sometimes disappear altogether. These are the very people who over the years would have sent substantial amounts in financial remittances back to Ireland and it is important that their contribution not be forgotten.”

    See the full press release on the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

    Gov awards $1.5 million to US groups

    Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

    The Department of Foreign Affairs has announced its funding for sixteen emigrant service organisations in the US, totalling $1.5 million (1.03 million euro).

    Since the establishment of the Irish Abroad Unit in 2004, the Department of Foreign Affairs has allocated more than USD8 million to the Irish Community Centres and Organisations in the United States.

    The funding is as follows, divided by consular area.

    New York 771,000
    - Aisling Irish Centre 126,000
    - Emerald Isle Immigration Centre 196,000
    - New York Irish Centre 130,000
    - Project Irish Outreach 112,000
    - Irish Immigration and Pastoral Centre/Immigrant Support Services, Philadelphia 132,000
    - Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform 50,000
    - Commodore Barry 25,000

    Washington DC 166,000
    - Ocean City Irish Student Outreach 1,000
    - Irish Apostolate 22,000
    - Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers 68,000

    Boston 372,000
    - Irish Immigration Center, Boston 200,00
    - Irish Pastoral Centre, Boston 172,000

    San Francisco 159,500
    - Irish Immigration and Pastoral Centre (IIPC), San Francisco 130,000
    - Seattle Irish Immigration Support Group (SIISG) 2,500
    - Irish Outreach San Diego 27,000

    Chicago 125,000
    - Irish Immigrant Support, Chicago 110,00015,000

    Total 1,518,500

    Visit the Department of Foreign Affair’s Irish Abroad Unit.

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