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    Irish activist challenges Republican candidate

    By Noreen Bowden | January 11, 2008

    A New-York based, Mayo-born bar owner and immigration activist has made national headlines in US newspapers for his questioning of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

    Ciaran Staunton, of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, poised the opening question at the “Ask Mitt Anything” event, held in New Hampshire shortly before the primaries were held this past Tuesday.

    Mr Staunton noted that Mr Romney had had a strong record on immigration as governor of Massachusetts, but then asked him why he had changed. He spoke of the estimated 50,000 Irish undocumented, noting that many are the parents of American-born children, adding, “When you sit down tonight, Gov. Romney, will you do me a favor, please remember that they are human”.

    Mr Staunton was jeered by Romney supporters. Mr Romney replied that he loved legal immigration but that he wants to end illegal immigration: “They should get in line if they want to become a citizen”.

    Mr Staunton told the New York Daily News that Mr Romney had been generous in funding immigration centres in Massachusetts in the past, but has now done an “about-face in his immigration policies”.

    The Irish Echo says the publican, who owns O’Neill’s Irish Bar in midtown Manhattan, denies his challenge was out of order. “Sure I’m a pillar of society”, the paper quotes him as saying.

    Meanwhile, the Irish-American Republicans group has endorsed Senator John McCain for president.

    Read the coverage of the event:
    Irish Echo
    New York Daily News
    USA Today

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