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  • NY to get Irish Arts Center with €2.3 million grant

    Monday, December 7th, 2009

    New York will get a major new Irish landmark, with the announcement today that Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has granted€2.3 million for the construction of an Irish Arts Centre in Manhattan.

    The press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs said:

    The Minister said one of the main themes to emerge from the attendees at the Global Irish Economic Forum was the importance of Irish Culture to the image of this country abroad and in particular in the USA. He noted that this was also an important conclusion of the Strategic Review of Ireland US Relations, published by the Taoiseach last March. Minister Martin said he was extremely impressed by the arguments made at Farmleigh by members of the business and cultural sectors alike.

    Announcing the grant from the Emigrant Support Programme managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Minister said:

    “The allocation of such significant funding is a clear demonstration of the Government’s strong commitment to the building of the new Irish Arts Centre in New York. This funding is a response to the extraordinary gesture of the City of New York in making a site, valued at $12 million available for the project, along with a further $8 million in capital funding.

    The construction of the New York Irish Arts Centre is identified as a priority in the revised Programme for Government and I would like to pay tribute to Minister Martin Cullen for his longstanding support and commitment to the project.

    The new Centre will project a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America across the US; it will facilitate extensive Irish-related cultural, business and community programmes; will showcase quality contemporary Irish theatre and art; and will also provide an invaluable resource for the Irish emigrant community in the US?.

    The Minister paid warm tribute to New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn for their exceptional support for the initiative. He also thanked Gabriel Byrne for his support for the Arts Centre and for his longstanding work in promoting Irish culture throughout the US.

    Minister Martin said that this major initiative demonstrates how seriously the Government views the outcome of the Farmleigh Forum:

    “Everybody at Farmleigh said that the success of the Conference could only be judged by the quality of the follow up. Today I have begun to demonstrate that despite the difficult budgetary situation, we are determined to continue investing in our unique resource- the Irish Diaspora and its cultural heritage.

    This is just the beginning and I will be making further announcements in the New Year.

    Other ideas which are being actively progressed include: a new Global Irish Network; the establishment of an Irish innovation centre in Silicon Valley; the Gateway Ireland portal, which would serve as a key online focus for promoting Ireland abroad and engaging with our global community; expanded educational exchange and scholarship programmes to increase engagement with younger generations; and a new Farmleigh Overseas Graduate Programme. I am aware that a number of other Departments are also taking forward initiatives suggested at Farmleigh. I am similarly encouraged by the fact that significant work has already been undertaken by participants themselves on a number of projects that are more suitably advanced by the private sector. These will have the support of the Government.?

    He pointed out that at its meeting on 13 October, the Government considered a comprehensive report prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Management Institute. The full report contains a detailed list of the main themes and specific proposals to emerge and is available on ( and

    The Government has also established a new inter-Departmental Committee, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach, to consider the proposals and monitor progress across Departments. The Committee has already begun its work and will report to Government in the New Year.

    The Minister emphasised that the Government is absolutely committed to engagement with the Irish Diaspora across all regions and all sectors:

    “Through the Emigrant Support Programme, we will continue to offer support to all sections of our Diaspora. In addition to the increased economic element to our work arising from the recent Forum, I am determined to ensure that we continue to attach a high priority to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable members of the Irish abroad.?

    NY GAA not benefitting from Ireland’s downturn

    Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

    The Irish Times takes a look at the New York GAA scene in the context of Ireland’s falling economy, as Mayo prepares to make the trip to play New York in the opening round of the Connacht championship.

    The article notes:

    It used to be an economic downturn in Ireland was at least good for something; the GAA in New York. When players here were laid-off or couldn’t find work they typically looked to America, and particularly New York, where the promise of employment and a vibrant GAA scene – along with several other perks – was more than enough to entice them across the Atlantic.

    These days things are a little different

    The article notes that stricter immigration laws have kept New York’s GAA scene from booming as it might have in tough economic times of the past. There has been talk of an increased numbers of players coming, but “it’s really only dribs and drabs”, according to NY GAA chair Larry McCarthy.

    They key to the NY GAA’s future growth? The twelve underage clubs in the New York area, according to McCarthy, which bring players up from under-10s to minor grade.  But McCarthy notes that that the dominance of American sport is a challenge in attracting young people, and many young people lose their connection to their GAA clubs when they go away to college.

    Related web page:

    Irish Times: New York build on underage structures

    Calls for greater care of elderly follows death of man in NY

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    The death of a 72-year-old Irish man in New York has resulted in a new focus on the needs of elderly Irish emigrants in the US.

    Tony Gallagher, originally from Ballycorrick, Co Mayo had died perhaps as long as a week before his body was found in his Queens apartment. Though some press reports have depicted Mr Gallagher as being socially isolated, other reports have noted he was an active member of his local community and, though he lived alone, had close contacts with family members. Mr Gallagher’s Leitrim-born wife, Josephine, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. His brother lives in Massachusetts, where Mr Gallagher had visited him to celebrate Thanksgiving weeks before he died. In mid-December he apparently suffered a heart attack and died; his body was not discovered until firemen broke into his apartment as much as a week later, after a caretaker noted Mr Gallagher’s absence.

    Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in New York has described the need for a census of the Irish community there. Calling Mr Gallagher’s death as a wake-up call, he said, “No one knew he existed. That’s the problem. That’s what we intend to change.? Work on the census has already begun, with volunteers knocking on doors and community leaders registering the elderly.

    Mr Staunton also called for the opening of drop-in centres in the Queens area to discourage isolation and build a sense of camaraderie. He said that the community would be looking to successful models in England as examples for work in Queens, naming the Leeds community as one such example.  The Aisling Irish Centre in Yonkers also has a well-established programme for the elderly, and there are other programmes throughout the New York area.

    Mr Staunton is asking both the Irish and the Northern Irish governments for support in funding the programme. Mr Staunton praised the work of the Irish government, telling the Irish Times,

    “Not too often does a Taoiseach get praised, but when Brian Cowen was minister for foreign affairs he was instrumental in funding services here. Now that Micheál Martin has stepped into Mr Cowen’s shoes we have been met with nothing but a positive response.”

    The Evening Herald reported that Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin would look at funding an outreach worker to visit emigrants in their own homes.

    See related articles:

    NY Times speculates on Irish return to city

    Monday, February 11th, 2008

    The Irish may be coming back to the New York neighborhood of Woodlawn, suggests an article in the New York Times. In an article entitled, rather tweely, “Return Trip on the Shamrock Express”, journalist James Angelos suggests that the trend of return migration back to Ireland, driven by the Irish boom and the post-9/11 crackdown on the undocumented, may be reversing. The article cites the recent Irish Voice article that suggested agencies working with Irish immigrants are busier with new arrivals in recent weeks.

    The journalist quotes Siobhán Dennehy, executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center of New York, who says she has noticed more new immigrants coming in making inquiries about housing and jobs. She says that many of them would be former New York residents who have returned to the city after a stay back home, finding Ireland’s housing expensive and the job scene slowing.

    Not everyone agrees with the notion that the Irish are returning, however: One waitress says that if more Irish are arriving, she hasn’t seen them.

    The article concludes with a quote from one new arrival, a visa holder from Northern Ireland who arrived in September. He says he came over when the slowdown in the construction industry hit him. He claimed more emigrants would be coming back to New York “because there is no work left in Ireland?.

    That sentiment, of course, seems to be overstating the case. The current unemployment rate in Ireland, while higher than in recent years, still stands at a very low 4.8%. Recent census figures, however, do point to a rise in emigration last year, probably fuelled at least in part by an increase in return migration among Eastern Europeans. In addition, male migration to Ireland has slowed, possibly due to a decrease in the number of jobs available in construction.

    Read the whole article on the New York Times site.

    Irish immigrant in NY fights extradition

    Monday, January 28th, 2008

    A County Louth native is fighting extradition from the US. Joe Byrne, a resident of Pearl River, New York, is facing an extradition warrant filed by the Director of Public Prosecution in Ireland. Authorities there allege he was involved in two robberies over ten years ago. Mr Byrne was questioned by gardai in 1997 over the case, in which £8,200 was stolen from a pub; at that time, he was released without charge. Shortly after, he moved to the US, met his wife, Eileen, and received a green card; on the application, he admitted that he had been questioned in the case and provided a reference from the gardai in Dundalk.

    In July 2006, however, he was arrested by FBI agents on the warrant from the Irish authorities. Last fall, a court in New York decided against him.

    His extradition was originally scheduled to take place before 29th of January, but the Department of State has agreed to put off the extradition until at least next month.

    Mr Byrne’s wife, Eileen, told the Irish Emigrant that she fears for his life were he to be extradited, saying the main person involved in the robbery was a known member of the INLA.

    The Ancient Order of Hibernians is supporting a petition campaign to stop the extradition.

    Read the full story in the Irish Emigrant.

    View the petition to stop the extradition.