Read about the nominations for ministerial positions in the Northern Irish Assmebly


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 4


      April 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor

In Ireland, North and South, We've Only Just Begun

(The campaign to win hearts and minds)

I was moved to anger and then sadness, like everyone else, over the horrific mass murders at Virginia Tech this week. The media accounts and the homemade video of the assailant portrayed a sick individual who seemed to have lost his mind. I believe he lost his heart as well.

We rely as much on our will, our hearts, as we do our minds to accomplish the difficult tasks of life. The mind analyzes data and offers suggestions and the heart takes ownership of the best one. And if both are working properly we get to live another day, to pursue our goals and to make the world a better place.

The same is true for regions and nations emerging from conflict and poverty, looking to move forward. The terrific news out of Belfast three weeks ago, that Northern Ireland politicians have agreed to enter a devolved government is another step toward a prosperous and civil society. Structures are in place to facilitate equality, civil liberties and the rule of law. Many schools are now enrolling children from both Protestant and Catholic traditions. The Police Service seeks recruitment levels representative of the population. And integrated neighborhoods are popping up across Northern Ireland. The big challenge now is to win the hearts and minds of the people of Northern Ireland from both the unionist and nationalist communities.

Meaningful reconciliation is finally taking root. Paramilitary organizations are beginning to understand that their war is over. Young people reared in segregated communities are more likely today than at any other time since the plantation of Ulster to have friends from the "other side." With each introduction, each mundane greeting, each heartfelt expression of peace, the people of Northern Ireland are finding their way, winning hearts and minds to the idea that there is no future in a divided society.

The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, continues its unprecedented economic growth, but also have their share of challenges. Inflation and congested roads are just a few of the trappings that come with modern prosperity. And the influx of foreign workers on the island of Ireland, North and South has caused some to bristle. A funny accent, a mysterious culture, a different religion. These are some of the markings of Ireland's new immigrants.

The people of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have important decisions to make. Should they withdraw to their safe corners with their own kind and speculate on the hateful, ungodly ways of "those others" from the wrong church? Will paranoia creep in to the collective consciousness of one group, rendering it mentally ill? Will unionists or nationalists or locals or immigrants lose their minds? And will their hearts be lost, too?

Or will they embrace the diversity that has proven to make societies stronger, winning hearts and minds to a better way forward and a shared future?

We have only just begun.

Jim Lamb


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


This month, we continue our series about Pittsburgh's Irish Organization with a look at Pittsburgh's Gaelic Football Clubs.

 In our Letter from the Editor section, Jim Lamb, offers his thoughts on today's societal challenges in Ireland, North & South

We also have a look at the end of an Irish sporting era



Pittsburgh's Gaelic Football Clubs 

Pittsburgh has had a long and proud tradition in the sports world with their football, hockey & baseball teams - but there's another sport that happens each summer that is keeping alive an aspect of Irish culture - Gaelic Football. 

Gaelic football, commonly referred to as "football", "Gaelic" or "GAA ('gah')", is a form of football played mainly in Ireland. It, along with Hurling, is the most popular spectator sport in Ireland. Gaelic football is played by teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end. The primary object is to score by putting the ball through the goalposts or goalmouth. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins. Players advance the ball up the field with a combination of carrying, soloing (dropping and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands), kicking, and hand-passing to their team-mates.

Gaelic football is one of four Gaelic Games run by the Gaelic Athletic Association, the largest and most popular organization in Ireland. It has strict rules on player amateurism and the pinnacle of the sport is the inter county All-Ireland Football Final. The game is believed to have descended from ancient Irish football which dates back to 1537, although the modern game took shape in 1887.


Pittsburgh's Gaelic Football teams are: the Pittsburgh Celtics (Men's), Pittsburgh Celtics (U12, U14, U16) and the Pittsburgh Banshees (Women's). They compete in the North American GAA's Midwest division and a typical season sees the teams play aganist other teams from Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Rochester, Baltimore & Washington.


Each September, in a different US city each year, the GAA holds the North American Championships. Winners and runner's up in their respective divisions compete for the national titles and this Labor Day weekend competition is the pinnacle of the season.


Training begins in April and games start in May. Home games are played at Founders Field in Indianola.


If you are interested in finding out more or know someone who might like to play contact the teams as follows:

Pittsburgh Celtics Club Secretary - Rob Tierney 412.478.2799

Pittsburgh Celtics Youth Chairman - John Connolly 412.606.8031

Pittsburgh Banshees Club Secretary - Marie Young 412.969.9992


Please submit your feedback to:  Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh * Regional Enterprise Tower

 * 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 300 * Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or

Call/fax our offices:  Telephone:  (412) 394-3900  * Fax:  (412) 394-0502

To subscribe/unsubscribe or comment on this newsletter please send an email to:











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Ian Paisley and Bertie Ahern publicly shook hands at the Taoiseach's first meeting with the DUP leader since the political talks at St Andrews in Scotland last year.  Mr. Paisley had previously said he would not publicly shake hands with the Taoiseach until a political settlement in Northern Ireland had been reached.


Mr. Ahern commented that the two countries were moving on in a new spirit of friendship.  After an hour and a half of talks, Mr. Paisley was positive, saying that there should be no “hedge” between the two neighbors.


The Taoiseach called Mr. Paisley to congratulate him after he announced the historic agreement to re-establish power-sharing in a joint news conference with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.


Both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Parties have confirmed their ministerial nominees who will join the new power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland on May 8.

Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew will be the new Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Catriona Ruane will be Minister for Education, and Conor Murphy will be Minister for Regional Development.

Gerry Kelly will become Junior Minister in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, and Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness will be the Deputy First Minister.

A former Ulster Unionist has been named by the Rev Ian Paisley as one of his party's ministers in the next Stormont government.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member Arlene Foster, who defected to the Democratic Unionists three years ago, will be the Minister of the Environment while DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson, Lagan Valley Assembly member Edwin Poots and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds will be the ministers of Finance, Enterprise and Culture respectively.

Mr Paisley's son, Ian Junior, was confirmed as the party's choice for the junior minister role in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister.

Mr Paisley was in optimistic mood as he announced his team.

"I think we should rejoice that great confidence is born in the hearts of the majority of people in Northern Ireland," the North Antrim MP said.

"I am amazed by the responses on the streets, on the phone and in every place I visit." 

The DUP leader said Sinn Fein was a different party from the one the DUP faced when it embarked on a process of trying to transform republicanism.


In a major effort of cross-border collaboration, the Co Antrim-based Wright group has won a €11.5m contract to supply 48 single-decker buses for Bus Éireann. The company will also supply Dublin Bus with a prototype for a hybrid electric double-decker bus.

The deal is an example of how a new relationship of respect and understanding could promote economic prosperity in Northern Ireland while benefiting the island as a whole, said Minister for Transport Martin Cullen.

Mick O'Reilly of the Transport and General Workers’ Union hailed the visit as tangible evidence that the Good Friday Agreement could have benefit employment on the island of Ireland.


Sinn Féin is holding its first formal meeting with the Policing Board this morning.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is meeting the chairman of the board in Belfast to discuss police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

A party delegation at Stormont will consider police accountability and increasing the number of republicans in the force.

It follows Sinn Féin's commitment to undertake police oversight duties once power is devolved.


In late March, it emerged that the city and county water supply in Galway has been contaminated by both human and animal waste. Tests carried out in laboratories in Wales established that the strain of cryptosporidium parasite which has been found in water reservoirs and treatment plants can be transmitted from human to human. 

The Health Service Executive says the situation remains a very serious one and it is of the utmost importance that all water is boiled before use. Experts believe it could be up to six months before tap water is safe to drink in parts of Galway affected by pollution. 

Up to 90,000 householders and businesses were affected, and today the number of cases of the cryptosporidium illness in the county rising to in excess of 175 people. Business leaders in Galway city have demanded that the Government act to deal with the water pollution. The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the problem was posing a threat to the tourist industry in the county.

The Galway county council say it is likely to be up to two months before the current directive on boiling boil water can be lifted.

Galway City Council is set to unveil a scheme to provide householders in the city with bottled water at reduced prices.

The scheme, to be announced tomorrow, will allow residents to purchase bottled water in some city shops at costs fixed below normal retail levels.

The city council has also requested the Department of Social and Family Affairs to initiate a voucher scheme to cater for the bottled water needs of social welfare recipients.

Investigators say the effluent leaked into Lough Corrib from a nearby treatment plant.










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The new Irish romantic comedy 'Speed Dating' has won an award at a US film festival.

The Tony Herbert-directed film was named Best Picture at the 8th Malibu International Film Festival in California.

The film, which stars Hugh O'Connor, Flora Montgomery, Don Wycherley, Emma Choy and David Hayman opens in Irish cinemas this week. there are no plans, as yet , to release the movie in the US.

It tells the story of a rich twentysomething (O'Connor) who finds himself going from one crisis to another after meeting a mysterious woman (Montgomery) at speed dating.

Watch this space!


A new law that prohibits smoking in all workplaces, most enclosed public spaces and public transport will be enacted April 30 in Northern Ireland. It is coming into force following a major public consultation exercise by the Department of Health between December 2004 and March 2005. Businesses will be required to remove ashtrays from all non-smoking areas and have a plan to deal with customers who disobey the ban.


Although some observers say the Republic's tigerish economy is still on an upswing, a consumer sentiment index, compiled by IIB Bank and the Economic and Research Social Institute, reports that job losses and higher interest rates have brought consumer confidence to its lowest level in three years.

Plant closures at companies such as Motorola and Procter & Gamble, as well as fears of rising interest rates and oil prices, have dispelled the confidence instilled by December’s Budget, said IIB economist Austin Hughes.

Irish national house prices showed no growth in February of this year while prices in a number of sub-sectors of the housing market declined slightly according to the latest edition of the Permanent TSB / ERSI House Price Index.

In each of the previous three months (November, December and January), national prices grew by just 0.1%. National prices have increased by just 1.6% in the six months up to and including February.

Measuring the rate of growth in the 12 months (year on year) to February, national prices rose by 9.5%. This was down from 10.6% recorded in the 12 months to January this year.

The average price paid for a house nationally in February 2007 was €311,078, compared with €310,632 in December 2006.


opportunities available to host a young person from Ireland or northern Ireland this summer!

This Summer & Fall, over forty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will arrive in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  Both groups from Monaghan & Armagh and Tyrone & Donegal will  receive on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  After their program the participants return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace. 

A key success in both these programs has been our Host Family program - the young people are placed with host families during their stay in Pittsburgh.  Those of you who have hosted participants in the past have our thanks for opening your hearts and homes.  No doubt you may be called upon again, but we also ask you to recruit any interested friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Host Family help is vital in providing a positive and rewarding experience for the participants.

Our first group arrives on May 4th - June 28th and the second group from July 2nd - August 30th. Call 412.394.3900 for more information.






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Although she enjoyed the atmosphere and support she received, Sonia O'Sullivan admitted she was disappointed by her finishing position in her last road race on Irish soil in Dublin last Sunday. The former Olympic 5000metres silver medalist has competed in every meeting since winning the inaugural competition four years ago.

O'Sullivan conceded before the event that age was now catching up and her body was straining to cope with the training required to remain an elite international athlete. But she was thrilled when this year's race saw almost 9,000 contestants take to the pathways of Phoenix Park - triple the number who appeared in the initial event.

O'Sullivan said: 'I thought I would have run a lot better, but on the day you only get the result that you deserve. It was still a great run for me, with a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of support from fans all around the course. Really, I couldn't have asked for more in a way of farewell.'

















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Our Mission:


AOH Division 32, Carnegie & The Ireland Institute of Pittsbugh  present "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" Irish Night at Regent Square Theaters, 1035 South Braddock Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. Tickets are discounted at $5 and the movie starts at 8:00PM. For more information, call Ed Blank from Division 32 at 412.854.5555 or the IIP at 412.394.3900                                                                       Monday April 23rd

AOH Division 1, Msgr. Charles Owen Rice, South Hills, will sponsor their Annual Night of Irish Music, 7:00 pm with Mike Gallagher, Step Dancers and Michael Murphy & The Shannon River Band at Castle Shannon Fire Hall. Information: Rich O'Malley 412.401.3945. Tickets $15.00                                                                                       Friday April 27th

Little Sisters of the Poor will sponsor a  Benefit with The Andy Cooney Band, direct from New York, at Central Catholic High School in Oakland; 7:30 pm.  Tickets: 412.307.1100 or Email:  Advance tickets must be purchased by April 14.  Proceeds benefit the elderly Residents at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home                                                                        Saturday April 28th


Poetry of Ireland Produced by Jack Webber, Co-Sponsored by the Gaelic Arts Society at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Southside Works, 27th & Carson Streets from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.  Free Admission.  Information, 412.758.5446              Saturday April 28th

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish will sponsor a Parish ‘Irish’ Dinner with Ham or Beef Stew, Colcannon & Irish Potato Soup, and Homemade Soda Bread from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  Entertainment with The Bell School of Irish Dance and a Special Appearance of St. Patrick!  Children’s activities & Raffles.  All items available for Takeout.                                                                                     Sunday April 29th

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh will sponsor a Night of Irish Races, 7:00 pm at The Centre.  Admission $10 per Adult; $15 per Couple, includes refreshments, door prizes; there will be an ‘Irish’ Auction, 50 / 50 Raffle.  Contact Lois Longo at 412.271.9229, Email:  Name a Horse ONLY $10.00! By April 28th Saturday May 5th

Pittsburgh Ceili Club is sponsoring ‘Cinco de Mayo Ceili’, at the Morningside VFW, 1820 Morningside Ave., Morningside from 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm.  Music by the Pittsburgh Seisiun Musicians.  Cash bar, coffee & tea provided.  Admission $10.  Information 412.363.8686.  Saturday May 5th


AOH PA State President’s Dinner in honor of Jim Green, Holiday Inn, Greentree.  Mass at 5:00 pm, Open Bar 6:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm.  Glenn Cannon, Master of Ceremonies.  Entertainment The Mansfield Five.  Information & Reservations: John McElvoy 412.431.7196, Email:                                                       Saturday May 19th


Carlow University Day School Benefit, entertainment with na Gaels and Irish Dancers, 6:30 pm.  Information Laurie Petty 412.578.8851.

Saturday May 19th


Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Irish Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh. Information: Regis O’Malley 412.884.2060.  See photo tour at Details TBA.

Saturday May 19th


The All Ireland Athletic Club’s Spring Dance with Matt Cunningham’s Irish Ceili Band, 8:00 pm, at the VFW, East Pittsburgh.  Tickets – Joan Connolly 412.373.7252 or Nellie Mannion 412.362.1963.                                                                         Saturday May 19th

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now in its 17th year, every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes has Irish music, news, and other great information


Paddy's Pour House located on Main Street in Carnegie, PA hosts live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night starting at 9:00 p.m.  Tuesday nights join Dennis Murphy with "Get Educated and Entertained as only 'Murph' can" from 8:00-12:00.  For more information, visit their website or call (412) 279-0770.


Catch the Thistle and Shamrock every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. on WYEP 91.3FM for Celtic music performances and discussions.


We're always looking for events to include: If you'd like to include your next event in this newsletter, please send event information including date, time, location, admission cost, and contact information to




The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will be hosting Irish Language Classes given by Irish native Marie Young on Thursdays for 8 weeks, starting on May 3rd.


Classes will cost $60 for the 8-weeks and will cover a basic introduction to the language. Watch out for more advanced classes coming soon.


For more information or to register, contact Marie at 412.969.9992 or the IIP at 412.394.3900. 

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh’s mission is to promote mutual understanding of the Catholic and Protestant traditions in Northern Ireland and economic development throughout all of Ireland. The Institute fulfills its mission by providing quality programs in job training, economic development, leadership development, educational alliances and reconciliation. The Institute is a change-oriented organization that collaborates with industry, educational and government institutions in the development of all programs.