Read about Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's ideas for a changing environment!


The Common Ground

Vol. VII, Issue 2


February 2009










Ireland Going Green?


Does the headline make any sense at all?  The emerald isle, known for it's green fields and meadows, can't possibly get any greener, can it?

Ireland's brightest minds are working on the challenges of climate change, alternative energy, sustainability, and related environmental concerns.  A few stories in this edition of Common Ground highlight some of that activity.  The green revolution, sweeping the developed world, is real.  It is the result of our collective moral obligation to care for this planet.  Of course, the cost savings related to green design have fortified the movement toward energy independence, reducing the carbon footprint, and other sustainability initiatives.

Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio readers are well aware of the many local and state government bodies, private companies and academic institutions in our region working on these problems.  Slippery Rock University hosts the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education and the McKeever Environmental Learning Center.  Case Western University has the Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation.  And communities across the rust "belt" are doing their part. Lake Erie and Pittsburgh's rivers are cleaner than they were thirty years ago.  Urban gardens are on the rise, and the air is cleaner.  But, there is still a lot of work to do in these areas.

Ireland is no different.  The heavy industry that drove Northern Ireland's economy through the 19th and 20th centuries left contaminated ground, polluted waterways, and dirty air.  Today Belfast is a relatively clean city, much like Pittsburgh.

As we look at ways to connect Ireland with Pittsburgh and the greater tri-state area, the important research and economic implications of green technology, sustainability, and alternative energy present a great opportunity.



Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



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Ireland is getting on track and cleaning up their towns.  A survey, by Irish Business Against Litter, has found that cleanliness in Dublin city has improved noticeably, and that almost 60% of Irish towns are deemed clean to European levels.  Dublin City is ranked 16 among 55 towns that have been surveyed, and Howth has been named Ireland's cleanest town in the latest annual survey.

A record number of Irish towns, approximately two-thirds, have been classified as “litter-free.”  When the Anti-Litter League was first drawn up by IBAL seven years ago, 60% of Irish towns were classified as “litter black spots.”  But now,  36 out of the 55 largest towns are considered clean to European "norms."

This is a big success for Ireland.  With the changing times and the improvements that have been made to Ireland as a whole, it only seemed right for them to continue their journey by changing their environment.  


Concerns continually grow over the potential environmental impact of a massive oil spill that threatens the beaches on Ireland's south-east coast.  The spill is believed to be 1000 tons, which is an increase from the original thought of 300 tons.  It could hit the Wexford coast in two weeks. 

This incident was discovered close to where a two Russian vessels, the Admiral Kuznetsov and the Admiral Chabanenko, were refueling in the Celtic Sea, however, it could not be said if the incident was from the refueling operation.  

The slick, which is breaking up and spreading over a larger area, is moving eastwards around 30-40 miles off the south coast towards the south-east corner of Ireland.  Some of the oil is expected to evaporate or dissolve into the water, while the majority of surface oil is expected to develop into “tar balls.” 

Declan Geoghegan, operations manager with the Irish Coast Guard, said it was not guaranteed that the oil would come ashore. 

"At this time we are saying there is a possibility it won't," he said. "It may travel a course in an easterly direction, but in cooperation with the UK we are keeping a very close eye on the oil slick, and we envisage that it won't come ashore on the Irish coast at this time." 

"At this point it is too early to accurately predict what volumes may come ashore and therefore what environmental, commercial and visual impact is involved," a spokeswoman from the Department of Transport said. 

Both the Irish Coast Guard and the UK Coastguard are carrying out aerial surveillance flights, using special sonar equipment, over the area while a boat is being launched from Cork to carry out tests to see if the oil is recoverable at sea.

Any oil which lands on the south-east coast will be recovered with machines by local authorities, with assistance from the Coast Guard.




A financial services company, in Northern Ireland,  announced it was to create nearly 150 jobs.   At the same time, United States sandwich chain, Subway, said it planned to generate up to 400 jobs, across the province, over the next two years.


The financial company, First Derivatives, is a leading provider of consultancy and software solutions to the capital markets industry throughout the world.  It focuses on financial institutions, and it develops, implements, and supports a broad range of trading and risk-management systems.


The creation of 132 new consultancy positions and 10 managerial posts will double the size of the company.


Northern Ireland Economy Minister Arlene Foster gave the announcement, and said, “since its establishment, in 1996, the company had grown into one of the region's most innovative and successful export companies.”


The company’s main focus is on the continuous development of its consultancy services and software/client portfolio, and that is one of the main reasons that First Derivatives have attracted many the world's largest financial institutions as clients," said the minister.


Company headquarters are located in the border city of Newry, Co Down, and the company has ongoing assignments in many leading financial centers such as London, New York, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philadelphia, Toronto, Stockholm, and Dublin.


Queen's University and a leading marine energy company, Aquamarine Power, announced a new five year research partnership which will seek to develop the next generation hydro-electric wave power converter —an off-shore power station. Their existing partnership has resulted in the development of a prototype hydro-electric device, which is to be tested for the first time this summer at the European marine Energy Center.

The Oyster wave power device is designed to capture the energy found in the surge forces of waves close to the shore.  A team, from the company, will model several devices in state-of-the-art wave tanks in the university's civil engineering department and at their marine biology center at Portaferry.

The team will monitor leading, survivability and how the devices interact with each other to guarantee continuous output in all sea states.

Professor Trevor Whittaker, head of the Wave Power Research Group and recognized as being among the best in the world, said he was very pleased to strengthen the links with Aquamarine.

Martin McAdam, chief executive of Aquamarine, said, “This agreement provides Aquamarine with access to Queen’s University Belfast’s world-class wave power test facilities, and that will enable Aquamarine to enhance the design of Oyster as a market leading technology, and gives us access to the brightest PhD students.”








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The Government has published a €4.5bn plan for sustainable transport by 2020.  This plan, called “Smarter Travel”, aims to move 500,000 people from cars to a different type of transportation.  This transportation is being called “more sustainable forms of transport.” 

Other points of interest, deemed as part of the “smarter travel,” include goals such as slashing CO2 emissions by at least 4 million tons, having a target of 150,000 people traveling to work by bicycle, and accounting all electric vehicles as 10 percent of all vehicles. 

An all island, car sharing website is also planned, with regional e-working centers, to help cut commuting times.  Also, more park and ride facilities, on the outskirts of major cities, are being planned.  


Bord Gáis, a famous gas company, has announced that the company will enter into the electricity market.  The company, which supplies gas to more than 630,000 homes, says it aims to become the second biggest energy player in Ireland. They also plan to be the first “dual fuel” supplier in the Republic by offering gas and electricity to homes. Bord Gáis said its prices could be up to 14 per cent cheaper than the ESB.  

John Mullins, chief executive of Bord Gáis, said that, “domestic gas prices could fall by up to one quarter over the course of the year, cutting over €200 off the average annual bill.”

 Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan said increased competition in the electricity market would help national competitiveness and the spending power of consumers.

Fine Gael welcomed the company's entry into the domestic electricity supply market but said the Government's decision to keep energy prices artificially high by not changing the regulatory model, meant that customers would still be paying over the odds.

This news was also welcomed by Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland (CAI).  The (CAI) said today's announcement would provide households with more choice at a critical time.




After months of being one of the most expensive places to buy petrol, the cost of unleaded fuel in Northern Ireland has finally fallen below the UK average. New figures from the AA show that local prices now sit around 86.4p per liter, compared to a UK mean of 86.65p.

The statistics also indicate that the cost of both petrol and diesel has dropped more in Ulster than in any other UK region, with reductions of 3.5p and 4p a liter at the pumps respectively. 

AA Public Affairs spokesman Luke Bosdet said, “supermarkets were partly responsible for the falling tariffs.”

“When you look at price reductions at supermarkets versus non-supermarkets, there is evidence to suggest that supermarkets are trying to get more people into their stores via lower fuel prices,” he said.  

“Regionally, concerted action by smaller fuel retailers taking on supermarkets has seen the average price of petrol there fall below the UK average for the first time in seven months. “But elsewhere, rural areas along the border continue to be the more expensive places for petrol.” 


Legislation, to give effect to the Government levy on public service pensions, was published today.  Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan is expected to bring the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009 before the Dáil.

Under the Bill, public servants earning over €20,000 will pay a 10 percent levy on their salaries, while those earning less will be liable to pay the levy at a reduced rate.  Anyone earning up to €15,000 will pay a rate of 3 percent, while those earning between €15,000 and €20,000 will pay 6 percent.  All earnings, including allowances and overtime, will be subject to the levy.

The Bill provides the Minister for Health the ability to make regulations to cut the rates of payments made by the State towards health professionals for public health services, for a reduction in the early childcare payment, and for deferral of certain payments to farmers. 

The Minister for Finance will carry out a review of the legislation before June 30th, 2010 and will consider whether any of its provisions continue to be necessary, in light of overall economic circumstances.






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England and Wales have delivered a multi-million euro offer to the Irish Rugby Football Union after declaring their intentions to launch a joint bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup – a competition which could have put around €500m into the Irish economy, if held here in conjunction with the other three home unions.

A report from auditors Deloitte & Touché last year estimated that a host nation could receive up to £2.1bn in economic benefits. If Ireland would have been one of four joint hosts, they would have hoped to share in that figure.

Welsh Rugby chief Roger Lewis had previously called for the “celebration of rugby” to be shared amongst the home unions, however, last weekend, he changed his mind. “My preferred option would be for us to be part of that England bid with us hosting pool stages and a quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium,” he said.

“England will bid for the World Cup,” said Thomas, England’s Rugby Football Union President. “We have certainly had very good discussions with the Welsh in terms of using the facilities they have, particularly the Millennium Stadium but also the Ospreys and maybe the new Cardiff stadium.”

Eight different countries have expressed an interest in hosting the 2015 event – Italy, South Africa, Australia, Japan and the four home nations.






WidER HORIZONS 2009 - Host FaMily Program

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for 2009, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:






Help the Institute:


Please visit or call 412-394-3353 for details.

Sunday, February 22


Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh will sponsor a program on the life and career of Bing Crosby, presented by Kenneth Gray.  The movie “The Top of the Morin’” will be shown.  412.761.1844.


February 24,2009


Pittsburgh Celtics, LAOH Division 11,Pittsburgh Banshees Present:

The Wolfe Tones- @ 7pm

Finnigan’s Wake 20 General Robinson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212



Saturday, February 28


Irish Fest 2009 at St. Teresa of Avila, Mass – 6:00PM, Irish Dinner – 7:15PM, Entertainment with Guaranteed Irish and Bell School of Irish Dance.  Raffles & Door Prizes, Tickets 412-367-9001 or Bud Burke (AOH Div. 4 412-366-6720).


Friday, March 6

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Button Party, 5:00pm at Mitchell’s Restaurant & Bar, 304 Ross Street, Downtown Pittsburgh.


Sunday, March 8

       ‘Irish Night – Row on for Brendan’ at Central Catholic High School, 4720 Fifth Ave., Oakland.  13th Annual Concert benefiting the Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic Rowing Teams.  Entertainment featuring Guaranteed Irish, Hooley, Michael Gallagher, Irish Step-Dancers, Bagpipers and the CCHS Chamber Choir.  Reception with Irish scones and tea following the show.  This event was the subject of WQED’s Emmy award-winning program “Row On For Brendan” and memorializes CCHS rower Brendan Foley.  Tickets  or 412-394-3353.  Information  Email:

Saturday, March 14

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, stepping off from Mellon Arena at 10:00 AM with celebrations to follow with the following groups at the following establishments: 

·    Smithfield Cafe/Guaranteed Irish

·        Knights of Equity Celebration at The Sports Rock Café, Smallman St. in The Strip from Noon

·        Pittsburgh Ceili Club Celebration from Noon at Epiphany Church Hall.

·        Paddy’s Pour House, Carnegie

·        Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle, in The Strip

·        The River City Inn at PPG Plaza with Mike Gallagher, from 11:30 / Noon till 6:00PM.

·        Jack Puskar, performing at Barley’s & Hops in Bethel Park / South Park.

·        The Claddagh Irish Pub & Restaurant, South Side Works

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill



Tuesday, March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – 


·        Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, 412-642-6622

·        Paddy’s Pour House, 215 East Main Street, Carnegie, 412-279-0770, featuring Jack Puskar from open till close.

·        The Claddagh Irish Pub & Restaurant, South Side Works, 412-381-4800.

·        The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill

All Ireland Social at the American Legion Hall, 5857 Forbes Ave. in Squirrel Hill, 8:00PM.   Music with CCE Musicians.  Information: Ray Connolly at 412-373-7252.




become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 21st year!  It airs every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes continues to provide Irish music, news, and other great information from the Emerald Isle.  Keep up the good work, Diane!


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, come for Irish Night: Guinness, Smithwick's, and Half and Half specials 8-12 p.m.  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

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2009 Schedule

For more information contact:




Check Performance Schedules, Etc.

Aran from Johnstown PA -    

George Balderose  -

Carnival of Souls -

Ceann  -

Cue Ball Music

Cahal Dunne  -

Tony Egan   -

Michael Gallagher  -

Terry Griffith 

Guaranteed Irish    -

Hiraeth  -

Hooley  -

John McCann  -

Corned Beef & Curry - http://

Michael Murphy & TSRB

Na Gaels  -

Jack Puskar  -

Red Hand Paddy  -

Rolling Scones  -


Pittsburgh Irish Dance Schools

            Bell School of Irish Dance

            Burke Irish Dancers

    Pittsburgh Irish Reelers

    Shovlin Academy of Dance

    Pittsburgh Ceili Club


Pittsburgh Irish Sports

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club (PIRC)

    Pittsburgh Banshees

    Pittsburgh Celtics     

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.




The Ireland Institute relies on its donor and volunteer network to continue its mission of mutual reconciliation and economic development. Your generosity is kindly appreciated.

The Ireland Institute is available to accept donations through the United Way. Please remember our code for the United Way Campaign of Southwestern Pennsylvania: 4534. We are also listed as a non-Profit under the Combined Federal Campaign. Our number is: 12438. A third option is to donate through the local Federal campaign. This number is: 9016.

If you prefer, a tax-deductible donation can also be made directly to the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh. The Ireland Institute also appreciates in-kind donations of furniture, housewares, event tickets etc. that we can then distribute to our participants.

For further information or questions about how you can donate, please complete the form below.




 All articles are adapted from www., the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Examiner, BBC, and other news sources.