Read Jim Lamb's editorial as featured in this week's Irish Echo


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 7


      July 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 

(The following editorial by IIP President, James Lamb, was featured in this week's edition of the IRISH ECHO, America's largest Irish weekly publication, based in New York. Jim's is the first in a series featuring Irish American leaders' opinions on the evolving relationship between Ireland and America)


Devolution and the installation of a joint local authority in Northern Ireland, important victories for the island of Ireland, have left many committed Irish Americans wondering what to do next. 

 Is there a role for Irish America in a peaceful and prosperous ancestral land? Will Ireland thrive regardless of Irish American interest and involvement?  And in the global context, can Ireland’s success story of peace and prosperity bring hope to other places mired in conflict and poverty? 

 For decades Irish America has been a contributor, a shelter, an employer, a champion for Ireland.  America was the land of opportunity.  And Ireland survived, thanks in part to the support of her emigrants and subsequent generations of Irish American diaspora.  The hardships that mark Ireland’s history resulted in wave after wave of new Irish immigrants to the United States, further strengthening the link between Ireland and America.

 Recent prosperity in Ireland has reversed the direction of immigration.  Thousands of Irish have returned to terrific career opportunities there.  Ireland’s economic emergence has attracted workers from around the world.  The US Department of State reports that, since 2004, the Irish economy has created 270,000 new jobs.  Over 200,000 foreign workers, primarily Polish, have moved to Ireland in the past three years.  Other Eastern Europeans continue to pour in to Ireland, not to mention African refugees, Brazilian tradesmen, Chinese students, South Asian entrepreneurs, and yes, even British laborers are taking jobs the wealthy Irish will not perform.

 The economy of Ireland is one of the strongest in the world, achieving average annual growth of seven percent (7%) over the past ten years according to government reports.  In spite of the rising cost of living, and traffic gridlock around Dublin, US companies in knowledge-based economy industries continue to invest and expand there.  Lower corporate taxes and plenty of talented workers make this an easy decision.  For new investors, Ireland’s ever-improving infrastructure and all-island approach to development facilitate profitable opportunities in Cork, Belfast, Limerick, Derry, Galway, and smaller towns beyond the Pale.

 The newfound wealth in Ireland is also creating a new dynamic.  Irish investors are now seeking opportunities in the US.  This is still the largest national economy in the world.  And Ireland is poised to invest.

 But Ireland still has important social, economic, and cultural challenges.  Some are familiar. Others are new. 

 While peace has taken hold in the North, constructive dialogue among and within the communities remains a work in progress.  Commitments to a political solution have led Nationalists and Unionists to share common ground, but true reconciliation may take another generation. 

 In addition, the most disadvantaged, economically distressed areas, continue to breed ignorance, hatred, and despair.  A report from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on low-income households in 2002, showed that Belfast’s inner city accounted for 18 % of the North’s population yet it contained over 30% of Northern Ireland’s poorest households.  Likewise, the Southern and Western Border areas had 20% of the population, but 36% of the low-income households.  In these communities, where criminal gangs still offer false promises to vulnerable young people, much work remains.

 Peace and prosperity in Ireland have transformed the island in countless positive ways.  But the growing pains accompanying change present new problems.

 Immigration to Ireland has challenged the governments to deal with ethnic and cultural diversity, foreign languages, social exclusion, swollen welfare roles, anti-immigrant sentiment, hate crimes, and deportation.  A 2004 poll indicated that 60% of Irish voters felt immigrants to Ireland were hurting the country to some degree, in spite of foreign laborers’ contributions to the Celtic Tiger mentioned above.

 Another important concern is Ireland’s general physical health.  Sedentary lifestyles, poor diets and excessive consumption of affordable drugs, tobacco, and alcohol have led to dramatic increases in obesity, type-II diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  According to Health Promotion Unit Ireland, one in eight Irish people are obese, and every second person is overweight.  The anxiety and stress of this fast-paced lifestyle could lead to serious mental health problems, including depression.

 I believe Irish America has an important role to play in all these matters.  And I am happy to report that many Irish American initiatives are under way to meet these challenges.

 Through a network of leading Irish Americans and organizations in Ireland, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh continues to reach out to young people in Northern Ireland’s most depressed communities to provide vocational training, and personal and professional development.  We also will facilitate another US business delegation in 2008 to explore transatlantic trade and investment opportunities between Ireland and Pittsburgh.

 We intend to spur discussions between Pittsburgh area leaders and their Irish counterparts, North and South, to discuss urgent and priority issues in education, social development, and health, to exchange ideas and create mutually beneficial solutions.

 We will apply our knowledge and experience, working for peace and reconciliation to other regions in conflict.  Divided communities in Cyprus, South Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and elsewhere provide unlimited opportunities to test an important hypothesis: That our models for peace, reconciliation, and prosperity are transferable.

 Irish America should continue to celebrate the achievement of peace in Northern Ireland.  Let’s now focus on and facilitate reconciliation.  Let’s view Ireland as a partner with its own significant resources and skills.  In partnership we can help each other solve the social ills that accompany advanced economies.  Let’s continue to remind Ireland and ourselves of the profound contributions we’ve made to each other and to the international community.  And let us work together as developed nations to bring peace, justice, reconciliation, and prosperity to every corner of the world.

Jim Lamb


Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


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Planning a trip to Ireland over the next couple of months, do so carefully as the Dollar continues to weaken against other currencies.

The dollar fell to a record low against the euro last Wednesday amid growing fears about the economic fall-out of problems in the United States housing market.

Dealers said prospects of higher interest rates in Europe were adding to the heavy selling pressure on the dollar, which also lost ground against the yen.

The euro climbed to an all-time high of $1.38 in Tokyo.

Sterling went up to $2.05 because of growing expectations of another rise in British interest rates.


Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley has declared the ice age between north-south relations over.  In a rapidly changing political landscape Dr Paisley yesterday attended his first ever North-South Ministerial Council meeting.

At the historical meeting the Democratic Unionist Party leader said people on both sides of the border never wanted to return to the days of conflict and tragedy.  The DUP boycotted north-south meetings during the first attempts at devolution but its ministers wholeheartedly entered into this, the first session in five years.

Mr Paisley said "I think we have turned the corner. It is up to us to see that now we build something that will be stable and strong. It is a tall order." He said the task rested on the shoulders of the politicians and they were not shunning it.

Both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein`s Martin McGuinness, hailed the meeting between ministers from Belfast and Dublin as productive and engaging.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the round table talks as being "as lively and all-embracing an engagement as I have ever been at".

And in a telling moment on the ever-improving relationship between the Unionist and Republican leaders, Mr McGuinness heaped praise on Mr Paisley.

"I want to pay tribute to the leadership shown by the leader of the DUP, our First Minister Ian Paisley," he said.

"I think he has made a very powerful contribution to bringing the position to where it is….there is tremendous hope on this island."

The meeting heard news of a £400 million Irish Government-funded major roads program which will provide dual carriageway routes within Northern Ireland.

They will serve both the northwest and the eastern seaboard corridor from Belfast to the ferry port of Larne and the Northern Ireland Executive confirmed its acceptance, in principle, to take forward the two projects.

Ministers also agreed to proceed with the restoration of another section of the Ulster Canal - part of a £100 million scheme which will eventually provide navigable water from the north of Northern Ireland right through to the River Shannon and across the Republic.


John Gormley has been inundated with messages of congratulations following his election as leader of the Green Party following last months resignation of former leader Trevor Sargent.

Mr. Sargent resigned following a promise made to voters that he would not lead his party into government with Fianna Fail, a decision the party made shortly after the last election.

Mr Gormley, who is currently the Minister for the Environment, gained over 66% of the votes to beat his opponent former Dublin MEP Patricia McKenna. 

Gormley has held many positions in The Green Party including Campaign Director for the successful anti-smog campaign in the 1980`s and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Health and Children.

He introduced a number of private members bills to the House including the Energy Conservation Bill and The Road Traffic Reduction Bill.

He is the author of the Green Guide for Ireland and has the distinction of being the first elected representative in Ireland to have an email address!

Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, was among the first to send congratulations, saying Mr Gormley`s success came as no surprise to anyone who had observed his journey in politics and he wished him well in the job.


The Garda Traffic Division is to start a new initiative notifying motorists of collision zones where speed checks will be concentrated.


The Assistant Commissioner for Traffic, Eddie Rock, has rejected comments from the operators of a website that speed checks exist in order to generate revenue.


Meanwhile, the Road Safety Authority has played down the significance of a website that offers an interactive map of locations of speed cameras around Ireland.


The RSA says it is aware of, but says it is interested in the volume of people changing their driving behaviour, not how many people the Gardaí catch for speeding.

Noel Brett, CEO of the RSA, said that the purpose of fixed and mobile cameras is to reinforce the message how dangerous excessive speed is, noting that in 40% of collisions on Irish roads speed is the main factor. 

'The critical issue is to change behaviour', Mr Brett said, and pointed out that the new speed cameras, the contract for which is being outsourced at the moment, will be clearly identified to motorists.


Mr Brett also pointed out that on the official Garda Síochána website, details of the most dangerous stretches of road are documented, and said that gardaí have openly stated that enforcement is targeted in those areas.











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Ireland's Catholic bishops have decided to move the church's celebration of St Patrick's Day to March 15th next year.

The decision has been taken because March 17th coincides with the start of Holy Week.

The church will now celebrate the feast day two days early, but the decision is unlikely to have any affect on traditional St Patrick's Day celebrations, which will almost certainly go ahead as normal on March 17th.


An Post, the Republic's postal service, has issued a new stamp marking the centenary of the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann.


The 55c stamp shows a girls' choir from Coláiste losagáin in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, alongside a border in the national colours.


Originally written in English by Peadar Kearney in 1907, the 'Soldier's Song' was later translated into the Irish language by Liam Ó Rinn. Peadar Kearney, along with Patrick Heeney, also wrote the music. 


The song consists of three verses and a chorus, but it was the chorus that was formally adopted as the National Anthem in 1926, replacing 'God Save Ireland'.


The first two lines of the anthem and the last two, played together, form the Presidential Salute, which is played when the President of Ireland attends official events.


It became known when it was sung in the GPO during the Easter Rising in 1916.


In 1934, the State acquired the copyright of Amhrán na bhFiann for the then enormous sum of £1,200, with specific authorisation written into the Appropriation Act that year.



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

This August 25th, twenty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will arrive in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  The group from Monaghan & Armagh 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.

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family, please contact us at (412) 394.3900.






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Joe Kernan has officially ended his reign as Armagh senior football manager.


Appointed in August 2001, Kernan led Armagh to their first ever All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC) title the following year and added four Ulster SFC crowns and a National League title to the Orchard trophy cabinet during his time in charge. Armagh were also All-Ireland runners-up in 2003.


Kernan, 53, was re-appointed for a three-year term in 2005 but has decided to bow out a year early to allow a new management team to come in.

An Armagh County Board statement said “the board would like to sincerely thank Joe and his entire backroom team for the devotion and commitment they have given to Armagh football and to recognize the major roles that they all played during what has proven to be the most successful period in the county's history.”

The board went on to praise Kernan's 'attention to detail on every aspect of football and his player management.'


However, 2007 was a year to forget for Kernan's side as they lost four times in the National League and missed out on a place in the restructured Division One, their chances of retaining the Ulster title were ended by Donegal at the quarter-final stage and they lost to Derry first time out in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

In other Gaelic Football news, the Championship is in full-swing with Dublin, Kerry, Sligo and Tyrone - the provincial winners lying in wait to play the winners of the following matches: Cork vs. Louth, Galway vs. Meath, Laois vs. Derry, Donegal vs. Monaghan, in the All-Ireland Quarter Finals.

The final itself takes place in Croke Park on Sunday 16th September.


















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Our Mission:


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ , July 12 – Aug 4; ‘Private Lives’, Aug 16 – Sep 9; ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Dec. 6-22.  Performances at the Charity Randal Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial.  Info; PICT 412.561.6000. Tickets  or 412.394.3353.

Pittsburgh Celtics Junior Gaelic Football Team will hold a Trivia Fundraiser at the Harp & Fiddle at 7pm. All are welcome - it'll be a fun evening.                                                                             Friday, July 20th 

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh will have a summer camp-out. Contact Jim Graven at for more information.                                                                            Saturday, July 21st

Pittsburgh Celtics Men's Gaelic Football Team play host to Cleveland St. Jarlath's in a top of the table Irish Football clash at Founders Field, Indianola at 2pm.                                            Sunday, July 29th

The Year of Remembrance Committee will host Alan Brecknell with the Pat Finucane Center in Newry, County Down.  He will address a Pittsburgh audience at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle.  Mr. Brecknell is doing a Masters degree LLM in Human Rights Law at Univ. of Ulster at the Transitional Justice Institute.  His presentation will be on “Political Collusion and the Quest for Reconciliation, Truth Recovery and Healing in Ireland”. Donations accepted at the door.  50 / 50 Raffle. All proceeds benefit the Pat Finucane Center.  Doors open 5:00pm.  Dinner will be available from the menu, Cash bar available.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Information: Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin, 412.782.2715,  or Diane Byrnes                                               Monday, August 6th

AOH Division 32's Greater Pittsburgh Irish Open Golf Scramble at Fort Cherry Golf Club at 8:00 a.m.  Contact Bill Delaney at 412.531.2764 or Ed Blank at 412.854.5555.  Print out Registration                                                       Friday, August 10th

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’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.