The Common Ground

Vol. VIII, Issue 7


July 2010



Common Ground readers and other supporters of the Ireland Institute can now follow Jim on Twitter.

Log on to, and enter Jim's ID in the search tab.  His ID is Jim_Lamb.

You can now find us on Facebook! Go to and search Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and ‘become a fan’ to find out the latest news about our visitors or upcoming events.









The Ireland Institute's first Wider Horizons Participants of 2010 graduated on July 29th.  Here is Jim's speech from the graduation ceremony:


"Ladies and gentleman, it is my great honor to be with you here this evening as we celebrate yet another successful International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons Program.  Since 1989 the Ireland Institute has served over 1,600 young people on various training and exchange programs, and about 75% of them were here through Wider Horizons.  The Institute is the largest provider of overseas programs in the world to the International Fund for Ireland’s Wider Horizons team.  These young men and women comprise our 64th Wider Horizons Program.

For the past six weeks these young men and women, Protestant and Catholic, have lived, worked, and learned here in Pittsburgh, together, away from the comfortable surroundings of home…and away from those relentless “troubles” that continue to plague certain communities, in spite of the great work and collaboration between governments and community groups to bring normality and civil society to their homeland.

Do not be too alarmed. The peace process in Northern Ireland is working exceptionally well.  Unfortunately, you only hear about the disturbances around the 12th of July, when dissidents on both sides take the opportunity to invoke fear and hostility along the sectarian interfaces of Belfast, Derry, and smaller towns there.

You don’t hear about the good work of organizations like the Tyrone-Donegal Partnership that bring young people from the two sides together, leading programs that change their lives profoundly. And in the case of this group, the lives of many young Pittsburghers are changed too.  Over the past six weeks, these young men and women have been working at various summer day camps across the Pittsburgh area.   


The exchange of support – the U.S. contributes to the International Fund for Ireland, which develops a program to help young people deal with conflict and develop career skills.  And these young people from Ireland, North and South, practice those skills bringing hope and comfort and inspiration to disadvantaged younger people here in Pittsburgh.  This perpetual cycle of goodwill and paying forward is making all the difference.

So we congratulate these young men and women for all their achievements."

Join us. 




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

 * 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1410 * Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or

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

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                                                IIP NEWS

Over the last three months some of the graduates have arrived on our Carbon Zero Northern Ireland Program. The program centers around the Green/Renewable energy sector and will see 12 graduates from Northern Ireland spend a year in our region.  So far six students are here and settled, and six should arrive in the next month. The interns are spread out across the region at 10 companies, ranging from Alcosan, the county's sanitary authority; to the eCap network, an environmental consulting firm based in the Hill District. The Ireland Institute is seeking more internship placements- so if you know anyone working in this sector, please have them give us a call. Thanks to all those employers in Pittsburgh who have already considered this innovative program. Stay tuned!  For more information on the Carbon Zero Program, Click on the link to read an article featured in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: 

Carbon Zero Interns - Mick O'Reilly & Michelle McAteer

Our 1st Wider Horizons group of the year departed on Friday 30th July. Eighteen intrepid young people from Tyrone and Donegal interned at various summer camps throughout the city - learning how organizations such as the YMCA, Gwen's Girls, and United Cerebral Palsy help their client groups. While here the young people stayed with host families throughout the Pittsburgh area.  We would like to thank all the participating  organizations and host families for their support and commitment to the program.  Our next Wider Horizons group will be arriving in October.









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The European Court of Justice has ruled that Ryanair's takeover bid of Aer Lingus should be blocked. However, the court ruled that Ryanair can hold on to its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus. The court was ruling on the 2007 takeover bid by Ryanair of Aer Lingus.

Ryanair acquired a 19% stake in Aer Lingus after it was privatized in 2006. It then notified the European Commission that it was seeking a takeover. By the end of 2006, Ryanair had bought 25% of Aer Lingus shares. However, in June 2007 the Commission declared a takeover bid incompatible with EU competition rules. Ryanair challenged that decision and in the meantime brought its shareholding up to 29.8%. Ryanair said it is studying the judgment, which runs to 125 pages, but it welcomed the decision that it be allowed keep its shares in Aer Lingus.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said the ruling will not prevent Ryanair making another offer for Aer Lingus, but there are no immediate plans for a third offer. Mr. O'Leary said: 'We note the Court's decision on our appeal against the EU Commission's ruling on our 2006 offer for Aer Lingus. 'This will not prevent Ryanair making a future offer for Aer Lingus, but obviously any such offer will have to take account of the court's detailed ruling. 'Ryanair has no immediate plans to make a third offer for Aer Lingus, which in any event would be unlikely to succeed unless the Irish Government decides to sell its 25% stake. 'We continue to believe that the long term financial viability of Aer Lingus can only be secured as part of one strong Irish airline group.'

In a statement, Aer Lingus welcomed the Court's decision.

'Today's rejection by the European Court of Ryanair's appeal confirms that a takeover of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would harm consumers and lead to higher prices on Irish routes,' Aer Lingus Chairman Colm Barrington said. However, he expressed disappointment that Ryanair was not ordered to sell off its stake in the airline. He said: 'It is regrettable that the court has not taken this opportunity to take the further step necessary to address the anti-competitive effects of Ryanair's minority shareholding in Aer Lingus which is contrary to the interests of the majority of our shareholders.'  

200,000 MAY EMIGRATE BY 2015

The Economic and Social Research Institute has warned that 200,000 people may be forced to emigrate between now and 2015 if unemployment is not addressed. 
The ESRI has also warned that the Government will have to take more than €7.5bn out of the economy if it is to eliminate the State's deficit by 2015. In a report Recovery Scenarios for Ireland, the ESRI says the additional burden of the €25bn bailout of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide will hinder growth.  

The ESRI says the economy will improve but it is not sure when and to what extent. It has drawn up two scenarios - an optimistic one, where GDP growth recovers to 4.6%, and a pessimistic one, where growth only reaches 3.2%. 
In an ideal world, the international economy recovers, exports surge at home, competitiveness improves, banks resume lending by the end of this year, and the Government implements effective policies to tackle unemployment. 
It would also proceed firmly with painful Budget adjustments of at least €7.5bn over the next four years. In those circumstances, the deficit could fall to 2%, with unemployment plummeting to 4.8% by 2015.

However, if growth is slow, the ESRI forecasts a deficit of 4%, and unemployment remaining at over 7%. It also warns the Government would have to cut more than the anticipated €7.5bn.Unemployment will also trigger emigration. At best, 160,000 people will leave Ireland by 2014, at worst that could soar to 200,000.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Professor John FitzGerald of the ESRI said the economy could start to grow from 2012, but only if there were no unforeseen factors.  He said a mixture of spending and tax hikes would be needed in order to bring in revenue, but that bringing borrowing under control should be the priority.



The number of people on the Live Register for June rose to 452,882.

The unemployment rate now stands at 13.4%, up from 13.2% in May.

The seasonally adjusted figure for June was an increase of 5,800.

The Irish National Organization of the Unemployed has said Ireland urgently needs a coherent jobs strategy.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the only way to create more jobs is to be more competitive.

Mr. Cowen said the figures increased every June due to seasonal factors.

He said the increase this year was considerably less than the increase of more than 21,000 last year.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said there has never been more people unemployed in the State and that 300,000 more people are signing on since the 2007 General Election.

The Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed said that emerging from recession may make very little difference to unemployed people here and to those seeking their first job.

The organization cited what it called the International Monetary Fund's 'appalling vista' that Ireland is likely to emerge 'into a period of relatively modest growth potential and high unemployment.'

The organization's spokesperson, Bríd O'Brien, said the latest Live Register figures again underlined the urgent need for a Government jobs strategy.

She said it must envision where the jobs of tomorrow will be and ensure that unemployed people are supported to take up the right education and training courses.

But Government ministers have insisted that job creation is a priority and that it has a strategy to deal with the difficulties of unemployment.

The Minister for Social Protection, Éamon Ó Cuív, said the recently-introduced Employer PRSI Incentive Scheme would help job-growth and counter the drift into long-term unemployment and welfare dependency.

In a statement, he said the scheme was focused on people who had been on the Live Register for six months or more.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe, said training programs and extra places in further and higher education were re-skilling the workforce to take up new jobs in growth areas of the economy.

He promised that the Government would persist with its focus on the core recovery policies that will get people back to work.

Those policies are competitiveness, human capital, innovation, infrastructure, the green economy and trade.









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The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a tender for a company to distribute 'Certificates of Irish Heritage', which holders could display in their homes, give to their children as gifts or use to get discounts at Irish tourist attractions.

As the tender document explains, anyone born in Ireland, born to an Irish parent or with a grandparent born in Ireland can qualify for full Irish citizenship.

However, those who are just 'aware they are of Irish descent and feel a strong affinity for Ireland' but are too many generations removed to get an Irish passport would appreciate a document to prove their origins, the Department said.

Members of the diaspora, which is estimated at 70 million, could get the certificates for an as-yet-unspecified fee.

Eligibility criteria would not be 'overly cumbersome' and probably will not require the submission of any original documents, though birth certificates, death or marriage records could be taken into consideration, the ministry said.

It said the idea had been one of the practical proposals of the 'Global Irish Economic Forum' last year, a summit of CEOs and media personalities of Irish origin from around the world who brainstormed about ways of getting Ireland out of recession.

It said the proposal had received an 'overwhelmingly positive response' abroad. 'We should not belittle or undermine the value of this sentiment,' the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

However, some are not so impressed.

'Selling a cutesy little heirloom document purporting to confirm such identity, even at a modest fee, has predatory undertones,' wrote Martina Devlin in a column for the Irish Independent newspaper.

'It puts a price on something which shouldn't be bought or sold,' she said.

She added: 'What's on offer is tawdry, tricksy and really kind of icky. Prize bulls and pedigree dogs, even cars, can be certified - never people.'


On June 30, 2010, Iarnród Éireann lodged its application to build Dublin's Underground DART designed to link-up the city's transportation system.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has consistently said that the Underground DART and Metro North will both go ahead despite a combined cost of around €5bn.

The application to An Bord Pleanála for the Underground DART comes as the board prepares to give its decision, expected by the end of next month, on Metro North.

Metro North will run from the city centre to Swords.

The Underground DART, or Interconnector, has been described as the most important part of Transport 21.

Running from the Docklands to Heuston Station and Inchicore, it will allow rail passengers from Cork to connect to Belfast.

It will open up two DART lines, one running from Balbriggan to Kildare the other from Maynooth to Bray, intersecting at Pearse Street Station.

The Underground DART will also link with Metro North at St. Stephen's Green, with the Inter-city lines at Heuston and with the LUAS.

Like the Metro North it will be a public-private partnership and the Government will not have to pay for its construction until it is completed as planned in 2018.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce has called on the Minister for Transport to publicly commit financially to the project's completion.

Its chief executive Gina Quinn said the DART Underground is a long-term investment that will pay divides to residents, commuters and tourists each and every day.


The famous shepherd and sheep sculpture outside Belfast's Waterfront Hall has been "yarn bombed". It's graffiti meets knitting - and statues across the city could soon be sporting colourful knits to celebrate August craft month in the city. So far, the shepherd has been promised a scarf and the sheep warm tops to keep out the chill of a Belfast summer.

Knitters Siobhan Barbour, Claire Concannon and Gemma Withers have promised visitors fresh style. The traditional tour of the city sights is turning crafty.

Joe Kelly, director of Craft NI, said he hoped the project would help inspire the public to find out more about the creative and skilled work of Northern Ireland's designer makers. "Belfast, with its historical position as the hub of the linen industry, is an ideal place for people to rediscover the joy of working with textiles to make their own, unique products. "The city is known for its colourful murals and street art. Yarn bombing is an extension of this communal and collaborative process of adding colour and interest through exploring familiar locations through the eyes of an artist."

Yarn bombing is just one of the skills featured in craft month, organised by Craft NI. The idea of yarn bombing or 'graffiti knitting' originates from the US, where knitters decided to find new and creative ways of using leftover material. The practice has really taken off, with artists and craftspeople throughout the world using knitted and crocheted materials to add splashes of colour and texture to their built environment.

Knitting and crocheting groups have been formed throughout the world as a reaction to the mass production of cheap garments, the destruction of old skills and the commercial exploitation of third-world communities.

This project is just one of more than 40 events taking place during the month.

Its theme is "Slow Movement" and the focus is on spending time to rediscover skills.


CONSTRUCTION work has yet to begin on flood defences in some of the areas worst hit by last November's catastrophic flooding that left large parts of the country underwater.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said yesterday that contractors had yet to be hired to build projects in Cork, Tipperary and Clare despite funding being approved, while other schemes in Meath, Carlow, Waterford and Kildare are still at the planning stage.

The admission came after a damning report criticised the government response to the flooding and sub-zero weather crisis in November, December and January. It said the state's response lacked leadership and the necessary structures were not in place to deal with a major emergency. A "complex and confusing" system, the all-party Environment Committee found, meant planning for emergencies was "unsatisfactory", while it was "untrue" that the State was properly resourced and able to cope with the crisis. The report raised serious concerns about the national emergency plan -- known as the Framework for Major Emergency Management -- put in place in 2008 that set out how the crisis was supposed to be handled.

Unprecedented rainfall in late October and early November 2009 resulted in severe and prolonged flooding across many parts of the country, with land, homes and businesses flooded, while hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes. The following month, the coldest winter since 1963 caused widespread travel disruption and damage to roads and property. Water was cut off to thousands of homes as pipes burst, many of which were poorly laid.

Insurance claims for damage to property have amounted to almost €550m, while the damage to roads is put at €180m. "We believe that the extent to which people were affected and impacted could have been lessened with better planning and coordination," committee chairman Sean Fleming said. "There seems to be a distinct lack of clarity regarding who is ultimately in charge." The report said the number of bodies responsible for waterways in Ireland was "breathtaking" and communication between agencies must be improved. Critically, it also called for an independent investigation into the release of millions of tonnes of water into the River Lee by the ESB from the Inniscarra Dam which worsened the flooding in Cork City. The ESB said it issued adequate warnings about the volume of water being released -- a claim denied by the city council. Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday insisted the state's response was adequate, and that he was "satisfied" with how the emergency was tackled. "The response of the emergency services was outstanding. Let us also emphasise that there was also a wonderful community response," he said.







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American flags flapped in the wind, blue smoke swirled from barbeques, and Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers presided over a game of American football. It could have been a July 4th event in the United States. But this was Dublin, Ireland, where Rooney is the U.S. ambassador, and he was making history by staging an “Irish American Flag Football Classic” at his residence in the capital city’s Phoenix Park.

Rooney brought 32 members of his extended family to Dublin for the occasion, including his sons Art Rooney, team president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dan, the Steelers' college scout. The pair were given two days to select and train opposing teams of Irish and American volunteers, the “Dublin 8s” and the “Phoenix Park Pirates,” for a challenge game as the centerpiece of an old-fashioned July 4th picnic.  Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen took a break from watching World Cup games on television and was given the honor of tossing the coin.  The team rosters included embassy diplomats and marines, local Gaelic football, rugby and soccer players, and the neighbor’s kids — Ireland’s president Mary McAleese lives in a nearby wooded estate and her son, Justin, kitted out in yellow for the Dublin 8s and daughter, Emma, played in blue for the Pirates.

The idea of a first-ever American football game at the residence arose after Rooney presented his credentials to President McAleese on July 3rd last year. He discovered next day that the U.S. embassy staged an Independence Day baseball game on the 62-acre property.  "Hey, if you can do a baseball game, you can have a football game,” Rooney told me.  The decision to replace baseball with football involved lengthy preparation. It took two months to prepare a football arena on the vast meadow in front of the elegant 230-year-old residence, which before Irish independence belonged to Britain’s Chief Secretary in Ireland. The task was undertaken by Peter McKenna, stadium director of Dublin’s Croke Park. “The ambassador asked could we make a pitch,” said McKenna, making a last minute inspection as hundreds of Irish and American guests gathered on the sidelines."There was a lot of undulating ground and we had to lift the grass and fill in the holes to create a flat surface.”

He provided bleachers, American Football posts (made in Belfast) and giant television screens for live coverage and play-backs, and had the word “Steelers” painted on the thick-blade meadow grass and the ambassador’s seal of office in the middle.  McKenna constructed the pitch pro bono as a way of saying thank you to American team owners, including Rooney, who had provided advice for the reconstruction six years ago of the stands at Croke Park, the home of Gaelic Football, which now have a capacity of 82,000.

“The Croke Park people did a marvelous job,” said Rooney at the start of the event, which was sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and Pepsico. As someone credited for the “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for management and coaching vacancies, I asked the ambassador what was the “Rooney Rule” on this occasion. He had ruled, he said, that it should be a non-contact game of flag football, played with only eight on each side as the ground was somewhat smaller than regulation size. Historic trees on the fringes could not be moved to make it bigger. These included a northern red oak planted by Vice President George H. W. Bush on a visit in 1983, and a giant spruce put there in 1868 by the Prince of Wales.

The one thing the ambassador could not guarantee was the cooperation of the notoriously fickle Irish summer weather.  “We walked around the pitch saying the rosary every evening and praying for sunshine,” the ambassador’s wife, Patricia, told me. The Rooneys are practicing Catholics and the ambassador attends mass every day, wherever his duties take him. The gods were listening. After a morning of rain the clouds rolled away and the game was played in blazing sunshine. Cowen and most everyone else took off their jackets, munched on hot dogs, scooped up ice cream, and watched the Dublin 8s hammer the Pirates 28-15.


If you are interested in becoming a Host Family for the Wider Horizons Program in 2010, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:





Help the Institute:


Sunday, August 15

Allegheny County LAOH will sponsor 'Our Lady of Knock Mass' at St.Patrick's Church, 17th Street & Liberty Ave in the Strip, 11:00AM

Pittsburgh Gaelic Football Club, Celtics vs Cleveland, St. Jarlath @ Founders Field.


Friday, August 20

Pittsburgh Gaelic Football Club will sponsor a Fundraiser, details TBD


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 Gaelic Athletic Association (PGAA)

- a representative organization of the Pittsburgh Celtics, Pittsburgh Banshees, and Pittsburgh Celtics Youth


Pittsburgh Hurling Club (PHC)


become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 22nd year!  It airs every Sunday afternoon at 12:30-2:00p.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



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 -

Michael Murphy & TSRB

Na Gaels  -

Jack Puskar  -  

Red Hand Paddy  -

Rolling Scones  -

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 such as event tickets etc. that we can then distribute to our participants.


For further information or questions about how you can donate, please contact us at 412-394-3900.


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