Read about the results of the Irish Elections 2009


The Common Ground

Vol. VII, Issue 6


June 2009



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 jlamb1410.

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.








What a year we’ve had here in Pittsburgh!  The Steelers, the Penguins, the G-20 Summit, the “most livable city” awards! 


And the Irish community stories: The Institute’s 20th year, the Irish Ambassador’s visit,  Dan Rooney’s appointment as US Ambassador to Ireland, the AOH/LAOH State convention coming in July. Can it get any better than this?


Of course it can!  This is our time to shine.  We have so much to be thankful for and so much to share with the world.  And now the world is taking notice.  And Ireland, North and South, is connecting with Pittsburgh in many interesting ways.  You’ll read in this issue of “Common Ground” about Irish links with Pittsburgh’s Children’s Institute and the Mattress Factory.  And it doesn’t stop there.  UPMC announced further investment in its Dublin operations.  Carlow University is developing an Irish American Studies program.  The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild is partnering with the University of Limerick to improve the lives of that Irish city’s most disadvantaged young people.


These connections between Pittsburgh and Ireland are important.  They contribute to our local economy, our diversity, and our creativity. They facilitate the local Irish community’s relationship with its ancestral home.  You may recall late last year, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen directed Ambassador Michael Collins to assess the US-Ireland Relationship.  Irish Economist and writer, David McWilliams, in his book, “Generation Game,” encourages Ireland, its government and its people to nurture the Irish diaspora in the hope that such connections would benefit Ireland.  They know the important role that Irish America and the global Irish diaspora can play in sustaining Ireland’s place among the nations of the world.  With no significant natural resources, and no longer any cheap work force, Ireland has to rely on its talent.  And when she considers a pool of some 70 million who claim Irish heritage, Ireland is compelled to take full advantage by reaching out to tap that talent.


Pittsburgh’s Irish community has a strong core of folks, men, women, young and old, keeping these connections alive.  The advocacy organizations, the dance groups, the sports clubs, the Gaelic language enthusiasts, and many other groups and individuals have made these connections a top priority.  We need to build on that.  We need to showcase it.  Both Pittsburgh and Ireland can continue to learn a lot from each other.  And together, we can teach the world a thing or two.  To me, that’s as good as it gets.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh



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

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

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During the past school year, students of The Day School at The Children’s Institute participated in an exciting program that took them all the way to Northern Ireland…without ever having to leave Squirrel Hill!


Approximately once each month, students from Carol Pollard’s classroom and a classroom at Foyle View School in Derry, Northern Ireland, met as a group via real-time video conferencing. The Day School at The Children’s Institute is an approved private school for children ages 2 through 21 who are challenged by complex and severe disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy and/or neurological impairments. Foyle View offers services similar to those offered in The Day School, and is a controlled special school for children with severe learning difficulties, aged between 3 and 19 years, who live in Derry and surrounding districts. During the project sessions, teachers placed a camera in the classroom so that students were able to see the actual space in which their counterparts work.


“I think they were surprised by how much they had in common with the Foyle View students and intrigued by some of the differences,” says Carol Pollard. “Both groups are into movies, music and sports, although some of my students could not get used to the fact that in Northern Ireland, they call soccer ‘football.’”


In addition, each student and each adult in the program was given a user name and a password to access Learning Northern Ireland (LNI) where he or she was able to leave messages, have online discussions or share information with a friend that they may not have wished to share during a video conference with the entire group.   As an added bonus, students from Franklin Regional High School came to The Day School to teach our students how to establish accounts on “Facebook” so that communication can continue throughout the year.


As an initial first step in the process of learning about one another, students from both schools completed  “passports” introducing themselves to their counterparts in the other school. These “passports” contained the student’s photo as well as information about age, his or her family, pets, favorite things, etc. They were then e-mailed to their Web friends so that some information was known prior to the first meeting in the virtual classroom.


Whenever students were online at The Day School, and during all video conferences originating at school, teachers and other staff were present. All of the computers in The Day School are protected with filters that deny access to any Website that contains questionable material.


This program was designed to raise students’ awareness of themselves and the world around them. It began with exploration of their community, and extended outward. Additionally, students in both schools were encouraged to think about how to communicate their ideas to others using video and text, develop skills in the use of digital photography and video and meet and become friends with students in another country. Carol Pollard reflects, “We started off the year eager to learn about a foreign country, and by the end of the year, we felt that the Foyle View students were our friends.”


"We are thrilled to bring this project to our students," says Bill Bauer, director of The Day School at The Children’s Institute. "This experience is unique and exciting for everyone involved, and reinforces the position of The Day School as a leader in best practices for students with disabilities.”


Participating Day School staff included Carol Pollard, teacher, Alice Schaeffer, educational supervisor and Bill Bauer, director. Dr. Susan O’Rourke, chair, Department of Special Education and Educational Technology at Carlow University acts as a consultant and an active participant in this project.


For more information about the Foyle View School program, please contact Bill Bauer at 412.420.2300 or


Thanks to Michele Mehal at The Children's Institute for submitting this story.


If you have any interesting stories that you think Common Ground readers might be interested to hear - please send them to



A German software company is creating 30 jobs in an expansion of its research and development center in Derry.

Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the expansion by InVision Software. She is due to visit to the company at Northland Road later this morning.

The company said ten of the new staff for the high quality software development, customer support and documentation posts had already been recruited and the remaining twenty would follow.

The minister said: "InVision is precisely the type of innovative company that we are targeting for investment and reinvestment, with its specialized development activities in the IT sector and its commitment to providing high quality career opportunities."

Mrs Foster added that InVision's long-term plans to further expand its R&D center were yet another welcome boost to the development of a strong knowledge-based economy.

InVision says it is an international provider of workforce management software solutions.

Operations director Stephen Williams said the company, which started up in Derry in 2001, plans to bring total employment to 60 by 2012.

He said the strong performance of the center, combined with a sound skills base and Invest NI support, made it an appropriate location for InVision's R&D operations.

Invest NI offered £251,000 in financial support for the expansion.




Four of the five men being sued by the families of the Omagh bomb victims have been found liable for the atrocity carried out by the Real IRA in 1998. The Omagh families said the ruling had brought them a measure of justice.


In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Morgan awarded combined damages of over £1.5m to the relatives who brought a lawsuit against five men they believed were responsible for the Omagh bombing.


The judge found Michael McKevitt, who is serving a sentence for directing terrorism for the Real IRA, to be responsible for the attack.


Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were also held liable for the August 1998 attack. The case against a fifth defendant, Seamus McKenna, was dismissed.


More than 20 of the Omagh relatives were in court to hear the verdict.


29 people including a woman pregnant with twins died in the Real IRA attack in August 1998.


Frustrated by the lack of a criminal prosecution in the case, the relatives of some of those who died launched this landmark civil action over eight years ago. The families also filed a claim against the Real IRA, the first time a paramilitary group had been sued. It was also found liable for the attack in today's ruling.


The case began in April last year and made legal history when the judge crossed the border to hear evidence from Gardaí at a court in Dublin.




Irish voters rejected the country's governing coalition in local elections and two by-elections as results were released on Saturday 6th June.

Of the 883 local council seats, Fine Gael won over a third of the vote with 340 seats, while Fianna Fáil were successful in just under a quarter on 218. The Labour Party under leader Eamon Gilmore were the other big winner at 132, Gerry Adams' Sinn Féin held 54, with the Green Party winning an extremely disappointing 3. Independents gained 136 seats.


Election Day 2009 also saw two by-elections take place for seats in the Dail. In Dublin South, George Lee (the former RTE Economics Editor) of Fine Gael won a special election for a parliamentary seat with more than 27,000 votes. He outpolled the combined total of the Labor and Fianna Fáil parties, giving him a first-round victory. Independent Maureen O'Sullivan won by a smaller margin in Dublin Central.


After the election, Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, called for a vote of no confidence in the government but the motion was defeated. Taoiseach Brian Cowen, while acknowledging the election results were bad for his party, said he planned to continue to govern until a general election in 2012. The election outcome has left both Mr. Cowen, and the Green Party leader, John Gormley, facing serious internal party difficulties at a time when their ability to manage their coalition will be stress-tested like never before.

Ultimately, Fianna Fáil TDs will be looking to see what strategy offers the best prospect of retaining the maximum number of seats in a general election. Many are privately worried about the prospect of a general election under Brian Cowen's leadership. Yet changing leader is not going to change the reality of the economic or budgetary challenges.


But whenever a general election comes Fianna Fáil can be assured of survival. The same cannot be said for the Green Party. The party is now in the same territory that brought about the demise of the PDs.


In the European elections, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald lost her seat in Dublin, while Libertas' leader Declan Ganley, the man almost single-handedly responsible for last years 'No' vote on the Lisbon Treaty, failed to be elected in the North-West constituency. Mr. Ganley has since retired from politics.


Of the 12 seats available in the European elections: Fine Gael won 4, Fianna Fáil won 3, Labour won 3 while Independents took 2 seats.




A woman has been appointed to the second most important policing job in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie has been promoted to be the new PSNI Deputy Chief Constable. 

The appointment of the 46-year-old, currently in charge of the PSNI Rural Region, to the post was made by the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Board chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said she brought a wealth of policing experience to the role and would play a key part in moving policing forward.

He said the calibre of candidates for the job was extremely high and he wanted to thank those who were not successful for their interest in the post and their commitment to policing.

A PSNI spokeswoman said Ms Gillespie was making no comment on her appointment tonight.

She has been a police officer in Northern Ireland for 27 years and was the first female officer from the PSNI to attend the Strategic Command Course at Bramshill in 2003.

She returned to Belfast as an Acting Assistant Chief Constable and confirmed in the post by the board the following year. 

She has both a BA Honors and a Masters in Criminology from Cambridge University.

Her appointment marks the start of big changes at the top of the PSNI. 

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, has announced his retirement from the top job and is expected to leave in September.







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The Irish State Examinations Commission recently decided to postpone Leaving Certificate English Paper Two, both Higher and Ordinary levels, after it emerged that students in one exam center had already seen the paper. The examination was rescheduled to take place on a Saturday morning using a contingency paper. English Paper Two was opened by mistake at an examination center in Co Louth. 

The error was immediately spotted and the papers were taken back, according to the state Examinations Commission. It has confirmed that a number of students did see the exam paper.


In a statement, the Examinations Commission said that the exam was rescheduled in 'fairness to all candidates' taking the subject and 'in order to protect the integrity of the examination process' the Leaving Certificate English Paper two, Higher and Ordinary Level.

Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe said the decision to defer the exam was made in consultation with the education partners. He said that the Commission's decision has, by necessity, been taken in a very restricted time frame.

More than 115,000 second level students sat their Leaving and Junior Certificate exams this year. The students will be examined in almost 100 different subjects and more than 3m exam papers have been printed.





Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has predicted that the Irish economic recovery could take five years.

Speaking in Dublin, Professor Krugman said he expects that Ireland will face 'a very hard slog' but he said 'the adjustment is working'. He ruled out the Ireland defaulting on debt and said it was hard to see why the cost of Irish Government borrowings had reached such high levels in recent months.

Professor Krugman said it was clear the Government had been 'cheering on the bubble' but he also pointed out it was asking too much to ask governments to fight bubbles.

Speaking in the National Gallery Prof Krugman said the Government should nationalise 'weak' banks and leave others on their own

Governor of the Central Bank John Hurley has said after a bad 2009, there will be 'extended and gradual' economic recovery next year. Mr Hurley said the whole of 2009 will be very difficult. He said Ireland's economic recovery will take time and be gradual, but that the benefits of the recovery will begin to be seen next year.

He also predicted that the adjustment in house prices over the past 18 months had been inevitable and that prices have further to fall.



The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh’s museum of contemporary art, announced the selection of Mark Garry and Georgina Jackson as Curators in Residence.  After and extensive world-wide search, Garry and Jackson, two Dublin-based curators, were chosen to work in residence to develop exhibitions for the museum. 


The Mattress Factory is known throughout the world for the excellence of its artistic and education programs, challenging the status quo, and invigorating the Pittsburgh art scene.  You can learn more at






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Galway played host to one of the biggest crowds in Irish history with more than 100,000 people crammed into the seafront to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday 31st May. More than 300,000 thousand people visited the race village in the first nine days of the festival and the event is believed to have generated about in excess of €43m ($61m) to the local economy.


The weather certainly helped. Ireland basked in a mini-heatwave with temperatures on a par with New York in the mid-70s. The coastline from the Claddagh to Barna village was packed with people and 3-mile tailbacks forced many people to just abandon their card and walk. 


Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race and former participant in the race, was the man faced with the decision of sending the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway. A decision he can now see the benefits of. "Of all the stopover ports they have visited around the world in this 2008-09 series, Ireland's stopover in Galway has by far exceeded all other stopover ports and is a model to be followed for future ports," said Frostad.

The Irish-Chinese Boat, Green Dragon, arrived into Galway in 3rd place and is currently 6th in the overall rankings. Skipper Ian Walker said the crowds were amazing. "Even from where we were, out on the bay, it was quite amazing to look back at the crowds that lined the shore," he said.


The Swedish entry, Eriksson 4, won the Boston - Galway leg and are favorites to win the overall competition.


The nine-month, 42,500-mile race started in Alicante, Spain, in October and finishes in St. Petersburg, Russia, this summer after visiting South Africa, India, Singapore, China, Brazil, the United States, Ireland and Sweden. Points are awarded for arriving in a port first, for being the first to reach markers along the way and for in-port racing. Each of the seven entries has a sailing team of 11 crewmembers. They race day and night for more than 30 days at a time on some of the legs. While racing, crews eat freeze dried food, experience temperature variations from 25 to 104 degrees Farenheit and only have one change of clothes.


The Race will be held again in 2012 with Galway and Belfast among the cities hoping to host a leg.


We will be welcoming our second group of participants from the Tyrone Donegal  program this coming Monday on their Youth & Community 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:


June 11-27
What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton
The Charity Randall Theatre

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

Friday, June 19

Singer, songwriter, musician Luka Bloom will be performing in concert at the South Park Amphitheater, corner of Brownsville & McCorkle Roads, 7:30PM, 412.835.4810.  Luka Bloom out of Dublin is brother to Christy Moore.

Sunday, June 28

Echoes of Erin 1:00PM on WEDO 810AM – The Ireland Report with

Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Managing Director of the Belfast Media Group

and CEO and Publisher of The Irish Echo in NY.   Guest in studio, Jim

Lamb, President of The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh and sponsor of The

Ireland Report for July.

Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming, Pittsburgh Summer Session at Shadyside Academy in Fox Chapel through July 3rd.  Information 412.323.2707


Friday, July 10

Mid-Summer’s Night Seisun with Guaranteed Irish, Blackridge Civic Association, 1200 Beulah Road, Churchill.  8:00PM-Midnight, $15 Adult, $5 Child, includes refreshments, BYOB.  Proceeds benefit Blackridge Swim Club.  Information: Mary Walsh 412.609.1344 or Maggie Sabol 412.860.7346.


Saturday, July 18


Shillelagh Bash at the Lawrenceville Moose, 51st & Butler Streets in

Lawrenceville.  Fundraiser for Miss Smiling Irish Eyes, Bridget Byrne on

her trip to Warrenpoint, County Down for ‘The Maiden of the Mournes

Festival’.  Entertainment, Door Prizes, Irish Auction plus more. 

Information: Pat Byrne 412-781-3759.


Friday, July 24 – Sunday, July 26

The Cleveland Cultural Festival at the Berea Fairgrounds featuring Makem & Spain Brothers, Tommy Fleming, Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Dennis Doyle, Cherish The Ladies, Irish Descendants, Fintan Stanley, Sean Wilson, Brendan Shine, Johnny McEvoy, Batt Burns, New Barleycorn, plus many, many more.   Phone: (216).251.1711 Toll Free U.S. Only: (800).485.8013.  E-mail:  Many hotels are within a couple of miles of the fairgrounds; Sheraton at the Airport is the Host Hotel. Admission $10.00, parking is FREE.

Pittsburgh Celtics GFC Schedule 2009

June 28 - @ Cleveland St. Pats
July 12 - Detroit St. Anne's (Founders Field, Indianola)
July 19 - @ Detroit St. Anne's
July 26 - Cleveland St. Pats (Founders Field, Indianola)
Sept 12 - Pittsburgh Irish Festival vs. Mason Dixon GAA (Sandcastle)

Pittsburgh Banshees LGFC Schedule 2009

June 21 - Cleveland St Jarlaths (Anderson Road, Shaler High School)
June 28 - @ Cleveland St. Pats
July 12 - Detroit Wolfe Tones (Founders Field, Indianola)
July 19 - @ Detroit Wolfe Tones
July 26 - Cleveland St. Pats (Founders Field, Indianola)
August 9 - @ Cleveland St. Jarlaths
August 23 - Midwest Final (TBD)
Sept 12 - Pittsburgh Irish Festival (Sandcastle)

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2009 Schedule

        Regatta Site 2009                     Regatta Date 

         Philadelphia, PA                          June 20
         Columbus, OH                            July 11 
         Pittsburgh, PA                             July 26 
         Milwaukee, WI                           August 15 
         Boston, MA                                TBA 
        Albany, NY                                August 29 
        Annapolis, MD                           September 19 

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     

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.  


Diane's show has now been extended from 12:30pm to 2:00pm.


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

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.