Read about Paisley's plans to resign!


The Common Ground

Vol. VI, Issue 3


      March 2008





In 2008, the Common Ground will feature you! Your stories, past and present, will be our feature column this year. Tell us how your family came to the United States from Ireland, how you celebrate your Irish heritage, or how you enjoy Irish history and culture. Send your photos and stories to during the first week of each month.







letter from the editor 



The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh welcomed a new group of young adults to Pittsburgh this past Wednesday night.  Seventeen young men and women from County Armagh (Northern Ireland) and County Monaghan (Republic of Ireland) will spend the next 8 weeks in Pittsburgh, marking our 58th International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons Program.  I was encouraged at the enthusiasm of this group as they begin their program here.


One of the young men with whom I spoke mentioned the extraordinary security measures in place in the US airports - long security lines, the presence of heavily armed personnel, etc.  He went on to say that airports in Ireland, North and South, have little visible security.  I couldn't help but recall a time, not too long ago, when airports in Belfast, London, Dublin, and even Shannon displayed visible, sometimes intrusive security measures in the hunt for terrorists and other criminals.  Before 9-11, we breezed through US airports with little regard for security.


How times have changed.


This new generation of young people from Northern Ireland and the Border Counties have vague memories, if any, of heavily guarded border crossings, check points, military operations and the restrictions these activities brought to their communities a few years ago.  Ireland has emerged from the conflict with a confident generation of young people ready to take on the world.  It is a refreshing reminder of what America was after World War II: a people recovering from war and depression, investing in education at home and peace building around the world.  The Irish send not only money, but people—volunteers committed to helping the poor—to other countries to build homes and restore communities.


Nations around the world see Ireland as the beacon of peace and prosperity.  I remember when the United States had that role, and I suppose we are still a leader in foreign assistance.  Unfortunately, we have isolated ourselves as a result of the war on terror, widespread anti-immigration sentiment, an economic crisis, and lost confidence in our leadership.  In spite of a weak dollar, people are not coming to the US the way they used to.  Visas, security, and other hassles are keeping tourists, students, business people, and others away.  Billions of dollars to local US economies are lost as a result of their absence.


Iraq, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Colombia, South Africa, and many other countries, depressed and in conflict, have looked to Ireland, not to solve their problems, but to understand how Ireland solved its own.  There is much to be learned about Ireland's emergence from conflict.  Perhaps the United States could learn from Ireland as well.


Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh







APRIL 4-12, 2008

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the British American Business Council and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, will lead a special delegation to Ireland. The delegation leaves Pittsburgh Friday, April 4 and returns Saturday, April 12.  

The Republic of Ireland has much to offer Pittsburgh businesses interested in expanding globally.  Economic performance there is consistently strong. Ireland hosts many European headquarters of the world's largest companies, some of the largest manufacturing and distribution businesses, more than half the top 20 insurance companies and more than half the world's largest banks. 

Northern Ireland’s economy, like Pittsburgh’s, has transformed in recent decades, moving from manufacturing to a service-led, outward looking knowledge economy.  Over 700 foreign investors now operate in Northern Ireland, employing 70,000 people. Recent investors include Microsoft, Caterpillar, Seagate Technology and HBOS.

North and South, Ireland now promotes an all-island economy, determined to facilitate business and research partnerships with Pittsburgh and the world.


This visit will have special meaning as this year is the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, which brought sustained peace and hope for a shared future in Northern Ireland.


For further details log onto our website or call Jim Lamb on (412) 394-3900.


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

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

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

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Northern Ireland's first minister Ian Paisley is to stand down from the post in May, he has announced.  He will also resign as leader of the DUP, which he has led for almost 40 years. He will continue as MP and MLA for North Antrim.  Mr. Paisley, who will be 82 in April, became first minister in May 2007 following the suspension of direct rule after a period of five years.

Mr. Paisley stood down as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church in January amid concerns about his dual role as the church's leader and first minister.  "I came to this decision a few weeks ago when I was thinking very much about the forthcoming investment conference and what was going to come after the conference," he said.  "I thought that it is a marker, a very big marker and it would be a very appropriate time for me to bow out."

While it is expected that his current deputy Peter Robinson will succeed him as party leader, Mr. Paisley said it was up to the DUP to make the decision.  "This is not Apostolic succession and I have no right to say who will succeed me," he said.  "The person will succeed me when the mark is on the paper and the ballot is cast."


Mr. Paisley's announcement followed speculation that senior party members were unhappy about the appointment of his son, Ian Paisley Jr., to the Policing Board.  Last month, Mr. Paisley Jr. resigned as a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.  His resignation followed criticism over his links to developer Seymour Sweeney and controversy over lobbying activity.  Mr. Paisley said the recent controversy had nothing to do with his decision to step aside.


Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his ministerial colleague's move was not unexpected.  "The historic decision he took to go into government with Sinn Fein has changed the face of Irish politics forever," he said.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Mr. Paisley had made a huge contribution to political life in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

"The whole country values and admires the manner in which he has led as first minister," he said.


Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said he did not believe Mr. Paisley's decision would affect the future of the power-sharing government.  "I honestly believe that (devolution) will last because I believe there are very pragmatic people in all of the parties," he said.


Researchers in Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with researchers in the UK and the Netherlands, have found seven gene regions linked to celiac disease. 

Celiac disease is a condition in which the intestine has an abnormal immune reaction to the wheat protein gluten.  Sufferers of the disease have to avoid all food containing wheat, barley and rye flour.  Europe, and in particular Ireland, has an extremely high incidence of the disease with up to one in every 100 people susceptible to developing the condition.

The research, published in the leading science journal Nature Genetics, found that four of these gene regions are also implicated in a predisposition to Type 1 Diabetes, the type that occurs from birth, indicating that these discoveries may have broad implications for a range of inflammatory or autoimmune diseases.


The Irish Red Cross and the Saudi Red Crescent Society have agreed to a disaster response partnership.  During a visit to Ireland, the chairman of the Saudi Red Cresent, Prince Faisal, met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the chairman of the Irish Red Cross, former foreign minister David Andrews.

The two charities said the visit had resulted in successful mutual understandings and they had agreed to establish coordination and preparedness in disaster response situations.  The Saudi group will also utilize the Irish Red Cross first aid programs to educate the public through a dedicated website.

The prince's visit followed an invitation from Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, during his visit to Saudi Arabia last year as part of a trade mission led by Bertie Ahern.  Minister Martin said the visit represented another bridge in building Irish trade relations with Saudi Arabia and a range of Middle Eastern countries.


In yet another first for Stormont, Agriculture Minister Gildernew announced that she is pregnant with her third child - making her the first minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly to give birth while in office.

The new arrival will be joining six-year-old Emmett and Eunan, 3.  “I didn't know whether I'd be able to cope with the demands of the job and the demands of a baby but it's my last chance. I'm 38 at the end of the month and I didn't want to wait any longer,” she said, but insisted that it will be business as usual, stressing that she has already had six years' experience juggling the job of an MP with motherhood.  “Babies are fairly mobile. As long as you are able to find solutions to challenges, I don't see that it'll create any kind of difficulty. I've been an MP since I've had both my children so it's always been busy,” she said.

The Assembly has yet to provide childcare for staff and elected representatives, although diaper changing and breast feeding facilities are now available.

However, Ms Gildernew recognizes that it can be difficult for mothers in rural areas to find childcare, freeing them to go to work or take part in education.  The minister is hoping to set aside £10m to deal with poverty among young rural people. “There could be a big economic knock-on effect, alleviating child poverty, if parents were able to get back to work and bring in money. I would like to think I will be able to take the recommendations to the Executive soon for a cross-cutting way of dealing with these issues,” she said.










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The Central Applications Office received 63,868 applications from college hopefuls by the February 1 deadline, a 3% increase from the 62,000 applications at the same stage last year.  However, with thousands more students applying early this year, it is expected that the increase might be balanced out by fewer late applications than in 2007.

The arts and social science sector remains the most popular for honors bachelor degree courses. For ordinary bachelor degrees and higher certificates, administration and business courses are the most popular again this year.  The number of applicants for the construction industry has dropped, possibly in response to the downturn in the building sector, but numbers are up for dentistry, agriculture, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, primary education, and science.


Designers and artists will shortly be asked to submit proposals for what is being hailed as Ireland's answer to the Angel of the North in England.  Located beside the Dublin-Belfast road on the border of Co Louth, the statue may become a major tourist attraction in the future.  The Government is allocating €5m for its construction.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and local TD, Dermot Ahern, said the Government wanted the monument to act as a symbol of hope and promise for current and future generations.  Speaking at the proposed site beside a former customs station at Carrickcarnan, the Minister said this was an appropriate moment to mark the dramatic strides that have been made in building peace on the island of Ireland.  Many people from a wide range of backgrounds have contributed to the ending of conflict and the realization of peace, and it is fitting to honor and recognize that collective achievement through public art in an appropriate setting, he said.


Work has begun on a new underground DART tunnel that Iarnród Éireann says will quadruple the number of passengers on its Dublin network.  Though the Interconnector will not be completed for approximately seven years, construction has begun near Pearse St. 

The company says this underground DART project is the most important in the State in terms of encouraging a switch to public transport.  A company spokesman said the line would quadruple Dublin rail passenger journeys to 100m a year, because the line will increase capacity and frequency by linking all the rail services on DART, LUAS, Commuter, Intercity and Metro.

Iarnród Éireann is applying for a railway order next year, the equivalent of planning permission, and hopes to start tunnel boring by 2011.  The first passengers are expected in 2015.


Women were more than twice as successful as men in the Irish labor market over the past year, accounting for almost 70% of the growth in employment.  According to the latest Quarterly National Household Survey from the CSO, there were a total of 66,800 new jobs created in the 12 months to last November.

However, more than half of these new jobs were part time, and 60% of them result from a surge in self-employment.  The number of men with employee positions fell by almost 10,000.







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Captain Cee Bee will bid for a second Festival success this season as trainer Edward Harty prepares his stable star for a trip to Aintree next week.  The JP McManus-owned gelding came with a strong run to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the month and is reported to have taken those exertions in his stride.

“Captain Cee Bee came out if it very well and he didn't like the ground that day, it has to be said,” explained Harty.  “It was only really when they met the rising ground on the run to the last that he actually started to enjoy himself. He battled well up the hill, which is where he was getting his ground, so it was pleasing to see that.  I always knew he was good but I've looked back on the previous 20 runnings and seen that no horse had gone there and won with such a gap before runs - it's a good job I didn't look beforehand!  I would think he'll get his ground at Aintree. They're giving it as good at the moment and I know from my youth that it's a quick-drying track.”

Captain Cee Bee has the John Smith's Top Novices' Hurdle as his objective next Friday, although jockey bookings are not yet finalized. Robert Thornton came in for the ride at a late stage at Cheltenham as Tony McCoy elected to partner the Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular, who is also owned by McManus.


WIDER HORIZONS 2008 - Host FaMily Program

The new year has arrived, and with it some news about Ireland Institute programming. We have received some exciting news from Northern Ireland that we can look forward to as many as three Wider Horizons Programs this year.

The goal of our program is to provide young people from the North of Ireland and border counties of the Republic with employment and personal development skills. Participants stay with Host Families while in Pittsburgh. Host Families provide the Institute’s Irish and British participants with an opportunity to learn about American family life. The participants welcome the opportunity to interact with families and children and become familiar with American customs and culture. Participating families have the unforgettable experience of learning first-hand about the new Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Hosts provide accommodation for participants, meals as per the family schedule and a nurturing environment for the young people, who are generally aged between 18-26. For their efforts families receive a weekly stipend for each participant they host.

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 4394-3900.

















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Our Mission:


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre ‘King Lear’ Apr. 9-26. 'An Ideal Husband' May 8-31. 'Salome' June 12-28. 'The Playboy of the Western World' July 17-Aug 16. Performances at the Charity Randal Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial.  Info; PICT 412.561.6000. Tickets  or 412.394.3353.

Saturday, April 5th

Tartan Day at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, Fox Chapel Road, 11:00AM to 4:00 PM. Piper Bands, Scottish Dancers, Culture Workshops, Celtic Vendors, Scottish Menu. Free Admission.

Sunday, April 20th

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents Frederick Lapisardi speaking on William Butler Yeats at Synod Hall on North Craig St. in Oakland . Tommy Costello, Drama Student at Pitt will make a presentation, 2:30 PM.

Saturday, April 26th

AOH Division 1, South Hills presents “A Night of Irish Music” with Corned Beef & Curry and Mike Gallagher & Step Dancers at Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Hall, 7:00 PM. Tickets: Tom Long, 412.561.4181 or Rich O’Malley, 412.401.3945.

Sunday, April 27th

The High Kings with Finbar Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey, & Darren Holden in Concert at Heinz Hall, 8:00 PM. WQED / PBS sponsors.

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now in its 20th year, every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes has Irish music, news, and other great information.  Congratulations on a great 20 years, 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 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.


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