The Common Ground

Vol. VIII, Issue 3


March 2010



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The Catholic Church in Ireland suffered another blow to its credibility this week when Cardinal Brady, head of the Church in Ireland advised the faithful of his mistakes overseeing a diocese years earlier in which a priest committed unspeakable acts with children. It is yet another in a long line of revelations about the moral corruption of men and women who have not the capacity to serve God and the Church, regardless of the solemn vows they have taken. 

The Cardinal also offered a convincing apology. It reminded me that no human being is perfect. Even our Pope Benedict appears to have made some mistakes during his administration of a German diocese years ago when priests there horrified and exploited children, according to recent reports. 

No matter how hard we try to emulate Christ, to serve the needy, to sacrifice, to forgive those who trespass against us, to maintain a state of grace, sooner or later we will fall. And all we can do is ask God and others wholeheartedly for forgiveness.

So as nations built on the rule of laws, what do we do with these priests who clearly have broken them? With evidence of wrongdoing, the answer is black and white. Men (and women) found to have exploited children or abused them in anyway are answerable to the criminal courts of those jurisdictions in which the crimes occurred. They must be arrested, tried, and if guilty, sentenced. As humans we see them as criminals. But as members of the Church, hoping to emulate Christ, we have an obligation to engage sinners in the same way that Christ engages us. The challenge is to separate the despicable behavior from the fellow human being. And in cases involving pedophilia, that challenge can seem impossible. Yes! Someone committed an horrific sin and justice must be served. But what drove the wretch to this? Can he be saved? Can we find compassion for someone so disturbed to behave this way? Can we encourage him back to the light, to the way of God? We can offer hope through faith and charity. If we believe that God is in us, then there is hope for these fallen. 

What about those who have been accused of sheltering priests from the law? These judgments are not as straightforward. And every case is different. How much did a particular bishop know about the behavior of one or more of his priests? What orders were bishops given from Rome when allegations came to light? What human qualities dominated a bishop’s response or lack thereof? Remember, bishops are human, too. They make mistakes. They forget. They also set policies that are not always followed. Once a crime has been committed then a prosecution is justified. But when the justice of man has been served, Christians reach out to engage not only the victim, but the guilty as well. That’s what Christ did.

For human beings the idea of engaging with a pedophile is enough to make the skin crawl. But for a Christian, it is an obligation. The behavior is unacceptable. But through faith and hope the person—the soul—is salvageable. 

As humans, relying on thoughts and feelings, the news of a misbehaving star quarterback or a temperamental young city leader or an intoxicated Hollywood starlet evokes anger or disgust or even worse, apathy. Political opponents make personal attacks and encourage misinformation among constituents. And as humans many of us just get tired of the same old smears that have been going on for years. But as Christians we need to reach out to these leaders and potential role models and bring them back to that better way. Scold all you want. But do it like a parent who wants his kid to learn to make better choices.

Taking a lesson from the Gospel, if we stone everyone whoever committed a sin, there won’t be anyone left. But if we grant them due process, guilty or not, we must help them heal. So let’s bring these humans who run the Catholic Church to justice, recognize that some of them did horrible things. Punish them. And then let’s help them return to the grace that God gives all of us, if we just ask for it.

Jim Lamb






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                                                IIP NEWS

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's Northern Ireland - Pittsburgh Sustainable Leadership Program is about to launch! Over the last few months we have been in contact with various employers in the Pittsburgh area. The program centers around the Green/Renewable energy sector and will see 12 graduates from Northern Ireland spend a year in our region. We still have a number of placements to fill - 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!







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Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley will not seek re-election in the forthcoming general election.


The 83-year-old founder and ex-leader of the Democratic Unionist Party is to relinquish the North Antrim seat he first won in 1970.


His decision could open the way for his son, Ian Paisley Jr., to stand as the DUP's candidate in the constituency. The contest is expected to be a tight one, with the leader of the hard-line Traditional Unionist Voice party, Jim Allister, having already announced his intention to run in North Antrim.


Mr. Paisley announced his decision to stand down in his local constituency paper, The Ballymena GuardianThe DUP will officially select its Westminster candidate for the North Antrim seat next week.


Famed for his firebrand oratory, Mr. Paisley was a founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church in Ireland in 1951. His evangelical theology heavily influenced his political views and throughout the Troubles he forthrightly denounced Catholicism and the papacy.  During the conflict he was a fierce critic of power-sharing with nationalists and of the Republic of Ireland having a say in Northern Ireland's affairs.


But in his later political life, the one-time cheerleader for hard-line unionism underwent somewhat of a political conversion, which finally saw him enter office with his long-time enemy, Sinn Féin.

Mr Paisley stood down as First Minister in 2008 and was replaced by his long-time DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson.



The families of some of the  victims of a 1998 Real IRA bombing in Omagh have said the dismissal by the Special Criminal Court of the case against Colm Murphy was another blow.


The Court dismissed the case against Mr. Murphy, who was charged in connection with the 1998 bombing that killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.


Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the explosion, spoke of his frustration and despair at the outcome.  For the first time in years he said he felt angry. He expressed his frustration at what he felt was the failure of the criminal justice system on both sides of the border.


Mr. Murphy had pleaded not guilty to conspiring in Dundalk between 13 and 16 August 1998 with another person to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the State or elsewhere. He was jailed for 14 years by the Special Criminal Court in January 2002.  He was the first person to be convicted in the Republic or Northern Ireland in connection with the bombing.


However, in January 2005 the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the conviction. Last week, the Special Criminal Court granted an application by Mr. Murphy's lawyers for a direction that the prosecution had not established a case. The court ruled that, since notes of Mr. Murphy's interview with Detective Garda Liam Donnelly and Detective Garda John Fahy were falsified, since there was no explanation in relation to that falsification, and since that was part of a series of interviews being conducted by three teams of gardaí, none of the interviews are valid. It ruled that the accused must be given the benefit of the doubt in this regard.  All evidence in relation to the interviews was inadmissible, and, therefore, there was no evidence before the court upon which a jury could convict Mr. Murphy.


Afterwards, Mr. Murphy said he was glad to see it was all over. He also said 'find out who's behind it', when asked for a comment on the fact that no one is now convicted of the Omagh bombing. Asked if he had any comment on the garda treatment of him, he said 'you heard the court'.


Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the outcome was a huge disappointment to the families of the victims of the atrocity who have campaigned so long for justice on behalf of their loved ones. The situation now is that nobody stands convicted of the largest single terrorist attack in Northern Ireland,' said Mr Kenny. 'While getting a successful prosecution at this stage will be very difficult, I would urge the security services on both sides of the border to continue to co-operate on this case. 'There are clearly people who have information that can lead to the prosecution of those responsible and I appeal to them to recognize the huge pain that is"


The only man to have been charged with their murders, Sean Hoey from south Armagh, was acquitted in Belfast over two years ago. 


Michael Gallagher and some of the other relatives later won a civil action in Northern Ireland against four men, including Colm Murphy, whom they claimed were behind the atrocity. 

The families were awarded damages of £1.6m, and that judgment is now subject to appeal.


The PSNI say the book is still open on the bomb investigation.  But 18 months ago the chief constable said it was highly unlikely there would be a successful criminal prosecution, unless there was a substantial new lead or a new witness stepped forward.


Northern Ireland's political leaders have agreed on a new blueprint for fighting sectarianism, which includes plans for overseeing controversial parades.


The development is part of the implementation of the recently brokered Hillsborough deal, which focuses on policing and justice powers and parades and aims to stabilize the power-sharing administration.


The efforts to put the deal in place came despite a dissident republican bomb attack in Newry, Co Down, with the aim of derailing the political process.


First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced that they have agreed to a long-awaited program for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI).


The plan to help combat sectarianism in Northern Ireland society comes after the Alliance Party signaled it wanted the CSI policy completed before it considered supporting the Hillsborough agreement's plan to devolve policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.


The Alliance party leader David Forde said his party had been seeking clear and definitive progress between the DUP and Sinn Féin around the blockage on the new community relations strategy, remarking 'making progress on building a united community is vital for the future of Northern Ireland and is Alliance's number one priority.


'The creation of a shared future is also central to the smooth delivery of policing and justice.


'We now have a document agreed by both DUP and Sinn Féin which should shortly go out for public consultation. This is a positive step forward for everyone in Northern Ireland,' he said.


Mr. Ford added that Alliance looked forward to examining this document in detail and would be making suggestions during the consultation process and when it comes to Committee.

'A document is only a start. What matters is delivery and Alliance will be holding the First and Deputy First Ministers, and in fact the entire Executive, to account on how well they deliver,' he said.



In a statement to local media, the Real IRA has claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of a man whose body was found dumped on a country road in Derry. 


Kieran Doherty, aged 31 and the father of a two-year-old girl, was stripped, tied up and shot in a remote lane outside Derry.


The detective investigating the killing said the murdered man, who was shot in the head, was soon to get married to his long-term partner.


Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who lives in Derry and revealed he knew the murdered man's family, blamed the dissident republican Real IRA for the killing. 'I am outraged and disgusted at the murder of Kieran Doherty,' said the senior Sinn Féin representative. There is a widespread belief in Derry city that he was killed by the self-proclaimed Real IRA and I am calling on the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (aligned to the group) to give us an explanation why another young Derry man has been murdered.' He added: 'I think those people who were responsible for last night's dirty deed need to come forward and give an explanation to the citizens as to why they are continuing with these stupid and futile acts.'


Speaking at a press briefing in Derry this afternoon, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison appealed for anyone with any information regarding the murder to come forward.


Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said Mr. Doherty had met a savage and brutal death that was unjustified and unwarranted for any reason. He said the PSNI had an open mind about the motives and that they would be liaising with gardaí as part of their inquiries.


A major forensic examination of the scene was being carried out today.


It is believed Mr. Doherty left the family home at around 8pm on the night of the murder to go to a local shop, but there was no further contact until his body was discovered some two-and-a-half hours later at Braehead Road.


Asked about speculation that dissident republicans may have been involved, or the possibility that the killing may have been drugs-related, Chief Inspector Harrison said he was not prepared to comment and said he had an open mind about who was responsible.


Northern Ireland's political leaders have said incidents like last night's will not be allowed to destabilize the peace process.


First Minister Peter Robinson said: 'I am sickened and disgusted at this murder, there is no place in our society for the people who committed this evil act.


'I remain determined as ever to condemn these acts to the history books and to help build a safe and peaceful society.'








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Dublin city commuters and students are increasingly using bicycles with a 74% increase over the past four years according to the latest traffic figures.


The Canal Cordon Count conducted by Dublin City Council found nearly 7,000 people using pedal cycles in 2009 between 7am and 10am.


The numbers of private cars are down by 1% in the past five years while taxi numbers increased by over 100%.


The numbers of pedestrians are also slightly down over the five year period but showed a big decrease of 18% in the last year between 2008 and 2009.


Dublin Bus vehicles were up 9% over the five year period but down 5% in the last year.


Private buses increased by 32% over the five year period with no increase in the last year.

The report found that cars and taxis taken together had increased in numbers by 3.4% on bus routes in the five year period.


Dublin man Richie Baneham has won an Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards for best visual effects on Avatar.


Other Irish hopefuls, Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty, The Secret of Kells and The Door, lost out in their categories at the ceremony in Los Angeles.


Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board Simon Perry said: 'The Academy has already acknowledged the exceptional talent of Irish filmmakers with five Irish nominations but for Richard to win an Oscar is international recognition at the highest level. We are delighted for Richard and his team.'



The Irish Government plans to introduce a new pension scheme in four years' time, as part of a major restructuring of pension provision. Under the New National Pensions Framework, the qualification age for the State Pension will rise from 65 to 66 in 2014, 67 in 2021, and 68 in 2028.  However, workers will be permitted to postpone collecting that pension, to make up contribution shortfalls.


There will also be stronger regulation and more transparency on pension fund management charges.  The Government is introducing the reforms to address problems regarding population changes, income adequacy in retirement and to ensure the sustainability of the Government finances.


It is estimated that while there are almost six workers to support each pensioner today, by the middle of the century that ratio will have fallen to less than two workers per pensioner - creating an unsustainable burden on the working population.  In addition, State expenditure on pensions will increase from 5.5% of GDP to 15.5% by 2050.


The Taoiseach said the reforms would be phased in to improve pension provision while protecting competitiveness.  He said the Framework sets out how to protect pensioners in the future, as well as encouraging people to provide for their retirement in a fair, transparent and sustainable way.


Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the reforms aimed to achieve a balance between the individual's own responsibility to provide for their retirement and the Government's desire to ensure that older people are protected.  He noted that good pensions were costly, whether provided through the State system through taxes and social insurance, or individually through private provision.


Minister for Social & Family Affairs Mary Hanafin acknowledged that previous efforts to encourage people to invest in personal pensions had not been as successful as expected - especially among low to middle income earners.


An implementation group is being established to spearhead putting the reforms into operation.  It is forecast that this work will take up to five years to complete.






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European Athletics had announced that Ireland's David Gillick has been voted as the European Athlete of the Month for February.

Gillick, a two-time European indoor 400m champion, started the indoor season in brilliant fashion by equaling his own two-year-old national 400m record of 45.52 at the UK Grand Prix in Birmingham. The 26-year-old remains the fastest European over the distance this season.


It now looks unlikely that Ireland can win the prestigious Grand Slam tournament (featured in last months Common Ground). France are top of the standings and play England this weekend. Ireland take on Scotland. Even with an Irish win and the French (unexpectedly) losing - points scored would become a deciding factor. The current difference between the sides is +50 in favor of France. However, a win against Scotland would see the Irish win the Triple Crown (a competition within the competition) that is awarded to either England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland, if they can beat the other three teams.



The All-Ireland club competition finals were held at Croke Park on St. Patrick's Day. In hurling, Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) claimed a record-breaking fifth All-Ireland title by beating last year's champions Portumna (Co. Galway) in a fast-paced encounter.

Final score: Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-19 Portumna 0-17.


Meanwhile, St. Galls (Falls Rd, Belfast, Co. Antrim) banished memories of their 2006 All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship final defeat as they took this year's title with a classy display against first-time finalists Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Co. Clare). Final score: St Galls 0-13 Kilmurry Ibrickane 1-05.


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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Friday, March 19

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, 412-642-6622 features Happy Hour, 5:30 PM with City Dwelling Nature Seekers, at 9:00 PM it’s Corned Beef & Curry.


Paddy’s Pour House, 215 East Main Street, Carnegie, 412-279-0770 features Ballad Singer Sean McClorey at 9:00 PM.


Celtic Woman performing at Mellon Arena, 8:00 PM, sponsored by PBS-WQED-TV.


Saturday, March 20

Boys of the Lough in Concert at the Jackson home. Advance purchase ONLY for tickets, 1.800.961.9601. Limited seating.


Friday, March 26

Andy M. Stewart and Tommy Sands in Concert at the Jackson home. Tickets & Information 1.800.961.9601.


Saturday, April 3

Tartan Day, at the Pittsburgh Obama Academy (formerly Reizenstein School / Schenley High School in East Liberty). 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; Clans, Workshops, Traditional Highland Music and Dance, History, Traditional Scottish Cuisine! Free Parking.


Saturday, April 10

John Walters Solo CD Release Party entitled “Résume” at The Pump House at The Waterfront, 7:00PM to 10:00PM.


Sunday, April 11

AOH 32 / LAOH 32 Mass/Communion Breakfast, at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory - 10:30AM. Information Denny Maher, President, or Denny Donnelly 412.418-9998.


Saturday, April 17

Pittsburgh Ceili Club will sponsor their monthly Ceili at the VFW in Morningside, 7:00 PM Workshop, Ceili at 8:00 PM.


Saturday, April 24

AOH Msgr. Charles Owen Rice Division 1 in the South Hills is sponsoring “A Night of Irish Music” at the Castle Shannon Fire Hall, 3600 Library Road. Entertainment 7PM with Mike Gallagher, 8PM with Bell School of Irish Dance, 9PM with Corned Beef & Curry; Raffles, Auction, & Fun. Donation includes refreshments & snacks, BYOB. Information Rich O’Malley 412.401.3945.


Sunday, April 25

Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents ‘Celts on the Isle of Manx’ presented by Rob Willis and Jack Webber. New Venue – Dithridge House, 220 Dithridge St, 2:30PM. Information Earl McCabe 412.761.1844 or Jack Webber by Email: 412.885.5540.

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 

become a regular at these local programs!

 The Echoes of Erin is marking its 21st 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



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Aran from Johnstown PA -      George Balderose  -

Carnival of Souls -

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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.

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