Read about how Scotland and Ireland are strengthening their links



The Common Ground

Vol. IV, Issue 11


      November 2006



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 


 This week I attended Bio-Ireland 2006, a bi-annual all-island conference focused on the latest research and commercial developments in life sciences, medicine, and biotechnology.

For the past eight years this bright science community has been successful working across the border, on common ground, for the common good. At this gathering, creed and cultural identity are checked at the door and the important business of improving the world is pursued in earnest.

Peter Hain, Northern Ireland's Secretary of State should take a page from this group's playbook.  While the stalemate over policing continues, Hain has caved on the deadline for nominations at Stormont, putting politics ahead of progress

The underlying message at Bio-Ireland was that innovation, progress, and prosperity are possible if we invest in talent.  The smartest men and woman, given the appropriate resources, will find cures, solve hunger problems, discover new energy sources, and develop other improvements to our quality of life

If political leaders cannot arrive at a sustainable agreement in Northern Ireland, it may be due to a lack of diplomatic talent.  Neither Unionists nor Nationalists will get everything they want in this agreement. If Hain cannot deliver that message firmly, perhaps a more talented broker is needed.


Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


This month, we continue our series about Pittsburgh's Irish Organizations featuring information about Irish Dancing. As many of you know, the IIP is holding a fundraiser on Saturday December 2nd featuring these the top dancing schools and groups from the city.


In our Letter from the Editor section, Jim comments on the how the  recent Bio-Ireland conference brought the countries top scientific talent together and alludes to addressing the problems of Northern Ireland's politics in similar ways.


There's also a look at how Ireland's Police force, An Garda Siochana, is changing.



irish DancE 

Pittsburgh has a long and proud tradition of American Irish Culture. Leading the way are the cities five main dance organizations, Bell School of Irish Dance, Burke School of Irish Dance, Pittsburgh Ceili Club, Pittsburgh Irish Reelers, and Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance, who are coming together next month to appear in the Ireland Institute's "Give Me Your Hand" concert. 

Irish dance can be divided into social dances and performance dances. Irish social dancing can be divided further into céilí (also spelt céilídh), and set dancing. These are usually danced by couples arranged into formations (sets). Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in the way a particular dance is danced are found across the Irish dance community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Irish performance dancing is traditionally referred to as stepdance. Irish stepdancing has been recently popularized by the world-famous show "Riverdance" and its followers. Aside from public dance performances, there are also stepdance competitions in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia and North America. Most competitive stepdances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using traditional set and céilí dances. When performed as a solo dance, it is generally characterized by a stiff upper body and quick and precise movements of the feet.

The dancing traditions of Ireland probably grew in tandem with traditions of Irish Traditional Music, which will be represented by Pittsburgh's own Hooley at the December event.

For more information on any of Pittsburgh's Dancing schools or Hooley, click on the links.


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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Ireland and Scotland have agreed to enhance and strengthen their co-operation in a range of areas, their two premiers said after meeting in Dublin. Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell (pictured) said they would improve and deepen their social, educational, economic and cultural relationship.

 "This will occur through increased collaboration in science education policy, deepening mutual engagement in the British-Irish Council and working in close co-operation to maximize the opportunity presented by the new European Union Territorial Co-operation Programme from the beginning of next year," the pair said in a statement. 

Both leaders said they also looked forward to working to improve co-operation with a restored Northern Ireland power-sharing executive if a deal can be reached to restore self-government in Belfast. 

There will also be greater collaboration in dealing with problems of drug abuse and the two countries will "celebrate and deepen" historical and cultural links. 

"We agreed that we would review progress in all areas of collaboration before the end of 2007 and agree a joint action plan to take forward specific proposals on matters of mutual benefit," Ahern said.


Companies in Northern Ireland would be exempt from corporation tax on the first 60% of profits under a private sector plan to be put to the UK government on November 15th in a bid to stimulate the province's economy. Under the proposal, after the zero-rated first 60% of profits, the remainder would incur tax at the prevailing UK rate of 30%. This would mean businesses based in the province would have a rate of 12%, in effect, just less than that in the Irish Republic.

Businesses in Northern Ireland currently pay 30%, the rate throughout the UK. But local businesses say a cut would stimulate foreign investment and allow them to compete with the Irish Republic, where the rate is 12.5%. In the past the UK government has been wary of allowing Northern Ireland to have a different rate, for fear it would trigger demands from other regions. Economists say such a regime would let UK-based multinationals move headquarters to Belfast and reduce the tax they pay.

Currently, European Union member states set their own tax rates. But economists say Northern Ireland's proposed corporation tax regime would probably be in breach of European Union rules on state aid, which restricts the amount countries can provide in subsidies to companies in particular regions.

As of now, Northern Ireland raises about £600m a year in corporate tax. If businesses were taxed at 12%, officials say, the tax take would fall to £250m. Nigel Smyth, economist with the CBI business lobby group, said: "We have to do something radical and it will be a benefit to the Treasury in the long term as tax take increases as more businesses set up.”










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A European Commission health survey published this week shows that Irish people are increasing in size at the third-fastest rate in the EU. The results show that between 2002 and the end of last year, Irish people became 1.6kg heavier and now average 73.2kg. They were only beaten in the extra weight stakes by the Luxembourgers and the Danes. At the other end of the scale, the French, Portuguese, and Italians appear to be watching their figures!


The Sunday Independent, one of Ireland's leading Sunday newspapers, has threatened to sue Britney Spears for recompense for costs of a "fraudulent" libel claim taken by Ms. Spears against the newspaper following publication of a story last June that her marriage was on the rocks. The pop star engaged a firm of Dublin solicitors, Johnsons, denying her marriage was in trouble and outlining proposals for compensation. Britney, who informed second husband Kevin Federline by text on Monday that she was filing for divorce, had been in contact with the paper through her solicitors as late as last week, according to the article, stating that they had been "grievously libelled" by the misleading story and would be issuing proceedings against them in several jurisdictions. Solicitors acting for the Sunday Independent, Simon McAleese and Co., have issued a statement demanding monetary recompense and an apology for the "fraud" they were seeking to perpetrate upon their client.


A recent survey has revealed that nearly half of the top 100 university 'feeder' schools in Ireland are either all-Irish Gaelscoileanna (all classes and subjects are taught through Irish) or fee-paying. Dublin's Gonzaga College run by the Jesuits tops the list with 95% of Leaving Cert (the Irish equivalent of the GED) students going on to university last year. Following closely in second place is a small all-Irish school, Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway which had a 92.8% rate of students going on to third-level. Two other Gaelscoileanna, Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Íosagain, both in, Co. Dublin, also featured in the top ten. The survey highlights the popularity of Irish speaking schools which have grown in popularity in the country in recent years.


Ireland gave witness to a new form of policing recently with the establishment of a reserve force. Recruitment for the new Garda Reserve force took place in late August and early September with the first recruits beginning training in October. The Minister for Justice said "it's an exciting and important development, and will be a valuable support for the Gardaí". Over 7,000 people had applied, according to the Minister, since August, with applications opened to nationals and non-nationals, a policy that has been adopted in the paid Garda Siochana itself.

Criteria for applying is broadly the same as for a full Garda position. Reserve members must be aged between 18 and 60, and they will have to pass a medical, and be vetted to exactly the same extent as candidates for the Gardaí.

Reserve members will get 120 hours of initial training. They won't be deployed in their own neighborhoods, and will work for at least 208 hours a year. Their duties include going on patrols and carrying out road traffic duties, alongside a full time Garda. They won't carry out plain clothes duties or carry any firearms, but will have the power of arrest. Reserve members will have limited access to the PULSE system (Garda computer system) and will, when in uniform, be subject to a similar code of discipline as permanent Gardaí.

The first reserve force graduates reported for duty this week.

Garda representative bodies opposed the new Reserve plan, vehemently, as they felt that full-time Gardaí were needed and not a non-paid police force. The government had previously agreed to increase the force by 2,000 from 12,000 to 14,000. The Association of Garda Sargeants & Inspectors (AGSI) have agreed to co-operate with the new reserve force as part of a new pay deal and the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents rank-and-file Gardaí is currently voting on the matter. 


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

This Summer & Fall, over forty young men and women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland arrived in Pittsburgh to participate in our Wider Horizons program.  Both groups from Tyrone & Donegal and Monaghan & Armagh received on-the-job training, personal development, exposure to American culture, and new insights into the problems at home through conflict resolution.  After their program they participants return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace. 


A key success in both these programs has been our Host Family program - the young people are placed with host families during their stay in Pittsburgh.  Those of you who are currently hosting or have hosted participants in the past have our thanks for opening your hearts and homes.  No doubt you may be called upon again, but we also ask you to recruit any interested friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Host Family help is vital in providing a positive and rewarding experience for the participants.


For more information on becoming a Host Family, please contact the Ireland Institute at 412-394-3900.  






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In the aftermath of a controversial series of games between Irish Gaelic Football stars and Australian Rules players in in the annual compromised rules games between the two country's, the President of the Irish Gaelic Games Organization (GAA) has revealed that the International Rules series could be over. There were several ugly punch-ups throughout the 2nd (and final) game and Ireland's Graham Geraghty (from Meath) was knocked unconscious and spent the night in hospital. 

The management committee, of the Irish team, accused the Australians of deliberately targeting Geraghty among other players and were incensed that the Australian referee did not send anyone off. Brennan said the GAA will consult with managers, players and various committees but that at the moment the series 'is hanging by a thread'. He added that the GAA apologized to all those who attended the games and witnessed what he described as 'a major embarrassment to the organization'. Brennan went on to condemn the violence, and claimed that it is possible that an Irish team will not travel to Australia next year.

International rules football (sometimes known as "inter rules", "IR" or, particularly in Ireland, "compromise rules") is a hybrid code of football which was developed to facilitate international representative matches between Australian rules footballers and Gaelic footballers.

The first games played were Test matches between Australia and a touring Meath Gaelic Football team which took place in late 1967, after Meath had won that year's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Following intermittent international tests between Australia and an all-Ireland team, the International Rules Series has been played annually since 1998 and has generally been a closely matched contest with the early series generally going to the visiting team, and later titles almost always going to the host team.

International Rules Football is one of few team sports or football codes in the world without any clubs or leagues. It is currently played by both men's and women's teams only in tournaments or once-off test matches.

















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Our Mission:


LAOH/AOH Division 23 will sponsor their Fall Dance at the Lawrenceville Moose, 120 51st Street.  There will be an Irish Auction and 50/50 Raffle.  Donation $10 per person includes refreshments, BYOB & snacks.  Music with DJ, 7:30pm. Saturday 18th November 

AOH/LAOH Division’s 4 will host a Communion Breakfast at Old St. Patrick’s Church in The Strip.  Mass at 9:00 am.  Breakfast at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle.  Proceeds will go toward restoration of the Grotto at St. Patrick’s.  Information Patrick O’Brien 412.939.0408. Sunday 19th November 

Concert ‘Food for the Spirit’,  A Celebration of the Season of St. Andrew at the first Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, 320 Sixth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh.  Features Scottish performances on bagpipes, organ, vocals, and interpretive dance with Alasdair Gillies, Andrew Scanlon, Scottish Bob Murdoch, George Balderose, Richard Hughes, Dancer Lynn Coghill and Emcee Arthur McAra.  Donation $15.  Please bring non-perishable food items for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Band.  Information 412.471.3436. Friday 24th November 

The Pittsburgh Gaelic Football Club's (Celtics, Banshees & Junior Celtics) will hold a Dinner Dance at the Sokol Club on Carson Street on the South Side.  Cocktails and the like will begin at 6:00 pm, Dinner will be served at 7:15.  Music to follow dinner performed by Guaranteed Irish.  A short program of presentations in between dinner and music. Saturday 25th November

The Renaissance Artisan Market at The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, 6887 Forward Ave., Squirrel Hill, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.  Holiday themed show with Renaissance Stage Performers, Shopping with many Vendors, Story Telling with Alan Irvine.  Admission $3.00.  Renaissance Garb welcomed.                 Saturday & Sunday 25th & 26th November 

The Irish American Unity Conference will be having their annual Christmas Party at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle  24th Street & Penn Avenue in the Strip District.  All are welcome to attend.  Complimentary buffet and cash bar starts at 7PM.  2007 Irish calendars and books will be for sale.  Chances for the annual raffle of Irish baskets of culture and cheer are now available. For more information please contact Sarah McAuliffe at 412-782 - 2715. Wednesday 13th December 

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now in its 17th year, every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on WEDO, 810 AM.  Diane Byrnes has Irish music, news, and other great information


Paddy's Pour House located on Main Street in Carnegie, PA hosts live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night starting at 9:00 p.m.  Tuesday nights join Dennis Murphy with "Get Educated and Entertained as only 'Murph' can" from 8:00-12:00.  For more information, visit their website or call (412) 279-0770.


Catch the Thistle and Shamrock every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. on WYEP 91.3FM for Celtic music performances and discussions.


We're always looking for events to include: If you'd like to include your next event in this newsletter, please send event information including date, time, location, admission cost, and contact information to


‘Give Me Your Hand’ an Evening of Irish Dance featuring for the First Time in Pittsburgh History A Performance by The Dancers of Bell School, Burke School, Ceili Club, Irish Reelers and Shovlin Academy Together in One Show. Presented by The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh at the Catherine Thomas Theater at Benedict Hall, The Benedictine Sisters, 4530 Perrysville Ave. Tickets available online at or 412-394-3900.                                                                                Saturday 2nd December

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.