Read about the UDA's announcement to stand down the Ulster Freedom Fighters.


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 11


      November 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 



I spent two days last week at the first US Ireland Forum   This was a gathering of influential Irish and Irish American leaders in business, philanthropy, community service, and academia, sponsored by Irish America Magazine, the American Ireland Fund, and University College Dublin.


The purpose of this gathering was to explore and chart the direction of the relationship between Ireland and the US, and the role of Irish America in fostering that relationship currently and into the future.  The discussions and presentations at the Forum were enlightening and inspiring.  They are helping to shape the future activity of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh. 


We have established that while peace has come to Northern Ireland, reconciliation is just beginning.  Of course, the Institute continues to offer programs to facilitate reconciliation among Catholics and Protestants, as we have for the past 18 years.  Parallel to that we will continue to facilitate trade and partnership between companies and other organizations.  This issue of “Common Ground” mentions an upcoming trade delegation to Ireland.


But beyond these traditional functions of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, there is a huge opportunity to engage the Pittsburgh Irish diaspora, the generations of Western Pennsylvanians claiming heritage from, or affinity to the island of Ireland, be they Irish or Ulster Scots.  One of the fears discussed at the US Ireland Forum was that the rich shared history and culture of Ireland and America could be lost on future generations if Irish America stops caring.  We are blessed here in Pittsburgh to have so many organizations carrying on the traditions of Ireland, the dance, the language, the music, sports, and history.  That needs to continue with support from readers of the Common Ground and others.


Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the economic prosperity that washed over Ireland recently brought a better standard of living to the island, but many fear it created a generation that does not know or understand hardship.  I’ve seen it first hand.  Young people, supposedly disadvantaged, come on our programs with substantial financial resources, gifts from mom and dad, to ensure their pleasure while away from home.  This too presents an opportunity to engage young people to find purpose in their lives.


Over the next few years the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will seek to engage Ireland and Pittsburgh in strategies to enhance historic links, to empower each other to solve common problems, to share models of success with other nations in conflict, and to ensure a legacy for Pittsburgh’s Irish community.  

Stay tuned!

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh


April 4-12, 2008

kick off breakfast

November 30, 2007

7:30 AM- 9:00 AM

HYP Club

619 William Penn Place

Downtown Pittsburgh




The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, the British American Business Council Pittsburgh Region, and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance will undertake a business development mission to Ireland from April 4 through April 12, 2008. Ireland’s transformation has created a dynamic link between the US and the EU generating interest around the globe for trade and investment.


A kick-off breakfast will be held in the HYP Club on Friday, November 30, 2007, detailing the benefits of participating in the delegation.  Presentations will include Ireland's Economy, Business Opportunities North and South, and local support for business ventures.  Attendees will have the opportunity to network with other potential participants.


To RSVP or for more information about the delegation, contact Pat Fustich at 412-392-4555 ext.4514 or




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

To subscribe/unsubscribe or comment on this newsletter please send an email to:











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The UDA announced that units of its military wing, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, would be stood down at midnight on November 11.  Though it is unclear how the UDA will engage with the decommissioning body chaired by General John De Chastelain, the organization said it intends to put all weapons beyond use.  UDA brigadier Jackie McDonald said that the guns would not yet be given up because they are the “people’s guns,” and the people are not yet ready to trust.

At a Remembrance Day ceremony in Belfast's loyalist Sandy Row, the UDA said it believed the war was over and said it is going to concentrate on developing communities through peaceful means.  It said it was making the momentous move because the struggle to maintain the Union was on a new and more complex battlefield.  The UDA sent out a general order to all members not to be involved in crime or criminality, and it said those who had joined its ranks for such purposes had to be rooted out.

The statement said: 'The Ulster Defence Association is committed to achieving a society where violence and weaponry are ghosts of the past.' 

Politicians hailed the announcement as a positive step, but most assert that they still need to see the UDA give up its weapons.  More than 12 years has passed from the IRA's 1994 ceasefire to Sinn Féin pledging to support the PSNI last January. The process by Loyalist paramilitaries to end their campaign has been even more protracted.


Irish patients pay twice the EU average for medicines, it was revealed yesterday in the Indecon Report published by the HSE.  Wholesale margins in Ireland are about 17.66%.  Combined with the higher property prices for pharmacy outlets, it’s an extremely tough market for new pharmacists to set up their own shops.


HSE plans to reduce the cost of medicines to the public and to itself by more than 8%.  The saved resources, estimated to be about €100 million in 2008, will be used for frontline services for patients.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) accused the HSE of ignoring the recommendations of its own consultants “when pushing through changes to the wholesaler margin on September 17 last in a move which has threatened chaos in the pharmacy sector”.

The report, according to the IPU, recommended that changes needed to be carefully managed to avoid unnecessary market disruption.

“The HSE also failed to carry out an assessment on the impact of these changes on the community pharmacy sector.”


Northern Ireland is to receive £114m from the European Social Fund towards job creation and skills improvement over the next six years.   The money will be targeted at disadvantaged groups, including the disabled, single parents, older workers, young people and women with none or few qualifications.   It is part of a £3bn allocation for the UK.










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This year's World Methodist Peace Award has been won by Reverend Harold Good for his work for stability and peace in Northern Ireland.  Two years ago, he and Fr Alec Reid witnessed the de-commissioning of the IRA's weapons.  

Previous winners of the award include former US President Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela.

Rev Good, 70, will follow Gordon Wilson and Saidie Patterson to become the third Irish winner of the award in its 30-year history.  The award will be presented in Belfast on 8 December.


Gaelscoil Eiscir Uí Riada in Lucan, Co Dublin is one of dozens of all-Irish schools with an early immersion policy, teaching no English until the second term of senior infants.  Many of these schools are opposing a circular distributed during the summer by Secretary of education Mary Hanafin. It instructs them that at least half an hour of English should be taught every day from the second term of junior infants at the latest, beginning in January.

However, two gaelscoileanna and An Foras Pátrúnachta, which is patron to more than 50 all-Irish schools, were granted a judicial review on Monday, challenging this decision pending further research.

Griffin, a parent happy with her son’s progress under the immersion system, was speaking at yesterday’s launch of a campaign by the Gaelscoileanna organisation to maintain early immersion policies in almost 200 all-Irish primary schools. Gaelscoileanna president, Mícheál Ó Broin, said the minister’s letter flies in the face of international research and is contrary to advice that more research is needed from two statutory bodies, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

“The decision is based on the questionable findings of the Department of Education inspectorate in one school. The result is the proposed ending of early immersion education and a devastating blow to the Gaelscoil movement, the Irish language and a parent’s right to choose within the education system,” he said.

The minister’s decision was partly based on inspections at Gaelscoil Uí Easmainn in Tralee, Co Kerry, where some parents complained about the immersion policy in place, and one of two schools given the temporary High Court injunction on Monday.

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation vice-president Declan Kelleher questioned why the minister has advisory bodies if their advice is being ignored in such issues, and urged her to have proper research done on immersion education to help make a better informed decision.


The campaign is also supported by An Foras Pátrúnachta, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge and Conradh na Gaeilge.


Each student had to develop and produce a new piece of work to performance standard.

"Although these young musicians are used to working collaboratively as well as individually, creating and developing a piece of music from scratch requires an extremely high level of creativity so this program has certainly stretched each participant both musically and personally," said UYO's general manager Stanley Foreman.  Around 200 music students from across Northern Ireland were expected to attend the concert.

 Four of the pieces will be selected to showcase before the Ulster Orchestra's Waterfront Hall concert on November 30.


Ireland has topped a list of the World's Friendliest Countries in a survey drawn up by the Lonely Planet travel guide group.

The Lonely Planet Bluelist books are annual collections of the top trends, destinations and experiences around the world. Irish people were said to have 'a deliciously dark sense of humor’ with 'a welcoming attitude towards strangers' and the ability to find craic in boom or bust eras, Lonely Planet said.

Visitors are always 'in for a treat' and with 'The Troubles' ended, 'a cautious optimism reigns supreme, infecting the land once again with the sense that anything's possible'.

The US and Malawi were judged to be the next most-friendly countries. Other nations in the top ten included Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Scotland and Samoa.




The last Wider Horizons group of the summer returned home on October 10.  The group from Monaghan & Armagh has 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 the participants return to Ireland, hopeful of securing employment and living in peace. 

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh would like to thank all of the host families who have worked with us this summer to create a safe and supportive living situation for the participants.  Our host families have been key to the success of these programs.

We are looking forward to new Wider Horizons groups next spring.  We rely on our dedicated base of host families, as well as families new to the program, to help us provide quality programs for the young people.  We are always looking to build up our pool of host families, so please encourage interested relatives or friends to contact us.

If you are interested in becoming a Host Family, please contact us at (412) 394.3900.






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Newcastle's Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Carr has announced his retirement from international football.

The 31-year-old full-back, who was capped 44 times at senior international level, has decided to call it a day after the Republic missed out on next summer's Euro 2008 finals.

Carr previously retired from International duties in October 2005 when the then Brian Kerr managed side failed to qualify for the following summer's World Cup in Germay. He returned to the fold for the start of the euro 2008 campaign. He told the Newcastle website: 'I feel honoured to have represented the Republic of Ireland on 44 occasions and have thoroughly enjoyed my international career.

Dublin-born Carr, who joined Newcastle in a £2million switch from Tottenham, made his international debut against Sweden in 1999.  He has spent much of the last three months fighting for fitness after picking up a hamstring injury at Middlesbrough in August, and has only just returned to contention for selection for his club.

















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Our Mission:


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Dec. 6-22.  Performances at the Charity Randal Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial.  Info; PICT 412.561.6000. Tickets  or 412.394.3353.

Wednesday, November 21st

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh hosts ‘A Taste of Ireland’ featuring ná Gáels and the taste of Guinness at 7:30 pm.  Admission $10 Members; $15 Non-Members.  Information Margie Mulkerrin at 412-417-7649.

Saturday, November 24th

Pittsburgh Celtics, Pittsburgh Banshees and Pittsburgh Junior Team will host their Annual Dinner Dance at the Sokol Club on the South Side.  For Reservations call Howard Elbert  412-266-6628 or Jill McGough  724-413-9013.

Sunday, November 25th

Gaelic Arts Society Annual Memorial Mass for deceased members at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 5th Ave., Oakland at 12 Noon.  Cash Luncheon at Duranti’s.  Information Earl McCabe 412-761-1844 or John Webber Email:

Thursday, November 29th

Robert Morris University is sponsoring ‘Looking into a Ditch – the Natural and Cultural Heritage of an Irish Hedgerow’, 7:00 PM.  This lecture aims to illustrate how the typical field boundary of the Irish Landscape can be explored to uncover the archaeological, cultural and natural heritage of Ireland.  Information: Jim Vincent 412.262.8293 or Email:

Saturday, December 1st

Pittsburgh Ceili Club will sponsor a Ceili at the Morningside VFW, Chislett Street, Morningside 8:00 PM.  Information Mary Anne McGill 412-363-8686.

Friday, December 14th

The Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh will celebrate the season with their Annual Christmas Party.  Information Earl McCabe 412-761-1844.

Saturday, December 14th

The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh will host their 2007 Annual Christmas Party and General Membership Meeting.  Live Music with Mark Dignam. Bring the kids, see Santa.  Refreshments and Snacks provided; 50 / 50 Raffle.  Doors open at 7:00 pm.  Free for members, $10 Non-Members.  Information: Margie Mulkerrin 412.417.7649

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Roddy Doyle will take part in the Drue Heinz Lectures at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland at 7:30pm on Monday, January 28th.  For tickets, call 412.622.8866 or go to

become a regular at these local programs!

 Listen to Echoes of Erin, now in its 19th 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.


AOH Division 32 Carnegie will hold Fish Fry's at the Ukrainian Club in Carnegie on the following Fridays:

Friday February 23rd - Friday March 30th

Times are 3:30-7pm. For more information click on link above.


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.