Read about new developments in Newry!


The Common Ground

Vol. VI, Issue 11


      November 2008





(Marcus Square, Newry)

Newry is the fourth-largest city in Northern Ireland and eighth on the island of Ireland The River Clanrye, which runs through the city, forms the historic border between County Armagh and County Down:: Newry was included entirely in the latter by the Local Government Act of 1898.. It is 34 miles (60 km) from Belfast and 67 miles (108 km) from Dublin. It had a population of approximately 27,430 at the 2001 Census[1]. It was founded in 1144 alongside a Cistercian Monastery and is one of Northern Ireland's oldest towns.

It is close to the border with the Republic of Ireland, and it was an important place for trading in early Ireland, since it was between Belfast and Dublin.  Geographically, half of the city lies in County Down, and the other half in Count Armagh.  Newry is home to St.Patrick's church, which was the first Protestant church in Ireland.  









letter from the editor 


Three news pieces caught my eye this week, re-enforcing the idea that, when people of different backgrounds come together over a common issue, great things can result. 

In Belfast, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness confirmed that they had resolved their differences over the devolution of policing and justice, and that the power-sharing executive would resume its duties. For those who have not been following this story, Democratic Unionists, led by Mr. Robinson, favored oversight of policing and justice from Great Britain while Sinn Fein, the party of Mr. McGuinness, sought devolution of these services to local authority. For twenty-two weeks, the Northern Ireland Executive was suspended. But public outcry in Northern Ireland and around the world brought leaders of the two parties to reach an agreement to devolve policing and justice.

I also read that a new political party is forming across Europe. LIBERTAS, led by Irishman, Declan Ganley, seeks to become a pan-European party. The party is currently recruiting people in all member states of the European Union. While membership will be culturally diverse, the party hopes to unify under shared values of peace, democracy, individual liberty and free markets.

Here in Pittsburgh, I read last week that the city and surrounding communities are beginning to collaborate on local service provisions to residents. They hope to save money by consolidating services where appropriate.

We are witnessing a new kind of enlightenment. Smart leaders are confronting problems that are common to all people. They are reaching out to devise better solutions to those problems. Northern Ireland is taking more control of itself. Europe continues to evolve and strive for the right balance of federal and local authority. Even Pittsburgh is showing signs of changing the way it does business.

Cooperation is the way forward. We are facing some of the greatest challenges in the history of the world. Without cooperation and collaboration we will fail. 

A global financial crisis could wipe out the invested savings of millions across the world. The US tax payer is on the hook for 700 billion dollars. The middle class faces its biggest threat. And the poor will be first to feel the pain of the crisis. President Bush's decision to convene world leaders to discuss this crisis was important because it was inclusive. What comes of that summit we don't know. But his recognition that this global problem requires a global solution is smart and significant.

If and when we solve the global financial crisis, there are plenty of other threats requiring collaborative solutions. Global warming, AIDS, the war on terror--take your pick. I don't know much about solving these problems. But I do know that no one person, no one race, no one religion, no one cultural or national people will solve them. But a group of culturally diverse and uncommonly smart people will share ideas and develop solutions. And the entire world will be better for it, including me.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh








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Cartoncare manufactures packaging for the food, pharmaceutical, and beauty sectors and has installed the state of the art “Gallus” printing press as part of a £2million expansion project.  It is being sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland.  


The new machine will increase the company's manufacturing, and it will help the company get into the bigger business markets.  


Invest Northern Ireland has offered £231,000 towards a total investment by Cartoncare of around £2m in the purchase and installation of the Gallus printing machine.  Invest NI will also help the company with their marketing and advertising ideas.  


First Minister Rt Hon Peter Robinson said that this is a great opportunity for this company, and "Despite the current challenging global economic climate, local companies can reap significant benefits from investing in new products and processes that differentiate them from competitors."


Cartoncare investment will help contribute to the local economy and possibly inspire other local companies. 



Within the past five years, Northern Ireland has saved over 2,000 lives by emphasizing the importance and improving on their road safety.  Charlie Henderson, a senior consultant with management advisors PA Consulting Group, said," This is one of the government's successes."

In 2002, the government created a 10-year plan in for road safety in order to reduce the number of deaths by car each year.  The Northern Ireland met their target goal five years earlier than planned. They were inspired by countries such as Sweden who have a zero road death target.  

Mr. Henderson said that this is a "job well done" on the government's part, given the current financial issues the world is facing.  Northern Ireland is ahead of other United Kingdom regions in improving their road safety.  However, even though the number of deaths have decreased, Henderson believes that car accident deaths can still be minimized because they can be avoided.  

As mentioned above, Sweden has a zero road death target, and it has helped their economy.  Their car companies, such as SAAB and Volvo, have become "world leaders" in the auto industry.  




Traditional university degrees may be radically overhauled, with thousands more students studying part-time, employers funding degrees and universities forced to reveal what benefit they actually give to students.


Universities might be changing their academic schedules to fit with the schedule for  part-time students.  The government is also considering a US-style system for the use of part-time students' credits.  John Denham, the Higher Education Secretary, has been studying the United States' system towards the curriculum for part-time degrees. 


"There is going to need to be a greater flexibility in the way we deliver higher education,  The ability to study flexibly, which more often than not will mean part time; to study at more than one institution; to be accredited for what you learn in the workplace as well as what you learn in a university; all of these things will become more and more common," said Denham.  


Denham also said that they want to publish more information about where students go and what they do after their degree.  As of right now, he has just been researching the issue, and, depending on the outcome, deciding whether or not to raise the £3,000 cap on student tuition fees.


One of Northern Ireland's top heart experts received clarifying news, from an international study, that will help in his support towards the use of statins in heart and stroke prevention.  


Professor Mahendra Varma is a consultant cardiologist from Fermanagh, and has agreed with the use of statins as a means of preventative measures towards stroke, cholesterol, and heart disease.    Statins are considered to be the "miracle drugs of the 21st century, and they are one of the top-selling drugs in the world.  Statins are a group of pharmaceutical drugs that are used to reduce cholesterol levels which contribute to heart problems in people.  The list of these commonly used drugs are atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin.


The study was conducted among 17,800 men and women with normal cholesterol levels.  After an average follow-up of two years, 20mg a day of rosuvastatin was found to have cut cholesterol by 50 percent and C-reactive protein by 37 percent.  


The UK's National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) recommends doctors carry out a risk calculation based on an individual's blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and other risk factors, such as whether or not they smoke.










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Speculation is growing that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning a £15bn package of tax cuts to boost the ailing economy. The Prime Minister believes that a "fiscal stimulus" and a breakthrough on stalled talks on a world trade deal could help avert deep global recession.  

The "possible" tax cut is estimated to be between £10bn and £15bn.  Businesses rely on consumer spending to help overcome the current situation because money can not be taken out of the economy at this time.  It was predicted tax cuts would be worth an average of £480 to every household in the country.  

Conservative leader David Cameron yesterday warned that the tax cuts reportedly being considered by Mr. Brown would risk higher interest rates and higher taxes in the future  Mr. Brown also believes that waiting to take action will not help their economy, and the longer they wait to take financial action, the more the economy might suffer.  He also said, ""It is becoming increasingly accepted around the world that a temporary and affordable fiscal stimulus is necessary. This will have the most impact if it is co-coordinated internationally. By acting now we can stimulate growth in our economies."

They plan to not cut public spending, but they will make some cuts in government spending.


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Special Delegate Conference has voted to accept the national wage agreement that was negotiated in September.  The President of the country's largest union, SIPTU, called on the Government to withhold state contracts from employers who fail to comply with the new agreement.

The country's second largest union, UNITE, was against the agreement.  However, many of the speakers made it a point to acknowledge the economic climate, stating that there were no better options.  

The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has called on the Government to suspend the National pay terms, in the interests of the economy.  The Association warned that it was self-evident that wage increases will exacerbate an already perilous economic situation and, if granted, will drive companies to enforced closure, condemning more people to redundancy.


Political leaders and leading figures in Northern Ireland paid their respects to Sir John Hermon.  Northern Irish citizens, young and old, waited for over an hour, in the bitter cold, to honor the former chief constable.

Hermon was the longest-serving chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.  Former RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who served under Sir John during the 1980s, joined PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, former RUC Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan and senior officers from both the RUC and PSNI, who were among the number of visitors to pay their respects to Hermon.  Some of the other notable figures to attend the services were:

Former first ministers Lord David Trimble and Dr Ian Paisley, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, SDLP leader Mark Durkan joined members of the Policing Board and the Garda.

The Queen's Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Lady Carswell, US Consul General Susan Elliot and a diplomat on behalf of Irish President Mary McAleese were also there.

He spend the last couple months in a nursing home before being transferred.  He died on November 6, 2008 at the age of 79.



The current financial situations maybe making many individuals' stress levels sky-rocket; however, those 50 years of age and older, in Northern Ireland, will experience a break in health premiums.  

The Government is to provide increased tax relief for private health insurance premiums for everyone aged 50 years and older.  This new shift will affect approximately 2.2 million people.  It is part of a series of measures to make health insurance more affordable for older people.

The tiered- tax relief will be €200 a year for those aged 50-59 years, €500 for those aged 60-69 years, €950 for those aged 70-79 years and €1,175 for people aged 80 years and older.  However, a levy of €160 a year will be applied to all health insurance companies for each adult they have on their books and €53 for each child.

Even though this is a good thing for people 50 years of age and older, if it is their first time seeking health coverage, they will be penalized.  This means that those individuals getting health premiums for the first time, around the age of 40, will pay a higher fee.  






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American Football arrived in Newry at Jennings Park on Sunday 5th October. This is part of the Irish American Football Association's Festival program to actively promote the sport in Ireland. “We chose Newry to begin with due to it's strong connections through the Rooney family who own the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said Irish American Football Association President Greg  Loughran.  He added that “American Football has been growing steadily over the past few years and we now have 13 teams and another 3 in our audit process for next year. Next stop will be Portlaoise and Galway, who also  have various connections.” 

Loughran enjoyed the game played in Newry.  He said, "We had a wonderful day in Newry, the sun shone all day, we played football on a perfectly laid out pitch and we made some great friends."

For more information, contact Greg Loughran at


















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December 3 – 20

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre ( presents ‘Dublin Carol’ at the Henry Heymann Theatre, at the Stephen Foster Memorial on Univ. or Pgh. campus; directed by Jackie Maxwell.  Tickets: ProArts, 412.394.3353, online:



Friday, November 21

   The 2008 Three Rivers Film Festival will have three showings of the Irish film comedy “How About You”, based on Maeve Binchy’s book of the same name.  Shown at the Harris Theatre, 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown.  Today at 7:30PM.  Admission at door - $8.00.  Starring Hayley Atwell, also in the cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Imelda Staunton, Brenda Fricker, and Joss Ackland.  To be released later this year on the ‘art house circuit’


Sunday, November 23

   Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh will have a Memorial Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 12:00 Noon.  Lunch & Book Review at Duranti’s Restaurant at 1:00 PM.  “Kingdom of the Ark” by Lorraine Evans, reviewed by Sarah Mains.

Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM at 1:00 PM.  The Ireland Report from Belfast with Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Belfast.


Saturday, November 29

  Pittsburgh GAA – Celtics, Banshees & Youth Football Club will host their Annual Banquet at Jamie’s Restaurant, 3220 West Liberty Avenue, Dormont.  Entertainment with Guaranteed Irish.  Information: Rob Tierney, 412.478.2799 or Marie Young, 412.969.9992.  Free Parking.

Paddy’s Pour House, 215 East Main Street, Carnegie, 412-279-0700, features Ballad Singer, Sean McClorey, at 9:00 PM.

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, presents Corned Beef & Curry at 9:00PM.


Sunday, November 30

Christmas Concert with singer / songwriter Mike Gallagher, fiddler Bob Banjeree & Irish whistle player Bob Pegritz at Synod Hall, (behind St. Paul’s Cathedral), So. Craig St., Oakland at 2:00 PM.  Advance tickets $10, Door $12.  Information 412-301-0599.



Sunday, December 14

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh is seeking Host Families for young adults, 18-26, from Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Call 412.394.3900, Website:


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.  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.  Come for "Irish Nite" on tuesdays for Guiness, Smitchwick's and Half & Half Specials 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

Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club 2008 Schedule


For more information contact:

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.

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