Read about Iraqi politicians' visit to Northern Ireland!


The Common Ground

Vol. V, Issue 10


      October 2007



                 News Updates






letter from the editor 


I was in Northern Ireland earlier this month and was struck by the political discourse on two separate issues emanating from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

First, the Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie, intended to withhold government funds for Loyalist communities in the wake of a paramilitary organization's refusal to decommission its arsenal of weapons. The Ulster Defense Association continues to rule in some of these most needy communities, armed and dangerous. Ms. Ritchie's concern is that funding into those communities will be controlled ultimately by the UDA. Finding someone to administer these funds who will not be intimidated by UDA's attempts to control or extort them will prove most difficult.

The good news here is that the problem is being addressed through a sound democratic political process, not the violent demonstrations of the recent past. Even groups associated with the UDA seem committed to making their arguments for the funding in the political arena. The bad news is that the communities in desperate need of the funding are still desperate. If this issue does not get resolved soon, the threat of a violence will linger.

Meanwhile, the Assembly wrestled with the issue of the Irish language and its merits, or lack thereof, as an official language in Assembly legislative sessions and debates. The arguments and votes ran, as expected, on strict partisan lines, with nationalist parties, Sinn Fein and SDLP pushing for the Irish language, and both DUP and Ulster Unionists in opposition to such an act. When the Alliance party backed the unionist position the Irish Language act was dismissed.

Personal opinions aside, the fact that these issues are being discussed in an open forum of democratically elected representatives is a refreshing reminder that in the development of civil society, the ballot box beats the bullet every time. It also provides another example of smaller parties' abilities to swing legislation and the need for larger parties to take heed.

Once again, the Northern Ireland Assembly should be commended for its commitment to the democratic political process. May that commitment continue as these and other thorny issues emerge.

Jim Lamb, President

Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh

coming soon....


Monday, January 28, 2008

Carnegie Music Hall 7:30 pm

Irish author Roddy Doyle’s first acclaimed novel The Commitments was made into a popular feature film directed by Alan Parker. Five novels later, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha won the prestigious Booker Prize. Of Paula Spencer(2006), his ninth, Scotland on Sundays says, “Doyle has created a little masterwork, a gem of persuasive realism.”

For more information or to buy tickets, call 412.622.8866 or go to

For more about Mr. Doyle's books, visit



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Because Ireland did not sign on to the original Schengen Agreement, which established a basically border-free Europe, it was excluded from three police and border security cooperation measures. 

Ireland and Britain have been excluded from taking part in Frontex, the EU border agency; from the security and biometric standards in EU citizens’ passports; and have been told the Garda may not have access to the new visa information system. Both countries argue they have a right to opt into measures dealing with visas, asylum, immigration and police co-operation and have challenged the Frontex and biometric passport cases in the European Court of Justice.

The third case, on security forces’ access to the EU’s fledgling visa information system, arose after the case had been taken to the Luxembourg-based court. Britain and Ireland got agreement the issue would remain open pending the court’s decision. A judgment will not be issued until next year.

Frontex was established to co-ordinate and support national border police on the EU’s external border. The biometric issue sets standards for EU citizens’ passports to ensure the security features are harmonized and can be machine-read at the EU’s external borders.

Labour Party MEP Proinsias de Rossa has been highly critical of the Government’s decision to opt out of some aspects of the new treaty. “We are failing to take the measures necessary to protect citizens, given that criminals are able to move freely across the EU. We are not playing fair by the citizens”, he said.


The Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland, which has existed since the establishment of the Republic, may fade out of existance if plans of the two governments come into effect.

In preparation for the establishment of electronic border controls in the UK in 2009, British government officials have asked the Republic to work on bringing an end to the Common Travel Area.  The British government is not expected to implement those controls at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Though there are no immediate plans to have passports checked at the border between Britain and Ireland, the governments hope to use the information about travelers' movements to track terrorists, illegal immigrants, and criminals.  If someone is on a watchlist and is traveling, the authorities will be alerted in advance. 

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that if the United Kingdom institutes electronic border controls, Ireland should follow with a similar system.


A delegation of Sunni and Shia parlimentarians from Iraq visited Stormont on Thursday to study power sharing in Northern Ireland. The visit followed four days of talks last month in Finland, which saw Mr McGuinness, Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson and South African politicians brief Iraqi leaders on their peace and political processes.

Among the issues the delegation was expected to raise are how devolution might be developed for provinces within Iraq, as well as local government issues and conflict resolution.

They met with First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who said they were looking forward to briefing the delegation.  The visit was sponsored by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.


Beginning in November, scientists will probe the seabed from Rathlin Island in the east to Tory Island off the coast of Co Donegal in the west. The joint project is being carried out by the Marine Institute of Ireland with the UK Coastguard and is expected to result in some fascinating maps of the seabed in a band three nautical miles wide.

The Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey Project follows on from extensive mapping around the coasts of the Republic that has already yielded fascinating results, according to Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute.  It's the largest mapping project of its kind in the world and has revealed that 90% of the Irish Republic is land beneath the waves, he explained. 

The end result may be an atlas of the underwater land, linking to a proposed mapping scheme for all the marine areas around the European Union.  The proposed Green Paper, currently under discussion in the European Union, would adopt an integrated approach to the marine environment and its management.  Keeping in mind the wider affects to the environment, especially in the light of global warming, the paper would have impacts on shipping, fishing, and tourism policies. 

Though Dr. Heffernan stressed that such policies could no longer be made in isolation, he also stated that the survey could provide new opportunities for coastal communities, which can take advantage of Ireland’s location close to Europe's most productive fishing grounds.










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Top belfast cancer charity expands hospice

In a multi-million pound refurbishment, the Belfast Marie Curie Cancer Care Center doubled its size, providing new and updated services to its patients.  It now includes an outpatient and day therapy area as well as a modern inpatient unit that provides up to 17 new fully serviced en suite rooms. 

 Maeve Hully, caring services manger at Marie Curie Cancer Care Belfast, said the key objective of the Living Rooms Appeal was to "create a modern hospice that would feel like a home from home for local patients and families. It has produced a bright, safe contemporary living and care space that promotes positive well being as well as providing specialized end of life care services," she said.

Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers and Marie Curie Cancer Care's chief executive, Tom Hughes-Hallett, were on hand at the opening of the revamped facility with patients, families and special guests.

Although the opening signifies the completion of the build work, the charity must raise a further £250,000 in order to finish the fundraising effort.

The hospice also provides services such as aromatherapy, massage, relaxation and reflexology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, art and music therapy and counseling.

On average, around 2,335 people visit the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast each month.


Pope Benedict may be interested in visiting Northern Ireland, according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.  Dr Martin told an audience in New York last night that he interpreted the Pontiff's choice of Archbishop Seán Brady as cardinal as an indication that he wants to visit Northern Ireland.   Delivering the inaugural Irish Institute of New York Lecture, Archbishop Martin praised Archbishop Brady for quietly and daily sustaining the peace process.  He said that, combined with a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Dublin, such a Papal journey would mark a symbolic opening of a new era north and south

During his Irish pilgrimage in 1979, Pope John Paul II was unable to travel to Northern Ireland for security reasons. 


Work on the U2 tower in the Dublin docklands is set to begin next year.  An Irish consortium has been selected to design and build the €200m landmark, which will include hotel and residential areas, including 20% social and affordable housing, as well as a retail and public viewing area, and a recording studio for the band.  The Dublin Docklands Authority Chief Executive Paul Maloney has said that viewing area, at 100m, will offer spectacular views over Dublin Bay.  The tower should be completed in 2011.


Irish writer Anne Enright won the Man Booker fiction prize for "The Gathering," an uncompromising portrait of a troubled family.  She is the second Irish writer to win the prize in the past three years, after John Banville's "The Sea" in 2005.  Britain’s most prestigious literary trophy carries a prize of $100,000 and was awarded during a ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.

"The Gathering" is a family epic set in England and Ireland, in which a brother's suicide prompts 39-year-old Veronica Hegarty to probe her family's troubled, tangled history. The judges praised it as "a very accomplished and dramatic novel of family relationships and personal breakdown."

Enright said people looking for a cheery read should not pick up her book.  She called the books focus on the family a classical Irish theme: "I think family is a hugely interesting place, it's a place where stories happen. ... And it's also a central Irish institution."

Dublin-born Enright, 45, has published three previous novels, two short-story collections and the nonfiction book "Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood."

The other nominees were English writer Nicola Barker's "Darkmans," a sprawling supernatural saga set in the town of Ashford in southern England, hailed by the panel as "an ambitious and energetic contemporary ghost story"; "and "Animal's People," a novel about the Bhopal chemical disaster by India's Indra Sinha.

The prize, which is open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of former British colonies, was founded in 1969 and was long known as the Booker Prize. It was renamed when the financial services conglomerate Man Group PLC began sponsoring it five years ago.



The last Wider Horizons group of the summer is 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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Local pride always stirs the blood so maybe we should not have been surprised that James Gorman and Gary Hamilton served up a spit and sawdust brawl last Saturday night.

In days gone by after such an energy-sapping duel between two evenly matched boxers at the lower end of the boxing scale supporters would have tossed in coins in appreciation.

Instead east Belfast man Gorman walked away with the Northern Ireland Area light-welterweight title after being handed a 98-95 decision by referee David Irving.

The Cambridge Rooms venue at the Park Avenue Hotel was rocking from the moment Hamilton and Gorman made their entrance and never stopped until long after Gorman had his hand raised.

Gorman said: "I thought I just about had it but credit to Gary he put up a great fight. I hope that I can now go on and fight Oisin Fagan for the Irish title, maybe in December. It's a great night for me and the fans were amazing."

















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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.

Saturday, October 27th

The St. Andrew Society will hold a Fall Ceilidh at Boyce Park Ski Lodge, 4 Seasons Center, 5-11PM.  $10 + bring desert or salad or something to share. Information Jim Campbell 724.468.5946.

Sunday, October 28th

Echoes of Erin will hold Samhain, the Celtic New Year Celebration at Mullaney's Castle (Harp & Fiddle) at 4:00pm on Sunday.  The Pub will be converted into a castle with staff dressed in costume.  Entertainment will be ballad singer Terry Griffith, na Gaels, Sutch Sounds, and the Rivermen.  Costume contest with prizes, cultural baskets. Donation $15 for Echoes of Erin fundraiser.  Contact Diane Byrnes 412.781.6368.

Saturday, November 3rd

LAOH Maude Gonne Division 32 Luncheon at Nevillewood, featuring Chinese Auction, Lottery / Money Tree, Wine Basket, plus more.  Information: Nancy Anderson 412.854.1772.

Sunday, November 4th

The Year of Remembrance Committee and the Allegheny County AOH Hunger Project will host ‘An Gorta Mor / The Great Hunger’ the 160th Anniversary of The Great Hunger / Famine of Ireland.  Historical readings, stories and music with Sean McClorey and Guaranteed Irish at McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon, 211 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh 15212.  Doors open at 3:00 pm.  Tickets - $10.00 in Advance; $12.00 at Door with a BAG of non-perishable food; $15.00 at Door without Food Donation.  Proceeds benefit The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul Society. Information Contact: Diane Byrnes 412.781.6368  or Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin, 412-782-2715,

Friday, November 9th

The Balmoral Classic, hosted and produced by The Balmoral School of Piping will host a Reception from 7:00pm to 11:00pm at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, 4215 Fifth Avenue in Oakland.  Admission $20. 412.323.2707 Email:

Saturday, November 10th

The 2007 Balmoral Classic United States Junior Solo Bagpipe Competition from 9:00am to 5:00pm; US Invitational Junior Solo Piping Championship at Mellon Institute Auditorium, 4400 Fifth Ave in Oakland.  Admission FREE.  Evening Concert with the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band at Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave. in Oakland at 7:30pm. Tickets: or 412.394.3353.  Information: George Balderose 412.323.2707 Email:

Sunday, November 11th

Remembrance Day Parade of massed bagpipe bands. 10:00 am, Downtown Pittsburgh.  Worship service at First Presbyterian Church, Sixth Avenue.

The Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh will host a Book Review The Yeats Connection’ by Frederick Lapisardi, Author at Duranti’s Restaurant, North Craig St. Oakland at 1:30 PM.  Information Earl McCabe 412-761-1844.

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 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.


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, and other news sources.