The Common Ground

Vol. VII, Issue 10


October 2009



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On Monday Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, addressed a full house of members of the Stormont Assembly, congratulating them on leading their still divided communities.  She  identified Northern Ireland as the shining example of how regions in conflict around the world can emerge through a democratic process.  She urged leaders to push for reconciliation and promised US support of efforts for peace and prosperity for all.  She spoke of the continuing threats posed by extremists there and suggested that steadfast leadership for peace would put today’s dissidents on the wrong side of history.  It was a moving oration that brought members to their feet.


This was not a lead story in Tuesday’s national and international news cycle.  The global economy, the bloody conflicts across the developing world, and various domestic issues garner the most attention, as well they should.  But there is still a huge story to be told about the Northern Ireland conflict, the legacy of the “Troubles,” and the way forward.


Across a thirty year-period this territory hosted a conflict in which more than three percent of the population was killed, most of the death occurring in the first decade.  Communities were segregated.  People were threatened.  Many of them died from gun shots, bombs, or beatings.  The dead were on both sides of the conflict.  Catholics, Protestants, republicans, loyalists, security forces, police, criminals, and many who were not involved in either side.  Thousands more were injured, and thousands simply left for opportunities that would not be available in a war zone.  Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Northern Ireland was just that.


That period ended with an historic agreement of shared power, democratic institutions, and other consents.  Over the eleven years since that agreement, military enemies have settled in as political opponents.  Tensions among governments have made way for unprecedented cooperation.  And some of the most extreme factions of paramilitarism have acquiesced to the opportunities for democracy, liberty, and justice for all.   This week’s decision by the Irish National Liberation Army to end its “armed struggle” is yet another victory for those leaders who took risks for peace.


The Irish of Pittsburgh have made significant contributions to the peace process as well.  Former Congressman Bill Coyne helped create the International Fund for Ireland which has invested nearly half a billion dollars to peace in Ireland.  Current Congressmen, Mike Doyle and Tim Murphy push the Irish peace agenda from both sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives.  US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney has invested serious time, energy and money there.  Support organizations like the Conway Mill Trust and the American Ireland Fund enhance the capacity of communities there.   And of course the many people that make the Ireland Institute go—the board, host families, work mentors, faculty and staff, and volunteers—have collectively improved the lives of over 1500 young people from the conflict’s two sides.


Still, there is much work to be done in order for the people of that land to realize peace, prosperity, and justice.  The people of Ireland, North and South, and the Irish diaspora around the world remain fascinated by the Northern Ireland conflict.  How did it start? Who was involved? Why?  What and where are the damages? Can and will the conflict be resolved?  Where do we go from here?  How can I make a difference?  What can I do to help end the conflict, strengthen the peace, and improve conditions there?  How do world leaders and ordinary citizens transfer the lessons learned in Northern Ireland to other conflicts?


On Friday, October 30th, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh will host “A Forum on the Northern Ireland Conflict,” that will address some of these questions.  Details about the forum are in this newsletter and posted on our website.  I hope you will join us.

Jim Lamb




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In a vote that took place last Friday week in Ireland, the Lisbon Treaty was passed by a two-to-one majority - a 20.5% swing towards the Yes side since the first Lisbon referendum.

Ireland voted in favor of the Treaty by a final margin of 67.1% to 32.9%. Only two of the 43 constituencies voted against the Treaty.

It was the highest Yes vote in a referendum on Europe since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. The turnout was also the highest in a European referendum since the original vote on joining the then EEC in 1972.

The Yes result from Cork South-West saw the 'tipping-point' reached - meaning the Treaty would definitely be accepted, even in the highly unlikely event that all the remaining votes had been cast against it.

Two Donegal constituencies recorded the only No votes. The 13% swing towards Yes in the two constituencies was not enough to take them out of the No column.

In the Tánaiste's constituency of Donegal South West, the No side won by just 171 votes.

The margin was higher in Donegal North East, at 848, but Donegal stands alone - every other constituency in the country voted Yes.

The final result shows a stunning swing to the Yes side since the first Lisbon Referendum 15 months ago.

The highest Yes vote was in Dublin South, at just under 82%, closely followed by Dún Laoghaire at just under 81%.

Higher turnout is part of the answer for the swing - the Government and the main Opposition parties, who all campaigned for a Yes, will now argue about who did most to win the referendum.

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, described the Lisbon referendum result as a decisive step for a 'stronger, fairer, better, Ireland and Europe.'

'The Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice'.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said the Yes vote was a great day for Ireland and for Europe.

'I see the Yes vote as a sign of confidence by the Irish electorate in the European Union, as a sign of their desire to be wholehearted members at the heart of the European Union, as a sign that Ireland recognizes the role that the European Union has played in responding to the economic crisis,' Mr Barroso said.


The Irish National Liberation Army (I.N.L.A.) has announced that it is to end its armed struggle.

Last Sunday in Bray, Co. Wicklow, in a statement read out at the commemoration of its founding member, a spokesperson said that it would continue its campaign for a 32 County Socialist Republic through peaceful and political means.

After the traditional wreath-laying ceremony, a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the INLA, announced that the organization had decided to end its armed struggle. 

He said that the group had concluded that its objective of a 32 County Socialist Republic was best achieved through peaceful and political means.

The announcement brought to an end a 35 year campaign which has claimed around 150 lives. 

After the IRA called its ceasefires in the 90s and eventually ended its campaign, the INLA remained in existence.

The INLA was notorious for the ruthless nature of its attacks and today's decision is both a significant and welcome development.


In recent years it was involved in several murders and has remained active in Derry, Strabane, parts of Belfast and in Dublin.

The PSNI and Gardaí often linked it to racketeering and drugs related businesses.


A report from Ulster Bank has predicted that Northern Ireland could emerge from recession by the end of this year.

According to the bank's Purchasing Managers' Indexes (PMI) survey, there has been a significant rise in the number of northern companies reporting growth.

Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said that more than one in four firms reported a rise in business activity in August - a figure not seen since October 2007.

He added that 30% of companies have noticed a rise in new business, which is the largest percentage in two years.

While Northern Ireland is the only UK region that has yet to return to economic growth, this report is cause for optimism.

It found that the drop in private business transactions is at its lowest since January 2008.

However, while average charges for services have fallen sharply, the cost of raw materials or labor rose at its most marked rate for four months.

According to Mr Ramsey, the pace of job losses is easing, with local firms reporting a more moderate decline in employment levels.

However, Northern Ireland's construction sector is cutting jobs.



Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that progress had been made at talks between Northern Ireland leaders and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the issue of devolution.

Mr Brown traveled to Stormont for talks on devolution of policing and justice matters to Northern Ireland from Westminster.

The DUP says it will not approve devolution until the UK Treasury provides an appropriate cash package, thought to be in the region of £600m (€655m), to support a new justice department.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Brown had not put a final figure to him on the cost of a settlement. He said a final offer had not been made because Mr Brown was not sure if local leaders were yet in a position to take the decisive step but added that he was not the obstacle.

Mr McGuinness said: 'If the British Government really want this in place ... they will come up with the money. Gordon Brown has reiterated that this will not fail because of money. He said he was determined to deliver.

'We are very rapidly approaching make-your-mind-up time. In terms of the financial situation, we are moving forward, I think, fairly decisively.'

He said Mr Brown had indicated that he may need to see him again in the near future.

Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said there was still work being done on the issues.

He said: 'What we want to do is to be absolutely sure that all the foreseeable inescapable pressures are dealt with and the unforeseeable ones we have a process where we can be sure that we have access to the (funding) reserve.'

He said everybody in the Assembly group, all the MPs and all party officers were behind his position and the criteria which had been placed before the Prime Minister. He said he was perfectly calm about the challenges facing him and denied that there were 'angry men', as described by Mr McGuinness, in the DUP.

'I have not seen any angry men in the DUP. I have seen some irritable characters in Sinn Fein.'

He added: 'I am prepared and can work with anybody who has the same goals, which are to make the Assembly and Executive work for the benefit of Northern Ireland. I was not elected to be a buddy for Martin McGuinness, I was elected to work with him and that is why I am here.'

He said there was a sensible way forward.

'We are calm, we are behaving rationally, we are working through the issues, we are not getting excited.'




The US Secretary of State has described the devolution of justice and policing powers in Northern Ireland as an absolutely essential milestone. Hillary Clinton made her comments during talks with the Irish Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs during her recent visit to Ireland.

Earlier, she said there was no financial support for the 'evil enterprise' of the Real IRA coming from US sympathizers.

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland the IRA received a significant portion of its funds from US sympathizers, an issue that still rankles today.

After her meetings in Dublin the Secretary traveled to Stormont where she held talks with Northern Ireland's political leaders. Mrs Clinton met First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, where they discussed US political and economic support for the peace process. She then addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly hailing the progress already made in Northern Ireland in the last 15 years as a model for reconciliation around the world.

She said President Barack Obama's administration stood ready to help in any way to overcome the outstanding issues confronting the power sharing administration. Foremost among those is the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster. The politically sensitive move was understood to be high on the agenda during Mrs Clinton's hour long talks with the Democratic Unionist and Sinn Fein representatives.

'There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Northern Ireland has come a long way,' she said afterwards. 'Old enemies are working together to build a stable, prosperous future and I've seen first hand how you have become a model for conflict resolution and reconciliation around the world.

'I hear that on my travels: people who are determined to choose peace and progress over violence look toward you.'

She added: 'The United States stands ready to help in any way we can, our peoples are bound together by both historic and ancestral ties nurtured by friendship and partnerships. 

'Both my husband and I feel a special bond with this land and as Secretary of State I am committed to continue to offer a hand of friendship and partnership.'

Republicans and unionists have yet to finalize an agreement on devolving policing and justice powers from Westminster to the Stormont Assembly. However, recent, lengthy talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown carved out a financial blueprint for the move.

It was the Secretary's seventh visit to Northern Ireland since she first arrived as First Lady with her husband President Bill Clinton to boost the search for peace in the 1990s.


As she arrived in Belfast last night, she threw her weight behind the efforts of the British and Irish governments to secure the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont. Mrs Clinton said: 'The step of devolution for policing and justice is an absolutely essential milestone.

'Clearly there are questions and some apprehensions but I believe that due to the concerted effort of the British government, Irish government and support of friends like us in the US, that the parties understand this is a step they must take together. It will take the leaders of both communities working together to continue not only the devolution but then to make day-to-day governing a reality, and I'm confident that that is within reach.'







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Plans to set up a new visitors' center, manufacturing and retail outlet for Waterford Crystal have been announced.

The plans propose to redevelop the old ESB offices and surrounding buildings on the Mall in Waterford city.

Negotiations are nearing a conclusion with the group who owns the Waterford Crystal brand over the operation of the facility.

Around 100 direct jobs could be created at the new premises.

It is estimated that €20m will be invested by Waterford City Council at the site on the Mall and in a scheme to improve the accessibility of the heritage assets in the city's Viking triangle surrounding Reginald's Tower.

Initial funding for the project has already been secured from the European Regional Development Fund through the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly's programme for urban development and regeneration projects in designated gateways and hubs.

There are currently around 30 people still employed at the traditional Waterford Crystal facility at Kilbarry on the outskirts of the city.

At one stage in the 1980s, close to 3,000 people were employed there. Manufacturing ceased in February, but the visitors' center remains open.


Ireland's first robot doctor started working in Dublin's Tallaght Hospital in the past week. 

The robot allows a medical specialist to examine a patient in the emergency department from a remote location.

The specialist can speak to the patient, view scans and consult with the medical team.

Tallaght Hospital is using the Remote Presence Robot (RP7) to diagnose strokes quickly, so that clot-busting drugs can be administered within the four-and-a-half hour target time, improving the chances of recovery.

Dr Ronan Collins, Consultant Geriatrician and Stroke Specialist at Tallaght Hospital, said the system is not designed to replace a doctor but to give an emergency department access to specialist advice which may not have been available.

The robot is to be introduced in four other hospitals; Mullingar and Naas will be next to have one, followed by Tullamore and Portlaoise.

The project is part of the HSE's Dublin Mid-Leinster Stroke Network Partnership.


Planning applications, in the Republic, have fallen by almost a third this year, as the recession hits the construction industry.

However, 2008 was characterized as being a 'very high year' for applications and so this year's drop is smaller than expected.

An Bord Pleanála (the planning board) says the number of planning applications it has received in 2009 is down by more than 30%. 

It also argued that it had given warnings on residential over-zoning in recent years and described the extent of one-off housing in Ireland as 'alarming'.

Chairman John O'Connor said the unsustainable amount of one-off housing would have to be tackled in the years ahead.

Mr O'Connor also stressed that proper planning would continue to be applied in all cases and there would be no exceptions for deeply indebted projects expected to be dealt with by NAMA. 

An Bord Pleanála says it had been ringing the alarm bells on residential over-zoning in recent years.

It said applicants to its Strategic Infrastructure Division were being too vague in proposals, with some applications not even site specific.

The board also called for a streamlining of local planning because 88 planning authorities for a population of nearly 4.5m people is too much.





Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin began a three-day visit to the US on Wednesday 14th October.

The Minister will discuss immigration reform with political representatives from both houses of the US Congress in Washington. He will once again mark out Ireland's position on the 'undocumented' or those who are in the US illegally.

Immigration reform is an important issue for the Irish Government, but the US Congress is now involved in a major battle over healthcare reform.

President Barack Obama has committed his administration to deal with the issue in the early part of next year.

The Minister is also anxious to eventually get the best deal possible for Irish people who want to go to work in the US in the future.

They are hoping for something along the lines of a two-year renewable work visa, which is similar to one that is in operation between Ireland and Australia.






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Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland side ended their Group Eight qualifying campaign in disappointing style this week with a 0-0 draw against Montenegro at Croke Park. The week started brightly with Ireland almost taking a shock win when Sean St. Ledger put them 2-1 ahead with just 3 minutes to go. But on the stroke of 90minutes, Italian striker Alberto Gilardino pounced to score the equalizer.

The result against Montenegro, though, was largely immaterial with Ireland having already secured their place in November's play-offs, with the manager having made six changes to the side that fell just short of gaining that famous victory over reigning World champions Italy.

However, the point at least saw Ireland end the group stage unbeaten in their 10 games.

The draw for the play-offs will take place next Monday 19th October with Ireland likely to be drawn against either France, Russia, Portugal or Greece. The play-offs will be played in a two-legged affair on Saturday 14th November and Wednesday 18th November.


The following teams have all qualified from Europe: Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland.

The USA have also qualified along with Brazil and Argentina.

The World Cup itself takes place in South Africa next Summer from 11th June - 11th July.


Our third group of the year, from Monaghan and Portadown, arrived on Thursday 3rd September. They're here for eight weeks. 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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Our Mission:



Help the Institute:


Wednesdays in September & October

‘Window to Ireland’ designed to give you an overview of Irish

cultural topics including geography, history, economy, the

language, Gaelic surnames, poetry and music. Class includes a

‘hands-on’ drawing class of Celtic symbols, handicrafts and a

travel video and Irish dancing. Community College of Allegheny

County (CCAC) Downtown Campus, 625 Stanwix Street, 11th

floor, 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Six classes on Wednesdays’ – Sept. 16,

28 (due to the G20 Summit), 30, Oct. 7, 14 & 21. Tuition $75.

Information and registration – 412.369.3703. Other information

John F. Webber 412.758.5446.

Tuesday, October 20

Celtic Thunder in Concert at Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown Pittsburgh, 8:00PM. 412-392-4900.


Saturday, October 24


Night at the Races sponsored by The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh and Burke Conroy School of Irish Dance. Doors open at 6:30 PM, light buffet 6:45 PM, Races begin at 7:30 PM. Admission $15. Information Mary Conroy Adams, 412.781.3273, or email Mary Margaret Murtha Purchase a horse or place an ad in the program book.


Sunday, October 25


Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh presents Susan Shegog, owner of ‘The Celtic Connections Stop’, Lincoln Ave. in Bellevue. Susan will give a talk and tell stories of interest to many. Synod Hall in Oakland 2:30PM followed by a reception. Free and open to the public. Information 412.761.1844.


Friday, October 30


The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh in association with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Study & Congressman Tim Murphy presents A Forum on the Northern Ireland Conflict:
Where We Are, and Where We’re Going, 5:00pm, 120 David Lawrence Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA15213, FREE ADMISSION


A United Ireland: How Do We Get There. Come join the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC) & Congressman Mike Doyle in welcoming Rita O’Hare from Sinn Fein to Pittsburgh to discuss how Pittsburgh’s Irish-American Community might help achieve the vision of a United Ireland, Free, Independent, and Sovereign. the FREE event starts at 7pm and will be held at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, 4215 Fifth Avenue (Oakland), Pittsburgh, PA15213.


Sunday, November 1


Samhain, The Celtic New Year Celebration, at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., in The Strip, (Mullaney’s Castle for the day). Fundraiser for Echoes of Erin. Entertainment with Ballad Singer, Terry Griffith; Singer, Songwriter & Musician, Christopher Laughrey; singer & musician Jack Puskar; Piper – Sean Regan, and Gallowglass. Doors open at 4:00PM. Tithe at door $15.00. Costume Contest and Raffles, (costumes are not mandatory, just lots of fun)!!


Friday & Saturday, November 6 & 7

The Balmoral Classic at Shady Side Academy, Fox Chapel. Featuring the US Junior Solo Bagpiping Championship Competition & Concert at Hillman Center for Performing Arts. Information: George Balderose, 412.323.2707 or OR 


Saturday, November 7

Hibernian Hunger Project "Produce to People" Braddock location 9th Street & Talbot Avenue Braddock Pa. at 8:30am. Information: Terry Callahan by Email: or Kevin O’Donnell Email: or 412-613-3500.

LAOH Maude Gonne Division 32 hosts their Fashion Show and Luncheon at Nevillewood Country Club, doors open 11:00AM. Proceeds benefit charity. Ticket information Onnie Costanzo 412.563.5174 or Sharon McGrath 412.276.7916.
Pittsburgh Ceili Club Monthly Ceili at VFW on Morningside Ave. in Morningside, Workshop 7:00 PM, Ceili at 8:00 PM.


Thursday, November 19th


Dinner and Show with Cahal Dunne, 7:30pm, Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle (Strip district). Cost $25 (includes choice of one of three entrées: Grilled 8oz. Flank Iron Steak served with house salad, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes; Stuffed Chicken Breast served with house salad, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes; Baked Cod English style served with house salad, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes). Cash Bar. Please call Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle for reservations 412-642-6422

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



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 Banshees

    Pittsburgh Celtics      




Check Performance Schedules, Etc.

Aran from Johnstown PA -    

George Balderose  -

Carnival of Souls -

Ceann  -

Cue Ball Music

Cahal Dunne  -

Tony Egan   -

Michael Gallagher  -

Terry Griffith 

Guaranteed Irish    -

Hiraeth  -

Hooley  -

John McCann  -

Corned Beef & Curry - http://

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.

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 such as event tickets etc. that we can then distribute to our participants.

For further information or questions about how you can donate, please contact us at 412-394-3900.




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