The Common Ground

Vol. VII, Issue 9


September 2009



Common Ground readers and other supporters of the Ireland Institute can now
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The following is a special editorial written by Irish News columnist, Roy Garland.


“If ever a community had a right to demonstrate against a denial of civil rights, Derry is the finest example.  A Roman Catholic and Nationalist city has for three or four decades been administered (and none too fairly administered) by a Protestant and Unionist majority secured by a manipulation of the ward boundaries for the sole purpose of retaining Unionist control”.


These words were written by former Attorney General and hard-line UUP MP, Edmond Warnock to Prime Minister Terence O’Neill in November 1968.  They seem to represent the clearest acknowledgement of past wrongs ever made by a senior Unionist.  David Trimble publicly stated that Northern Ireland was “a cold house for Catholics” but Warnock gave a blunt assessment of specific wrongs by the Unionist establishment.


Warnock developed a bad conscience in his later years and bombarded O’Neill with demands for change.  In another letter he recalls during the 1930s being consulted by former Unionist Prime Minister James Craig.  Craig defended gerrymandering on the grounds that the North’s “constitution was on a knife edge” and that State security was, “the supreme law”.  But boundary manipulation was intended for perhaps five rather than fifty-years.


Warnock wanted an amnesty for three nationalist politicians.  He was supported by Minister of Agriculture James Chichester-Clark who said, “So far the record had been one of too little conceded too late”.  They should now make “maximum concessions”, because Londonderry’s “grievances were real”.  But right-wingers and Young Unionists hounded O’Neill and Clark because any concession was seen by them as betrayal.


Warnock warned O’Neill that prosecuting nationalist politicians could prove “disastrous”.  The offensives were “relatively trivial” and convictions could give “new life” to Republicans and we could “be led to the brink of ruin”.  Warnock’s prophesy has been proven right.  He also recalled 50-years earlier leading his men in France when he learned that hostilities were about to end.  He mused, “how good it would be if hostilities could cease” in Northern Ireland.


Open hostilities have at last virtually ceased but sectarian animosity, on which hostility thrives, remains.  Inquiries continue but are unlikely to heal the wounds.  Someone dismissed the astronomical costs suggesting that saying sorry would be enough.  But saying sorry involves risks and it seems unlikely that people in either tradition or in Britain or the Republic are prepared for that.  Old self-serving narratives remain strong and always suggest that blame lies elsewhere.


Too many of us are ready at the drop of a hat, to castigate others and particularly those who are relatively unable to defend themselves.  But violence had a context and we were born into that context where bitterness flourished and demagogues specialized in fanning dying embers and raising ancestral voices demanding vengeance.


To say sorry would entail an acceptance that there was some validity in the other story and this would inevitably raise questions about our own myths and leave us feeling uncomfortable with what we have done, said or thought.


Former physical force nationalists had a vested interest in exaggerating wrongs and maintaining that the state was grievously illegitimate from the start.  Unionists in contrast have tended to minimize wrongs or deny them completely.  As always truth is the first casualty in war.


There were dirty tricks although the authorities also tried at times to change things but were hampered by those for whom change was betrayal or who were determined to make the system unworkable.  Neither side gave much credence to the other’s story.


Mutual apologies could help defuse the vestiges of sectarianism.  But hopes of genuine apologies and mutual forgiveness seem vain.  The myths that justify the unjustifiable are still too powerful.  We have not taken the need for radical change seriously and have assumed it was only necessary for the others to change.  But schools, churches, families, communities, politicians and people remain divided and it is surely the responsibility of everyone to take these matters more seriously to ensure that mutual understanding and forgiveness becomes possible.


If instead we pick over the bones trying to apportion blame we might find ourselves again in the realm of recrimination.  New generations need the tools that could enable them to understand the complexity and to critically re-examine the message of those who still present our past in black and white.  We must listen to each other as we re-examine that past.  Not in order to find ammunition with which to accuse others but to understand precisely what our own responsibilities are.

- Roy Garland

Irish News 2009




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Ireland’s unemployment rate is now 12.2 percent, according to the latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office this month.

The country has not seen this level of joblessness since April 1995, and 435,735 are now signing on for the dole (unemployment benefits), which represents an 83 percent hike in the past 12 months.

Ireland’s economic woes have been well documented. The collapse of the real estate market and the country’s high labor costs have been at the heart of the problem, with the unraveling of the Irish banking system adding to the nation’s woes.

The heaviest job losses have occurred in the construction industry, which once contributed close to 10 percent of the workforce.

The manufacturing industry has also suffered, with the spiraling costs of competition forcing many multinationals to close or scale down their Irish plants in favor of locations with cheaper labor costs.
Though the rate of unemployment is not rising as fast as it had been, it could hit 13 percent before year's end and some economists have predicted the figure to rise as high as 15 percent during 2010.

The record level of joblessness in the Ireland was recorded in December 1985, when 17.3 percent of the workforce was unemployed.



Global investment in clean energy reached record levels of US$148bn, and the Irish Government has plans to position Ireland at the center of innovation in this field, it emerged this month.

Addressing the Economist Business Roundtable, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD said that Ireland has a 40pc target for renewable energy over the next 12 years.

He said the country’s abundance of natural resources will be pivotal in putting it at the heart of developments in this area.

“The energy challenges we face are intimately tied to the availability of fossil fuels and climate change,” he told business and government leaders. “Part of the answer to both of these challenges lies in a strategic retreat away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.”

Minister Ryan said the current Government has prioritised this retreat in its economic planning.
The move towards clean energy could also be a good indicator of where major technology industry players are placing their money, with players like Google, Microsoft and IBM already revealing a passionate interest in the area.

“Where there is retreat from the old ways, there are opportunities for the new. The Government is positioning Ireland as a center for sustainable economic growth.”

Minister Ryan said that last year, global investment in clean energy reached record levels of US$148bn – 60pc higher than in 2006.

According to New Energy Finance, investment between now and 2030 is expected to reach US$450bn a year.

“Performance in this sector during 2007 shows it is on track to reach these levels. The current financial turmoil has tested the market’s resolve, but has not dislodged it from this sector.”

Minister Ryan said Ireland has some of the finest natural energy resources in the world. “We have a Government committed to realizing this potential. We have a 40pc target for renewable energy over the next 12 years, government incentives and support, a functioning all-island electricity system and plans for further interconnection to the UK and beyond.
“In these times of turmoil, investment should look for stable returns. Energy and Ireland are a safe, long-term bet.

“This Government is planning our economic recovery and we want future growth to be sustainable. The green economy will provide us with the jobs, investment and energy security of the future,” Ryan said.



All parts of the UDA organization have agreed to complete the decommissioning process before the final deadline is reached in February

The commitments cover the four UDA Belfast “brigades” — the breakaway faction in south-east Antrim, and the part of the mainstream group under the leadership of Billy McFarland in north Antrim/Londonderry. 

A two-page report by General John deChastelain’s team also says the Commission believes it has “completed the decommissioning of UVF/RHC (Red Hand Commando) arms”. 

The Commission reports that these groups decommissioned “substantial quantities of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices”. 

“The UVF and RHC representatives said that some of their arms had been lost over the years through seizure by the security services, deterioration or damage or the death of those responsible for them,” the report reads. 

“They said the arms decommissioned under our supervision in June comprised all that was under the control of both organisations.” 

The deChastelain team confirmed that last week they met with the leaders of all five mainstream UDA brigades. 

It was reported that Billy McFarland attended that meeting, but that he and another representatives of the loyalist organization in north Antrim/Londonderry also held separate talks with General deChastelain and his colleagues, Andrew Sens and Tauno Nieminen. 
It means the decommissioning process will now continue to the final deadline of next February. 

A senior loyalist paramilitary leader told the Belfast Telegraph he wants the UDA to complete the decommissioning process before the end of this calendar year.

The source described the report as “straightforward” — and on commitments made by the UDA, he said: “It’s a time for integrity. 
“There is no reason not to (complete decommissioning). 
“I would hope it would be done before the end of this year.” 



Thousands of unsold private houses and apartments that are lying idle around the country are to be used for social housing.

The plan is part of a scheme announced today by the Irish Council for Social Housing in Athlone.

Under the €20m initiative, the Government will allow housing associations to provide social housing through long-term leasing of unsold vacant units in the private market and from local authorities' unsold stock.

The group also made an appeal to Minister for Environment John Gormley ahead of the debate on the National Asset Management Agency.

They called for new measures that would allow for the long-term leasing of thousands of vacant new homes to be also included in the National Assets Management Agency legislation when it comes before the Dáil.


The Government has announced that some migrants from outside the EU who have lost work in Ireland are to be offered temporary permits to seek employment. The scheme will be open to those who have previously held a work permit but became undocumented through no fault of their own.

This scheme will not apply to those made redundant because of the recession or to those whose contracts have ended.

The announcement was welcomed by the Migrant Rights Center Ireland (MRCI) who have campaigned for a 'Bridging Visa' scheme.

MRCI Director Siobhan O'Donoghue said the move was the first step towards regularising an 'estimated 30,000 undocumented persons in Ireland'.

Successful applicants will be granted a temporary period of residence of four months within which to reapply for an employment permit.







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Irish people urgently need to pull together says former Irish president Mary Robinson.

She was speaking to a group of young Irish professionals from the IN-NYC organization at the Irish consulate in Manhattan.

A self-confessed optimist, Robinson said that the Celtic Tiger had pushed Irish people apart.

“Some people were getting unbelievably rich and many others were not. That divide was beginning to become something that was beginning to get under peoples skin,” she said.

Looking ahead to Ireland’s future, Robinson said she feels “now that the bubble has burst” the country will revert back to how it behaved in the early 90’s.

“That community strength during the 90s was tremendous and then we got a little selfish so it would be nice to have that back again,” she added. “I remember when I was out looking for votes during the 90s I felt a strong sense of community.

People helped each other out. They got things done. If Dublin wasn’t doing it for them then they would do it for themselves and I have a strange feeling that’s how it’s going to be in the future in Ireland,” she said.

But, she said, it was important to remember that Ireland was still in a much better situation than it was 10 years ago. “We are still very much further forward than we were 10 years ago and will be. We haven’t gone back in negative terms,” said Robinson.

She cited infrastructure, education, technology sector and environment advancements as areas to look to for hope and positive developments.

And she said that the Irish Diaspora would play an extremely important role in Ireland’s future.

She predicted that the post-crash atmosphere in Ireland would make people more aware of the potential of the Diaspora.

Also touching on the undocumented in the Irish the U.S., Robinson said it was imperative the issue get sorted sooner rather than later as it was a human rights issue for those who are left in limbo.


Ireland’s economic woes have people on their knees in search of spiritual renewal at "St. Patrick’s Purgatory."

With the collapse of the global economy hurting almost everyone, people around the world have been forced to re-prioritize what is important in life, and the Irish are no different. 

But Ireland is able to provide its sons and daughters with the perfect location to reflect on what matters most. There are no nightclubs, wi-fi zones or triple mocha lattes to divert one’s attention on Lough Derg, where the shrine is located. There is nature, calm and quiet – and it is attracting people in droves.

“Lough Derg has been around for 1,500 years, it is something that has been tried and tested, unlike all the recent quick paths to prosperity. Now that the recession has hit, people are keen to revert back to something that is solid and traditional and Irish,” Deborah Maxwell, manager of Lough Derg, told Irish Central Friday.

“Unfortunately, some people have a lot more time on their hands given the possibility that they have lost work. People are fed up with things that were almost ships in the night, whereas people know Lough Derg from their family and ancestors before them. There is an opportunity for them to refocus and come back to what is at the essence of their lives.”

Lough Derg is one of the world’s oldest pilgrimage sites, and has offered sanctuary to those in need for centuries. It is located four miles off the coast of Donegal, and the pligrimage season runs from May 20 to August 15.

The three-day pilgrimage, which costs about $71, involves staying awake for a 24-hour period, fasting, walking barefoot and saying nine stations prayers.

Though clearly it helps to have a strong faith to undertake the pilgrimage, it is not a prerequisite.

“Every pilgrim that comes has a different motivation," said Maxwell.

"There are those that are coming for the penitential aspect of the pilgrimage, but there are many that are coming, and we did a big study on this in 2006, that are coming to seek time for renewal, time for reflection and in doing that in slowing down and getting the opportunity to know themselves a little better.”

Maxwell went on to say that she has noticed many pilgrims who used to come 30 years ago returning this year, another reflection of the effect of the recession on bringing people back to what matters, and that there is a marked increase in the number of men who come to the island for the retreat.

“It used to be almost 80 percent female, 20 percent male going back many, many years, but that has change to 65-35,” she said.

“We have an 81-year-old woman out there today,” continued Maxwell. “It’s everything from groups of young men, young professionals, to family units. And many will come as individuals.”






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The Cork-Kerry rivalry can lay claim to be the greatest rivalry in Gaelic football. As the nearest of neighbors these two teams are also the fiercest of rivals.


In spite of an almost annual meeting in the Munster Senior Football Championship, interest in the clash of these two teams has endured over the last 120 years.


Kerry are the most successful team in the history of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, leading the all-time roll of honor with thirty-five titles.


Cork, in comparison, have only won six All-Ireland titles.


Both teams face each other on Sunday 27th to decide the 122nd All-Ireland Senior Men's Football Final.



Meanwhile, Kilkenny created a piece of history with a fourth successive All-Ireland Senior Hurling title following a memorable decider at Croke Park a week ago.

The Cats became only the second county to put four titles back to back, joining the great Cork team of the 1940s in an elite club.

Late goals from Henry Shefflin and substitute Martin Comerford finally killed off the heroic efforts of a Tipp side that looked for long periods that they were going to end the reign of Brian Cody's side.

A crowd of 82,106 was treated to one of the best All-Ireland finals in years, and at the end of it all, the Cats were acclaimed as one of the greatest teams of all time, if not the greatest.

Tipp had to play almost 20 minutes with 14 men following the dismissal of Benny Dunne, and their resolve was finally broken in the final stages, when the goals shattered their hearts in the 63rd and 64th minutes.

Eoin Kelly's 0-13 was not enough to send the Liam McCarthy Cup on a trip to Munster. 

Instead it was a 1-08 tally from Henry Shefflin that proved decisive, ensuring that the prized silver remains the property of the people of Kilkenny.


The final score was Kilkenny 2:22 Tipperary 0:23...a difference of 5points!


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, please contact Robert Tierney at or phone (412) 394-3900.





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Our Mission:



Help the Institute:


September 10 – 26


Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, Crime and Punishment’ at

the Henry Heymann Theatre, 412.561.6000. 

Tickets: ProArtsTickets at 412.394.3353, online

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.

Friday, September 18

AOH Division 4, North Hills are sponsoring their 2nd Annual Irish Heritage Classic at ‘Pittsburgh National Golf Club’ in Gibsonia PA.  Registration / Lunch 11:30AM; benefits the Tuition Assistance Fund.  Information: Patrick Regan 412.338.1123 or Bob Parry 724.933.0427

Sunday, September 27th

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh present Peace Activist and Singer Songwriter Tommy Sands in Concert at the Harp & Fiddle. Doors open at 6PM. Show starts at 7PM. Tickets available directly from the Harp & Fiddle or by calling the Ireland Institute on 412-394-3900. For more information call us or check out

Saturday, October 3

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.



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  -

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      

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.