Intelligencer5 - 11 Nov 2008

Gallagher To Retire

DERMOT Gallagher, head of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, announced his retirement last week, ending a spectacular diplomatic career that took in major stints here in the U.S.

Gallagher was at the helm of the Irish Embassy in Washington during the glory years of the American intervention in Northern Ireland led by President Bill Clinton.

He proved himself a very astute diplomat who outmaneuvered the British Embassy on several occasions during that extraordinary time.

A wrong step at the time might well have ended the American involvement in the peace process, but Gallagher proved himself an astute reader of the mood in Washington and ensured that Ireland's support for the breakthrough Gerry Adams visa was expressed in clear and concrete terms to the administration.

Gallagher's reward was the top job back in Dublin, where he assisted several leaders in pursuit of the Holy Grail of the peace process.

He was a constant player during that period, providing an institutional memory and insights to each new politician who became involved in the issue.

Gallagher came of age at an amazing period for Irish diplomacy, with the entry into the European Union greatly adding to the workload of the Irish diplomatic corps, the peace process and the global engagement in issues such as world hunger.

Suffice to say that in every arena he distinguished himself and made his mark in each posting. A native of Leitrim and a fanatical follower of that team's fortunes, Gallagher is hardly likely to retire to the golf links just yet.

Like other former diplomats there are bound to be many business offers on the table to use his expertise.

Gallagher's Successor

THE new secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs will be announced next month according to reports, and it appears there is no clear frontrunner.

Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins is on the shortlist of candidates, according to the Irish media, as are Anne Anderson, ambassador to France, and seasoned diplomat Rory Montgomery.

Collins had been deeply involved in the peace process also and has created a good impression in his time in Washington. Anderson would be the first woman to hold the post, which may certainly be a consideration.

Other contenders may include Brendan Rogers and David Cooney, likewise two men with extensive experience in the diplomatic corps.

The decision will be made by Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, no doubt in consultation with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen.

With the Northern Ireland issue mostly resolved, the new person will not face the same kind of day to day crisis that faced his or her predecessor for several years.

However, issues such as the failed Lisbon referendum on an agreed constitution for Europe and the new administration in Washington will certainly occupy much of the time of the new leader.

President for Diaspora Forum

THE second annual U.S. Ireland Diaspora Forum will be held on the campus of University College Dublin on Monday, November 10.

Among the speakers this year will be Irish President Mary McAleese, as well as former Congressman Bruce Morrison, Irish American Republicans head Grant Lally and Emory University professor James Flannery.

Also speaking will be Conor O'Clery, former U.S. correspondent for The Irish Times, and David McWilliams, author of many articles on the need for Ireland to embrace its diaspora.

Last year the event was held in New York and hosted by Irish America magazine and the Irish Voice. Over 1,000 attended the day and a half event.

The presence of McAleese is certainly a major boost to the conference. She has been an outspoken spokeswoman on the importance of the diaspora, and she is expected to expand on that theme in her remarks.

More Irish Deported

MORE Irish people have been deported from the U.S. this year than the last two years, new research shows.

Journalist Conn Corrigan has dug up the numbers for The Irish Times which shows that so far this year, 58 have been deported as against a total of 53 in 2007 and 41 in 2006.

Though the numbers are very small in the scheme of things, it nonetheless shows that the immigration crackdown has had an impact even on the Irish community.

Since the aftermath 9/11 the Irish, like other undocumented, have been unable to acquire driver's licenses, which means they often have to show a passport for identification, which of course may reveal they are here illegally.

Many Irish have been picked up in close proximity to the Canadian or Mexican border, where border control agents often operate well outside the border area itself.

The figures underscore the urgent need to begin the immigration reform process again says Kelly Fincham, executive director of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

With a new president that may finally become a priority. If not, it is clear the Irish government will be needed to bring about action.

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