An Irish Voice 25 years later - New York newspaper celebrates major anniversay
The Irish Voice newspaper celebrates a quarter of a century
The measure of a newspaper is how has it covered the community it seeks to represent, how has it faced the major issues of the day that the community faces, and has it been successful in delivering positive change on those issues?
By that yardstick the Irish Voice has done a pretty decent job, we feel, over the past quarter century since our inception.
This newspaper, the first successful weekly launched since the Irish Echo in 1928, was originally founded because a massive flood of young Irish, the vast majority undocumented, had begun to stream into the U.S., fleeing the latest economic downturn in Ireland.
Nothing new in that, but this generation, unlike those in the last great wave in the 1950s, were undocumented and thus in far worse shape.
After the initial period of settling down, those same immigrants began to realize just how confined their undocumented status made them.
The Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) was founded, composed in the main of undocumented young Irish.
The Irish Voice played a leading role in covering the organization and went far beyond that in lining up major support for the group across a wide range of political, business and community leaders.
Our editorials almost every week at the time made the point of the incredible unfairness that had locked the Irish out of America since the bigoted 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
When the Donnelly and Morrison visas legalized thousands of the Irish we all rightly celebrated. It was a huge if temporary victory.
In more recent years as the immigration issue has bubbled up again and more are coming given the latest economic crisis in Ireland, the Irish Voice has also been to the forefront of the push by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform to secure a decent visa program for the Irish.
We make no apologies for that. Lots of other countries have signed notable sweetheart deals for special visa preferences from the U.S. government. We are almost alone in not having one among the major emigrant countries.
That fight remains to be won, but we certainly take pride in our part in the American role in the Irish peace process which was kick-started from these very offices.
The first inkling of the new initiative from America was carried in this newspaper when we reported on the Irish American peace delegation, which negotiated for a first visa for Gerry Adams to come to America in 1994.
When Adams came it was the biggest story we ever broke or covered, and the Sinn Fein leader has since pointed out that without the visa the subsequent IRA ceasefire might never have happened.
Nowadays all is much quieter on the Northern front, and long may it continue. The long cherished ambition for Irish America to play a role, which we wrote about in our very first editorial, has come to pass.
So when a question is put as to what the Irish Voice did in the war, or indeed in the immigration battle, we believe we can say we played our part and did our duty.
That more than anything makes us proud of being a community newspaper for so many Irish over the two and a half decades.
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