AIF to Forego Irish Govt Grant

The American Ireland Fund, an organization that raises money for various charities operating in Ireland, has deferred the acceptance of €10 million from the Irish government, citing the need for the money to be kept in Ireland during these harsh economic times. American Ireland Fund President Kieran McLoughlin told the Irish Voice that the organization, which was set up in 1976 by Pittsburgh Steelers football chairman Dan Rooney and Irish businessman Tony O'Reilly to support peace and reconciliation projects across Ireland, has for over 30 years supported Ireland when it needed to be supported, so to accept the money at "a time when Ireland is in great need," would, said McLoughlin, "be a betrayal of that purpose." In 2006 the Irish government announced a €10 million monetary gift to be bestowed upon the American Ireland Fund in recognition of the $300 million they have raised for projects in Ireland since its establishment in 1976. To date, the American Ireland Fund, with 11 chapters worldwide, has supported more than 1, 200 non-profit organizations throughout Ireland in the past 33 years. However, as it became apparent that the Irish economy was plummeting at a fast pace, a decision was made to defer the €10 million gift until a later stage. At the beginning of January, AIF Chairman Loretta Brennan Glucksman wrote to Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen on behalf of the entire American Ireland Fund board requesting that he should defer the gift pledged by the Irish government in 2006. McLoughlin, president of the AIF for four years, explained that prior to writing the letter, Brennan Glucksman contacted all board members across the country. "They all agreed that it would run contrary to our purpose to seek the payment of the money at this time. Ireland's national interest is best served by doing all we can do to help shore up the public finances," said McLoughlin adding that the sobering economic climate in his home country - McLoughlin hails from Co. Dublin - had "deteriorated so dramatically since 2006 that we felt it was really our patriotic duty to make the sacrifice." Although a check had not yet been written for the amount, McLoughlin explains that legislation was in the process of being prepared for the monetary gift to be made. "We simply said to he government please stop the process," he added. The organization, privately run, has never received money from the Irish government in the past. Although the money has been deferred until a time when Ireland's economic state finds its feet again, McLoughlin assures that no AIF projects will suffer as a result.

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