The Irish American Democrats group held its inauguration ball Irish style in support of newly elected President Barack Obama at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night. The founder and president of Irish American Democrats, Stella O'Leary told the Irish Voice during the cocktail hour, "We will have cocktails and dinner at seven and we are expecting Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, former President Bill Clinton and several congressional members, including Congressmen Richie Neal and Joe Crowley. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will be here for cocktails." Asked if she believed the Obama administration would be attentive to Irish affairs, O' Leary replied emphatically. "We are meeting with the Obama transition tomorrow morning. President Obama has an ethnic outreach office and staff in place and we will meet with them at the Marriott on Connecticut Avenue. We have a meeting from 10 a.m. to noon. They are encouraging us to submit names of our ethic groups for positions in the administration," she said. Asked if she believes that Obama would champion Irish affairs in the same way the Clinton administration did, O'Leary said, "We will be going directly to the White House rather than the State Department which we had been doing under the two Bush administrations. He will be moving all of the people we suggest back into the White House." Father James J. Reilly, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows from North Jersey, said he attends all the inaugurations. "Thirty-six years of inaugurals and I'm thrilled this time because it's the first ever Irish American inaugural ball. I cross lines and I go to all of the inaugurations. It's the greatest celebrations in American public life and I always love to be part of it," he said. Member of the Council on American Ireland Relations Brian O'Dwyer, the noted New York attorney said, "The Irish played a very large part in the election victory of Barack Obama and we know we will be paid back for it." Canon Stephan Neill, of Moneygall, Co. Offaly was invited to the ball by O'Leary because of the ancestral links between the new president and Moneygall. "He was descended from Moneygall six generations back. His descendents left in 1850. We were invited because of the links and I'm very much a supporter," Neill said. The ball was a sellout, with hundreds of Irish American revelers set to toast Obama well into the night.
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