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Doug Campbell, Brand Director of Guinness, Diageo, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) Imelda May, and Niall O'Dowd. Photo by: Nuala Purcell

Irish raise a Guinness glass to Senator Chuck Schumer (PHOTOS)

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Doug Campbell, Brand Director of Guinness, Diageo, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) Imelda May, and Niall O'Dowd. Photo by: Nuala Purcell

PHOTOS - Guinness and IrishCentral say thank you to NY Senator

It is nice to say thank you, especially when the person thanked has given their all.

On Thursday night 120 Irish leaders in New York gathered at the aptly named Fitzgerald Ballroom at the Affinia Hotel to say thank you and raise a Guinness glass to Senator Chuck Schumer.

The most popular politician in New York State and one of the key political figures in America deserved our thanks.

For the last nine months Guinness and IrishCentral have saluted American heroes across the US with a “Raise Your Glass Salute.”

These included events for Boston first responders to the marathon bombing, a Hurricane Sandy event, which honored firemen and cops who risked their lives, and most recently in San Francisco where we jointly honored Chuck Feeney the Irish American philanthropist described by Warren Buffet as his hero.

It was an easy choice when it came to Senator Schumer. Schumer has been a profile in courage on the political stage.

Almost single-handedly he drove an immigration bill through the US Senate, which at one point looked like it would force the most profound change in immigration since the 1965 Act, which effectively barred the Irish.

Unlike the White House, who rarely if ever reach out to the Irish on this issue, Schumer had the Irish on board from day one for a wild ride that ended when Speaker John Boehner decided that he lacked the political will to pass a similar bill in the House.

PHOTOS - Guinness and IrishCentral say thank you to NY Senator

Chuck Schumer showed how to get bipartisan legislation passed in the senate. The vote on his bill was 68 to 32 and was a singular triumph.

But even the day after the House decided on no action on the bill Schumer was back, down at the entrance to New York harbor with Ellis Island in the distance and Cardinal Timothy Dolan beside him vowing he would lead the fight next year and the year after for better lives for immigrants.

This man will never give up.

Little wonder he got a standing ovation and a pumped up “Raise Your Glass” salute from Irish leaders present.

There is a reason Schumer is New York’s most popular politician. He gets it when immigrants need help; he gets it when the battle has to be fought not just for the high and mighty but the ordinary guy too. He promised he would continue to fight for immigration reform in the new senate every day. Unlike with most politicians we can believe him. He spoke movingly of his grandfather, who was a street urchin in his childhood, his father a pest exterminator and how he, a kid from a working class neighborhood, ended up at Harvard and one of the most powerful men in America.

He was followed to the stage by Imelda May the working class Dublin chanteuse who belted out a wonderful performance that got the crowd buzzing and hopping.

It was that kind of night. One to remember at the height of summer, and a nod and acknowledgement for a great politician and friend of the Irish who went a long way.

PHOTOS - Guinness and IrishCentral say thank you to NY Senator

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