Who speaks for Irish America?
There is a fashionable set in Ireland that likes nothing better than to denigrate Irish Americans -- until it comes to their pocketbooks of course.
Already today, Tuesday, I have had two calls from Ireland from people hoping to fundraise over here from the same Irish Americans so many prefer to loathe.
Good luck to them, I say. They seem like good organizations, but I’ll look after our own side over here first.
Also this morning I received a sad letter from the Emerald Isle Center in Queens stating it may have to cut back services for Irish immigrants because of budget cuts at state and local level. Now there is an organization that deserves support.
The Irish Times has got in on the Irish America bashing act lately. Two recent articles -- one by former Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Sean Donlon, who rarely saw an Irish-American organization he didn’t instantly link to the IRA no matter how ridiculous that was, and another by neo-Unionist Niall Stanage -- professing the end of Irish America made the point very clearly. We are goners over here.
I responded to the latter article both here last week in the editorial and in the Irish Times. Thanks for the many expressions of support after the article ran, by the way.
Stanage, a part-time musician, is a product of Oxford University and Methodist College in Belfast, hardly familiar terrain for Irish Americans, but it appears he is now a self-styled expert on our community. Interesting, that.
He was not alone in slamming us. He wrote the article in the Times, and then Trina Vargo of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance e-mailed it to every major political figure in Ireland.
Vargo, a Portuguese American, intimated in her letter to the politicians that she agreed with Stanage that Irish America was dead and that her organization alone has the clout now -- though we can safely say that 99 percent of Irish Americans have never heard of it.
For your information it sends 12 well-heeled students from America to Ireland for a year, and also hosts a bash in Hollywood for all the Irish in-types out there.
That is the sum total of the alliance’s activities. It gets millions from Irish, U.S. and British taxpayers to do it. Interesting that -- while the Emerald Isle Center is pleading for money.
Now, however, the Alliance also professes to speak for Irish America along with the neo-Unionist Stanage. If it weren’t so ridiculous it would be funny.
If you go on the U.S.-Ireland Alliance Web site it’s interesting also. Its video was shot pre-Celtic Tiger collapse, so much of the very premise of it – i.e., Ireland is moving way ahead of Irish America, etc. -- falls flat.
Two of the major architects of the boom and bust, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and developer Derek Quinlan, are the two main cheerleaders for the Alliance. That video must have looked a lot better a few years ago.