Ireland Left Out In Visas

THE annual list of successful applicants for the Schumer DV-1 diversity visas was released again this week, and it makes hard reading for anyone Irish and undocumented.

The Schumer diversity visas called after Senator Chuck Schumer from New York who created the scheme was an Irish American initiative back in the early 1990s after the death of the Morrison and Donnelly visa programs. The idea was that a percentage of visas would go to countries that currently have no access to America.

The view was that Ireland would benefit but by the time it was worked out in Congress Ireland was just one of over a hundred countries worldwide that could apply.

Of course the Irish were swamped out by other more populous nations which has led to the results every year which make us look foolish indeed for not insisting on a set-aside when the program was first mooted by us.

This year Ireland, north and south, got all of 206 visas, the proverbial drop in the bucket. Contrast that with Nigeria (9,849) Egypt (7,229), Ethiopia (6,871) and Morocco (4,922), not to mention Ukraine (7,205) and you get some sense of how an Irish initiative went badly wrong.

Now we have nothing against the residents of those other countries who have secured one of these valuable green cards, 50,000 which are distributed annually, but at some point it is hard to argue that their contribution to America has matched anything the Irish have given. Nonetheless, they are in a far better position to secure visas than Ireland is.

At the time the DV-1 visas were created the major debate in the community was about whether Northern Irish would get treated the same as Irish Republic citizens. The upshot is that they are - and neither group gets more than a handful of visas. Meanwhile, Nicaragua negotiated a 5,000 set-aside after Hurricane Mitch there, something that holds to this day.

At a time when emigration to Australia is taking off as the Irish economy slows, the Schumer diversity program could have been the ultimate way for the Irish to continue to access America. Perhaps it still can be if a determined effort is made to create a set-aside.

Rabbitte No Loss

THE departed head of Ireland's Labor Party, Pat Rabbitte, was a virtual unknown here in America, unlike his predecessors in that job Ruari Quinn and Dick Spring. In fact we can't remember him making a trip here as leader.

Rabbitte was from the anti-American wing of the party, the old Democratic Left rump which took control. His antipathy to America was ideologically driven.

In contrast, Quinn and Spring were huge advocates of America, and Spring has an American wife.

It will be interesting to see if Rabbitte's successor, who may well be Eamon Gilmore, is any more positive about the U.S.

Wuff Times For Dog Magazine

IT seems New York Dog magazine may be no more, and that Irish-born publisher John Ryan is facing a slew of lawsuits from staff members who claim they have not been paid.

New York Dog was Ryan's brainchild. Ryan came to New York from Dublin with a reputation as a high roller and magazine guru from Ireland, where he had worked for The Sunday Times among other publications and started several other well-known periodicals including VIP, the Irish equivalent of OK or Hello! magazines.

Once in New York Ryan decided to begin a dog magazine, given the millions of pet owners in the city. He soon started Hollywood Dog as well and the industry reviews were very good.

Clever front covers, including of course Paris Hilton and various other celebrities showing off their mutts, seemed to indicate the magazine had found a niche. Alas that was not the case.

Soon all was not well and the ventures appear to be in deep trouble now with reports that closure is imminent and that staff members have had checks bouncing.

Rumor has it another Irish connected publication is also experiencing similar financial difficulties with staff members complaining of checks bouncing, but as yet there is no official confirmation.

A New Take on Ireland

IF you want an interesting take on Ireland this issue of Conde Nast Traveler has a nine page piece by Irish American Kevin Doyle about his return to his roots.

Unlike the typical travel magazine piece, this one is actually quite mixed. Doyle had never been to Ireland before despite his roots, and he has a jaundiced look at many of the modern features which have made Ireland the Celtic Tiger.

He also lands in some unlikely spots, including at a transvestites public meeting in Dublin which doesn't really fit with the travel magazine usual profile.

He loves Donegal most of all, mainly because it is isolated enough that not too many tourists are making their way there and the locals have retained so many of the old ways.

However, Doyle is perceptive in his reading of the battle between the soul of modern Ireland and those who feel that the new country has forgotten and lost all the old traditional ways.

His conclusion? "Yet for all of Ireland's mad materialism and neo-capitalist swagger, elemental things - sea, lake, mountain, bog -are never far away, and it doesn't take long to sense the primal, ancient energy that suffuses this place." It's a piece well worth reading.