Senator Mark Daly has questioned the actions and accuracy of the US-Ireland Alliance at the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting regarding the undocumented Irish.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Irish parliament met to discuss the use of Irish government funds and statements by US-Ireland Alliance President Trina Vargo who has made many comments critical of Irish Americans.
Daly stated that Vargo showed an “unwillingness to supply details on income and expenditure accounts to public accounts committee which is worrying”.
Daly also cliamed that Vargo was not supportive of the plight of undocumented Irish in the US.
“The stance taken by the President of the US Ireland Alliance Ms Trina Vargo is contrary to the Irish government’s attempts to secure visas for undocumented Irish in the United States. Her view that no effort should be made to secure a deal for the undocumented Irish unquestionably hinders the current Irish Government’s efforts,” Daly said.
“When I put it to her, she was unable to substantiate her recent comments in The Village magazine regarding the number of undocumented Irish in the US. It is important that anyone involved in this debate ensures that the figures they quote are accurate. Misquoting a figure by 40,000 is unacceptable for somebody purporting to represent the interests of US-Ireland relations.”
“Secondly,Ms Vargo continuously referred to third parties in her address to the committee, including the Irish Ambassador to the United States. The chairman persistently asked her to cease such action. Ms Vargo also requested for the meeting to take place in a private sitting, ensuring that no record of her answers would be taken.”
“Ms Vargodeclined to indicate whether or not she would accede to my request that the US-Ireland Alliance income and expenditure accounts, including all itemised expenses from the last five years, be made available to the chair of the public accounts committee. This follows concerns over the expenditure of nearly $200,000 on an event in LA to coincide with the Oscars.
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“I offered Ms Vargo the opportunity to apologise for comments attributed to her, comments which are insulting to the 40 million Irish Americans, the 5 million people on this island, our 295,000 civil servants and our department of foreign affairs. Here are some of those comments:
‘‘Some cute hoor spin being put out by the Irish Film Board... Mr O’Donnchu seems to forget he is not giving me money. It is sponsorship for an event... and it’s not ‘his’ money, it’s the Irish tax payer’s money... My personal experience leaves me feeling the Irish taxpayer is too often ill-served by too many (not all) civil servants’’ February 24th, 2012.
“The Irish as so grateful for the attention that they grit their teeth, take it’’ March 2012.
‘’Irish Americans can be just as bad. During the week, it is always people from Irelandand Northern Irelandwho tell me how horrified they are by the sham rockery and they are right, it’s embarrassing.’’ March 2012.
‘’They are wrong to single out one group for preferential treatment’’ November 2007.
“Ireland’s national aversion to truth telling is part of the reason for its current difficulties’’ March 14th 2011.
“There is a culture of dependency in Northern Ireland’’
Daly concluded: “As a representative of an organisation that seeks to ‘consolidate the existing relationship between the US and Ireland’, Ms Vargo’s comments do little to promote her organisation and the fostering of US-Ireland relations.”