There was a deep sigh of relief in the Irish American community in New York on Monday when the much-anticipated findings by the New York State Attorney General Letitia James on the status of the American Irish Historical Society (AIHS) became available.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and her team clearly took their time and did a deep dive into the workings of the AIHS, and came up with a forward-thinking plan to institute a new board and keep the AIHS building on 991 Fifth Avenue in Irish hands.
Fortunately, the findings remove, hopefully forever, the notion that the AIHS does not have a home in New York City.
The bizarre plan by the previous board to move the AIHS to Cooperstown in upstate New York, and sell the existing building for $44 million, has been decisively dealt with and dismissed.
The role of the Irish government in the attorney general’s investigation was a valuable one reflecting the huge importance of the Fifth Avenue headquarters of the AIHS to the Irish community in America.
By appointing an interim board which began its work on Monday, James has succeeded in creating a leadership group that will hopefully guide the AIHS toward a full resumption of its programs and events.
James obviously took note of the massive reaction in the Irish American community to the plan to sell the Fifth Avenue landmark, the greatest Irish building in America. More than 40,000 people made clear through an online petition that they strongly disagreed with a sale and the direction that the previous leadership had taken the AIHS, a quite incredible number.
The big question, of course – is what’s next for the AIHS? The interim board is fully focused on establishing a new permanent board and will work from a six-month timetable to make that happen.
This is exactly the kind of oversight the AIHS needed. It seems that much brighter days are ahead for the AIHS, and it’s about time.
*This editorial first appeared in the December 21 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.