Senator Mark Daly, the Fianna Fail spokeperson for the Irish Overseas, has written to the chairman of the All Party education committee of the Irish parliament to demand that Trina Vargo, head of the US Ireland Alliance, appear before the committee.
Daly wants an investigation into how Irish taxpayer money is being spent by Vargo and also to question her on attacks she made on Irish leader Enda Kenny and Irish Americans at the White House last week.
The US-Ireland Alliance administers the Mitchell Scholarship fund, much of it Irish taxpayer money, and former US Senator George Mitchell plays a leading role in the organization.
In a related development, several signatories to a congressional letter requesting funding for the Mitchell Scholarship program, are said to be reconsidering their support after the Vargo outburst which was made on her blog on the US-Ireland Alliance site.
Why is Senator George Mitchell allowing anti-Irish American vitriol and ridicule?
Vargo criticized the gift of an Irish Heritage certificate to President Obama by Kenny and stated, “The shop in Shannon Airport must have been out of leprechaun dolls and chunks of the auld so.”
Over 300 Irish leaders, including Senator Daly, attended the White House event and many were shocked that the Alliance head used the occasion to attack the Prime Minister and the gift.
"I’m from an opposition party,” Daly told Irish Central, “but I was shocked and disgusted at the cheap attack. She is supposed to be promoting Irish and American links, here she is slamming an Irish leader.”
Vargo also attacked Irish Americans saying most Irish people were “horrified” by them saying, “During this week it is always people from Ireland and Northern Ireland who tell me how horrified they are by the shamrockery, and they’re right, it’s embarrassing."
"The Irish are just so grateful for the attention that they grit their teeth, take it, and then laugh at the Yanks at the end of the night. Ireland gives us what they think we want and clearly some still do.”
The organization is down to receive $20 million in matching funding from hard-pressed Irish taxpayers over the next few years and Vargo is currently circulating a congressional petition seeking to have the American taxpayer pay an additional $5 million in order to trigger more Irish taxpayer money.
Former senator George Mitchell is lobbying members on Capitol Hill strongly for the money.
Staffers for one leading Irish American politician on Capitol Hill has strongly criticized the manner in which Mitchell has gone about lobbying directly for the funds.
“George Mitchell is a hero of the peace process but he is damaging his reputation strong arming politicians on this,” one irate staffer stated.
Daly also stated Vargo’s salary needed to be examined. "In light of her reported $175,000 us salary part of which is paid by the Irish taxpayer I am sure the members of the committee would like to know what she does for the money and if, in light of the current Irish economic situation, she intends to take a pay reduction."
Daly stated, "Ms Vargo for all her political experience seems to have nothing good to say about the Taoiseach, virtually anyone in the Department of Foreign Affairs, every one in Ireland and all of Irish America."
Senator Daly believes that Ms Vargo should issue an apology to all of the above. "One would have to wonder what was behind this recent outburst.”
“Ms Vargo should also apologize to the Taoiseach for the suggestions in her recent statement after she attended the White House for the St Patrick’s Day event."
Senator Daly is also calling for some of the $20 million to be reallocated to help provide skills training to the Irish unemployed or to help provide "seed funding" for start ups being put together by Irish universities for students that will help to create jobs in Ireland.
"This entire project needs to be re-examined,” he stated.