The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will present Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) grants to 15 applicants on Saturday, August 28, in a live webinar broadcast from the Houben Centre located on the grounds of Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, Belfast.
The presentations will feature grant recipients speaking to Hibernians across the United States about each group's work and how much they count on American help. The webinar broadcast will begin at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time and 5 pm in Ireland.
Each year, the AOH and Ladies AOH make a Christmas appeal to raise funds for grants to groups working for freedom for all Ireland. This year, members of the AOH and LAOH set a new record with members contributing more than $100,000, despite a pandemic.
It is especially significant that the broadcast will come from the grounds of Holy Cross, where 20 years ago Catholic girls were subjected to a vicious campaign of sectarian abuse on their way to attend the primary school. The Houben Centre has been a major recipient of FFAI support.
Others awarded grants this year are the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign, which won its 50 year battle for an inquest, and the Bloody Sunday Trust, which will mark its 50th anniversary in January. Groups fighting for legacy truth were led by Relatives for Justice and the Witness Project. The EALU center was awarded a grant for its work with Republican ex-political prisoners in Tyrone.
A heritage grant was awarded to the St. Patrick Centre. As we mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikers, Belfast National Graves and Tyrone National Graves were awarded grants.
Green Cross, Duchas-Oriall, Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Bridges Beyond Boxing, Down Patriot Graves and the O’Neill-Allsop Memorial Band will also be grant recipients.
Before last year, awards presentations were only seen by Hibernian officers and members able to travel to Ireland. In what AOH National President Danny O'Connell termed a "history-making first,” Hibernians across America heard speakers representing each grant explain their work.
The broadcast will include O'Connell and LAOH National President Karen Keane, and FFAI chairs Martin Galvin and Dolores Desch.
Galvin, who is traveling to Belfast to deliver the grants said, “This past year presented unprecedented challenges for Hibernians in fundraising for Christmas appeal grants as well as in our political and public awareness campaigns for freedom for all Ireland. Hibernians across the country were determined not to let these groups down. The AOH and LAOH responded with a record-shattering year, not only in the Christmas appeal but in new political initiatives.
Galvin added, “The new levels of Irish American support by Hibernians and other Irish American groups are inspired by the work being done by these grant recipients among others.
“This year, because of British plans take away any legal path to legacy justice, the webinar must include a special appeal to support legacy justice and the ongoing Congressional initiative sign-on now be circulated in Congress.”
*This report first appeared in the August 25 edition of the Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.