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Boston Irish Commentary

Eight ways to help Ireland build a strong, happy future

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 29, 2014

For many Irish Americans the key to a strong future for Ireland is the strength and creative energy of its educational system. A highly educated population and work force not only attracts inward investment but it also generates innovation, new ideas, and happier, more informed lives for Irish people. Read more

Evolution surely is making us smarter; but what about what makes us human?

By Anonymous, August 1, 2014

Will evolution keep pace with the challenges we face, or will inequality, global warming, population, and pollution overwhelm us? Right now it seems we are losing the battle.

There is ample evidence that evolution is an ongoing process. The advances in science, technology, and production over the last century are obvious. Some progress is also evident in civil rights, tolerance, and social justice. We are getting smarter, but are we getting better? Read more

Introducing the Irish Legacy Society, a way to keep on giving back to Ireland

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 1, 2014

After 27 years in existence, the Irish American Partnership is announcing a new opportunity for men and women of Irish heritage to give something back to the small island their ancestors left to come to America. The creation of an Irish American Partnership endowment fund named The Irish Legacy Society will help preserve and strengthen the Partnership and its ability to help Ireland well into the future. Read more

When compromise is seen as hypocrisy, governance by democracy is impossible

By Anonymous, July 2, 2014

There was a time in Washington when politics was the means to an end. The end was governing. The messy process of politics was applied to gain office and then to develop and secure passage of legislation that reflected a public policy consensus.

Politics was the dark side of good governance. Its tools were influence, cajoling, trade-offs, favors, intimidation, patronage and pork that often produced good results when applied to a noble purpose. It was the means to achieve the enactment of the Constitution and laws that have made this a prosperous and compassionate nation. Read more

July in Belfast often means marching to taunt; where is Unionist leadership?

By Anonymous, July 2, 2014

The month of July marks the most difficult time of the year for Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city. It is in the seventh month that the Protestant community, led by the notorious Orange Order, annually renews the famous “marching season,” sending loud and boisterous bands and Orange Order members matching into Catholic communities where they pass in front of Catholic churches. Read more

OF GREED AND GREENS Two recent deals have Irish eyes here and there scowling and smiling

By By Peter F. Stevens, special to the BIR, July 2, 2014

By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff
The deal is completely legal. Medical-device titan Medtronic will soon complete a $42.9 billion deal to gobble up Massachusetts-based outfit Covidien. The swollen pact benefits Ireland’s economy, pays off big for two companies’ executives and stockholders, and will purportedly allow Medtronic to pump some $10 billion into research and development in the US. The deal, however, contains one aspect that raises questions about the continuing offshore tactics of American companies finding ways to set up shop overseas to wriggle out of paying taxes here in the States. Read more

Life with the Jesuit fathers: a recollection

By Tom Mulvoy, Associate Editor, special to the BIR, May 30, 2014

Serenity rules over the ample space where neatly placed rows upon rows of plain-looking gravestones, some 750 in all, mark the final resting places of dedicated men who in the long ago invited me into their learning circle and helped steer my young self through the shoals of adolescence and early adulthood as I made my way to who I was meant to be. Read more

Let us praise Boston College

By JOE LEARY, SPECIAL TO THE BIR, special to the BIR, May 30, 2014

Contrary to some of the criticism directed their way recently, Boston College and its Center for Irish Programs deserve great praise for the courage and good will they have created with multifaceted programs in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Notre Dame, Harvard, Boston University, and many other universities have active Irish programs, but none with the breadth and influence of Boston College. Read more

Weak Unionist leaders allow for organized crime, extreme voices

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, May 1, 2014

April was quite a month in Northern Ireland. Despite the best efforts of Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Queen Elizabeth II to increase understanding between Ireland and the UK, serious problems occurred in the North, including rioting, racist attacks, and petty sectarian speeches. Read more

All in all, it was a good month of March in Boston

By Ed Forry, April 1, 2014

By Joe Leary
Special to the BIR

It was exciting, exhausting, and troubling at the same time!
For most of us who were born in Ireland or whose families emigrated from Ireland, much of each March has been the focused of the many events celebrating our heritage. Formal dinners, Mass at the Cathedral, parades, visitors from Ireland, and even a bit of controversy enlivened the whole month.Despite the fact that Irish Americans achieved leadership positions throughout our society many years ago, some still rely on exaggerated stereotypical images to profit from Saint Patrick’s Feast Day celebrations. Read more

Prayer for our union: ‘Give love a chance’

By Ed Forry, February 27, 2014

The president is at the podium as the applause subsides. He looks across the array of faces before him, a gathering of many of the most powerful people in the country, and he speaks.
“Ladies and gentlemen I come before you today with a different message. Not what you would expect at this forum where normally you hear a litany of problems and proposed solutions. I am one of a long line of presidents who have delivered those easily forgotten messages. Read more

Our Irish heritage – an inspiring,yet tragic, story about a mystery chair

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

As we celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our Irish heritage, it is natural to reflect on the lives of our ancestors, their sacrifices that brought us to Boston, and the later sacrifices they made to make a life for themselves and those who followed them.
I hope you will forgive me; this is a very personal story. Read more

For Irish American Partnership, 2013 was truly a year to remember

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

Public documents to be filed with the IRS and many state agencies throughout the United States reveal that The Irish American Partnership headquartered here in Boston raised nearly $900,000 in the year 2013, a 25 percent increase over 2012.
Expenses were less than 20 percent, allowing for more than $700,000 to be sent to education and community groups in Ireland. The Partnership concentrates its support on smaller schools in rural Ireland, with a focus on school library building and science teaching materials. Read more

Blurring history with hagiography

By Ed Forry, January 31, 2014

A look at a controversial politician and a remarkable cleric
reveals the difference between real history and hazy history

The Microsoft ad is both slick and moving – but there’s one note in it that likely rankles a great many Irish Americans, not to mention the Irish in both the Republic and the North. The ad, in conjunction with the company’s search engine, Bing, touts remarkable women, with the presentation set to a musical backdrop of the hit ballad “Brave,” by Sara Bareilles. No one can dispute that the valiant Afghan teen Malala Yousafzai and the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – survivors both of an assassins’ bullets – deserve every bit of acclaim in the ad, or anywhere else. To see both of them juxtaposed with Margaret Thatcher, however, lies somewhere between incongruous and jarring. The “Iron Lady” – really? Read more

‘Expendables’ and the 21st century

By Ed Forry, January 31, 2014

At one time, I decried the size of government, its costs and inefficiencies. On further reflection, I have come to the conclusion the “common good” may require the acceptance of large numbers of public sector workers who, in the private sector, would be expendable.
The purposes and functions of government and business are different. Given these differences, it is wrong to expect government to apply the same standards as the private sector. Each has its strengths and weaknesses which can only be evaluated within the context of the tasks each is designed to perform. Read more