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Boston Irish Commentary

When Northern Ireland was at war Remembering can help prevent future horror

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, December 2, 2013

The tragedy of the people of Northern Ireland killing each other was memorialized this past October by the families and friends of the 18 victims who died 20 years ago in two of the most tragic atrocities in the North’s difficult history.

Today, as American observers sometimes become frustrated by the sporadic rioting and slow progress on agreement on nearly everything in Northern Ireland, we should recognize that going back to the old days is not an option. Interested Irish Americans should have patience and always focus on improving the hard-won peace. Read more

For Ireland and the Bay State, a boom in medical device business

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, October 31, 2013

Irish American Partnership study shows exciting growth

Ireland is slowly emerging from its economic disaster and one of the main reasons is the medical device business led by Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and 200 other medical device companies located in Galway and throughout the country.
A just-released research study financed by the Irish American Partnership, sponsored by the Regenerative Medicine Institute of the National University of Ireland Galway, and authored by Ms. Emma Wickham shows how the medical device business in both Galway and Massachusetts is thriving due at least partly to “technology transfer” activities. Read more

Confronting doubt about God’s existence

By Ed Forry, October 31, 2013

BY JAMES W. DOLAN
SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER
It would be disingenuous not to question the existence of God or the validity of those institutions that purport to represent him. To be “born again” into a complete and permanent acceptance of God, while perhaps comfortable, seems more emotional than rational.
Doubt is the natural product of an inquisitive mind. Courage is overcoming fear – without the one, the other is suspect. So, too, faith is the affirmation of hope – without doubt, it is blind acceptance. Read more

OF POLITICIANS AND PUGILISTS

By Peter F. Stevens BIR Staff, special to the BIR, October 31, 2013

Echoes of the Past in Boston Politics and Sports

By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff
Two Boston Irish names at the top of the 2013 mayoral ticket – What’s old in the city’s politics is new again. In a Boston whose demographics are shifting, the fact that the next mayor will be a man with Hibernian bloodlines has dismayed some in the media and some in the neighborhoods. It is an unfair swipe at both Marty Walsh and John Connolly. Both are smart and capable candidates who genuinely want to serve all residents.
Unlike days of yore, the once-vaunted “Boston Irish Machine” did not propel either man to the mayoral final. They emerged from the scramble to follow Tom Menino fair and square. Read more

The Boston Prelim Election: Where were all the voters?

By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, October 9, 2013

The first of two elections to choose the next mayor of Boston has come and gone. Two finalists have been chosen. It’ll be an exciting and informative six weeks until the Nov. 5 balloting.
A little more than 30 percent of Bostonians who are registered to vote in the city made their ways to the polls on Tuesday, a day that dawned with blue skies that persisted through a glorious, 60-degree mid-September day.
To the 113,222 Bostonians who took the five or ten minutes out of their day to wait in a short line (or more than likely, no line) to cast their ballot in the first open mayor’s race in a generation: Thank you for doing your civic duty.To the 70 percent – more than a quarter-million people – who are on the voting rolls but didn’t darken the voting booth on Tuesday:
What the hell is wrong with you? Read more

RIP Democracy; it worked, for a while

By Ed Forry, August 29, 2013

By James W. Dolan
Special to the Reporter
Democracy has failed. Despite all the promise it demonstrated early on, like all other forms of governance it ultimately relies on flawed human beings to set aside self interest and act for the common good.
It seemed to work for a while, but lately the glue that held the process together has hardened into cement. Money, greed, power, and political survival at all costs are toxic lubricants in a system that depends for success on good will, understanding, compromise, wisdom, and, occasionally, self sacrifice. Read more

Self-destruction reigns in Belfast; government can’t control mayhem

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, August 29, 2013

By Joe Leary
Special to the BIR
On Friday night, Aug. 9, more than 1,000 rioting Unionist/Loyalist supporters attacked Belfast police while protesting a Sinn Fein parade memorializing the martial law internment of 342 Catholic Nationalists and Republicans by British soldiers 42 years ago to the day. The Sinn Fein parade was rerouted to avoid direct trouble between the two sides.
Several cars were set on fire, storefronts were destroyed, and 56 policemen were injured. All this in the center of the city showing a world audience once again that Belfast is still a very troubled area, and in the process discouraging tourists and businessmen from coming to the city. Read more

Post-Whitey: A lingering cacophony of media myth, frenzy, fact, and fiction

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, August 29, 2013

By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff
It’s “ovah.” Or is it? James “Whitey” Bulger finally stood trial and received a long-belated, long-deserved verdict. One can only hope that his victims’ families received at least some scant measure of solace, courtesy of a jury that had to endure not only graphic, horrific testimony and grisly crime-scene photos, but also a sorry cast of prosecution witnesses as vile as the gangster on trial. Read more

Public discourse plays loose with the real meaning of words

By Ed Forry, July 31, 2013

BY JAMES W. DOLAN
SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER
Words are sometimes used to inflate, demean, soften, distort, or distract us from reality. In our celebrity culture, what we say or do is often defined by those who have an interest in either protecting or promoting themselves.
Take, for example, the word “inappropriate.” Have you noticed how often people use that term to describe wrong, even reprehensible, behavior? The offender can usually be found before a microphone apologizing for acting inappropriately, asking for forgiveness, and promising never to do it again.
Never do you hear words like “evil” … “sinful” … “outrageous” … “unforgivable.” Defined as unsuitable or improper, “inappropriate” is a much softer term meant to connote an error more of oversight than conscious act. Read more

Split between Catholic Church and Irish government worsens

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, July 31, 2013

The divide between the Irish Government and the Catholic Church in Ireland became more profound last month with the Irish Parliament’s approval of new laws liberalizing abortion restrictions. The aggressive moves by the Fine Gael/ Labor coalition government, which included forced resignations if party members did not vote their leaders’ wishes, embittered many.
But Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s drive to lead the Irish Parliament to approval of relaxed abortion laws was only the latest in a list of serious problems between the Government and the Catholic Church that grew worse when his administration took power in March of 2011. Read more

Of ‘Hoodies’ and Historical Amnesia

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, July 31, 2013

A great many Irish Americans have forgotten that their ancestors’ brogans and workers’ caps were the ‘hoodies’ of their day

BY PETER F. STEVENS
BIR STAFF
No matter where one comes down of the verdict in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, ignoring the issue of profiling is morally and historically myopic. What brought this to my mind, at least, was hearing well-known local attorney and cable network talking-head legal expert Wendy Murphy pontificate that Zimmerman was justified in shooting and killing Trayvon Martin because Zimmerman feared for his own life. That Zimmerman undeniably left his vehicle with his handgun – legally licensed – and “encountered” the teen matters not a whit in the world of Murphy and too many other pundits to list here, many bearing Irish surnames. Read more

An American conundrum: Balancing personal liberty and our social compact

By Anonymous, June 27, 2013

BY JAMES W. DOLAN
SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER
I find it hard to get excited about the revelations of government eavesdropping by Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old National Security Agency analyst who is now seeking asylum for what some view as treason.
I don’t doubt this young libertarian is sincere in his belief that the government is gathering vast amounts of information in what is an overzealous attempt to protect us from terrorist attacks. Perhaps the “national security” net is too broad and impinges on privacy rights. But to err on the side of public safety is understandable, given the world we live in. Someone observed that in order to find the “needle” you must first have a “haystack.” Read more

‘Marching Season’ fears reflect ongoing tensions in the North

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, June 27, 2013

BY JOE LEARY
SPECIAL TO THE BIR
The “Good Friday Agreement” of 1998 has made little difference in the lives of many in Northern Ireland – especially in the disadvantaged areas of both East and West Belfast. Where are the jobs that were promised? The integration? Why the sputtering violence?
Many in the outside world feel the problems of Northern Ireland have been solved, but those closer to the situation know there is deep unrest as both sides feel the threat of coming violence if people’s lives do not improve. Read more

The value of accommodation

By Ed Forry, June 3, 2013

BY JAMES W. DOLAN
SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER
I refer not to the residential kind of accommodations of which we are all familiar but the adjustments one must make to the inevitable vicissitudes one experiences navigating the rolling swells that sometimes threaten life’s equilibrium.
Adapting to such currents requires patience, self-control, tolerance, understanding, and the capacity to overlook annoyances. By “overlook” I do not mean “ignore” but to look beyond the immediate irritation to something more important than anger or withdrawal. Read more

About blights – the natural, and the man-made

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, June 3, 2013

Recently, scientists announced the discovery of the actual strain of potato blight that unleashed the Great Famine, An Gorta Mor. The natural villain behind at least a million deaths from starvation or disease and the Irish Diaspora of the mid-1800s was “HERB-1,” the name that an international team of molecular biologists has give to the lethal blight.
The onset of HERB-1, though not its biological identity, came in the summer of 1846. A County Cork farmer noted that same summer: “A mist rose up out of the sea….When the fog lifted, you could begin to see the potato stalks lying over as if the life was gone out of them. And that was the beginning of the great trouble and the famine that destroyed Ireland.” Read more

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