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Boston Irish Commentary

Caring about Ireland at Christmas

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, November 30, 2012

The people of Ireland are struggling. Incomes are lower, taxes and fees are higher, unemployment is 14.8 percent, and tens of thousands of young people are once again leaving. After enjoying a booming economy for a brief time a few years ago, Ireland is now severely burdened with enormous debt caused by risk-taking speculators and greedy bankers.

To prevent a total collapse of the Irish economy, in November 2010, the government acted with the advice and backing of the world’s financial leadership and guaranteed all Irish bank debt. It is this debt that hangs over Ireland today. Read more

Let’s call political debate winners by tallying the vote at ringside

By James W. Dolan, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

Saturday Night Live should come up with a new formula that combines debating and prizefighting as a way to give viewers a definite winner and loser instead of the endless “spinning” that occurs under the traditional debate formula. Both sides now claim to be victorious.

This process would at least provide some finality to the annoying speculation that now surrounds political debates. Something like what follows would make future contests more amusing: Read more

As the wide world watches us, the Irish say, ‘Obama’s the one’

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012


The United States is the most powerful, resourceful nation in the world, so what goes on here is of intense interest to all other countries. especially Ireland.

In fact, there is so much attention paid to American elections in English-speaking Ireland that two organizations conducted polls of its citizens to determine who they would choose (if they could) between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The results are quite interesting. Read more

Curiouser & Curiouser: Mitt Romney as our Shanachie-in-Chief?

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

by Peter F. Stevens
Bear with me here, but I’m wondering if somewhere, somehow on the Romney family tree, an Irish branch stretches out. Why is that? Whether or not Mitt Romney wins the Oval Office this month, a question will remain. Who is Willard Mitt Romney? Boston Globe contributor Tom Keane chides the Obama camp for deriding Mitt as a fool. Keane is right – Mitt is no fool. Renee Loth, once the Globe’s editorial page editor, views Mitt as a coreless delegator who will allow running-mate Paul Ryan to shred the nation’s safety net. Read more

Assessing the prospects for an emerging Ireland: Irish American Partnership takes to road to check on opportunities and difficulties

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, October 4, 2012

Above, one of many sessions involving members of the Irish American Partnership and Irish officials that took place during the Partnership's mission to Ireland in August.Above, one of many sessions involving members of the Irish American Partnership and Irish officials that took place during the Partnership's mission to Ireland in August.
A group of 14 Irish American Partnership members, including several Bostonians, traveled to Ireland recently to learn for themselves about the difficulties and opportunities facing the Irish people in these difficult economic times. In an extraordinary tour, the visitors made 21 stops and talked with some 60 Irish leaders, North and South, over four and one half days. 
Sunny, ideal Irish weather was the order of the day throughout the trip; transportation was by a luxurious bus; and Irish hospitality was in evidence everywhere. Read more

For J. Barry Driscoll, insurance man, perseverance is a trump card in life

By Greg O’Brien, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

J. Barry DriscollJ. Barry Driscoll

Barry Driscoll has taken good notes on life for 82 years now and the sketchpad of his character lays out both a standard for success in a business set up to serve others and a lesson in what a gut will to persevere can make happen, the cornerstones of the insurance business he founded more than a half century ago at a rented desk in a downtown Boston high rise: the J. Barry Driscoll Insurance Agency.

The young man of 1960 took an industry known for its tedium and core densities, and made success in it personal. So personal, in fact, that today four of his children own and operate The Driscoll Agency, one of New England’s leading insurance firms, while still learning from a role model of a father who comes to work every day, yet still finds time for his second love—a round of golf. Read more

Report on a week at ‘Olcottage’

By By James W. Dolan, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

It was built on a bluff overlooking Vineyard Sound around 1900 by a wealthy mining executive and was one of the first structures on what at the time was a lonely stretch of beach between Woods Hole and Falmouth not far from Nobska Light. The history of the place rippled through all its quirky nooks and crannies. It spoke of the many families that had enjoyed times of fun, laughter, and the simple joy of just being together. Read more

A Catholic Northern Ireland?

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

The school population in Northern Ireland, through University level, has been heavily Catholic for many years, so it is only a matter of time before there will be a Catholic majority in the six counties.

Northern Ireland as a culturally Catholic area for the first time in almost 500 years will present unusually difficult political problems that will need to be handled carefully by all sides.

Academics and trend experts can argue about when this dramatic shift will become reality, but very few doubt that it will occur within the next five to ten years. Read more

Mitt’s ‘Irish connection’ is a taxing dilemma

By By Peter Stevens, special to the BIR, August 2, 2012

No, Mitt Romney is not claiming Irish heritage to pander for Irish-American votes here or elsewhere. He’s also not claiming publicly his investments in Ireland. No surprise there. After all, as Ann Romney bluntly told ABC’s Robin Roberts: “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.” That would be fine – except that her husband happens to be running for president. What’s next from the Romneys? “Let them eat cake?” Read more

Big Money buys message, hides messenger

By Ed Forry, August 2, 2012

By James W. Dolan
Special to the Reporter
The corrupting influence of unlimited amounts of money from undisclosed sources is undermining our democracy. The Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision determined that corporations were persons and any limitations on corporate funding of elections would be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment’s free speech protections. Read more

Working with the inimitable ‘Tip’

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 2, 2012

Tip O'Neill meets with his friend, Joe LearyTip O'Neill meets with his friend, Joe Leary

In early 1990, through the intercession of two friends, the famous Dr. Tom Durant of MGH and the speaker’s nephew, Brian O’Neill, Esq., I first met the then-retired O’Neill at his office in Washington. My mission was to request that he become a spokesman for the Partnership, signing letters endorsing our work in Ireland, and joining our National Golf Tour as chairman.
I was, of course, very nervous and had practiced what I was going to say all that morning because I was about to meet the man who had served his district in Massachusetts in Congress for 35 years, the last 10 of them as manager of our national House of Representatives. He had dealt with, agreed and disagreed with, and compromised with Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Memorably, he had called Ronald Reagan “Herbert Hoover with a smile” while fighting the Republican right and calling their possible election “a Christmas Party for the rich.” And he had challenged many tough, brilliant men and more often than not won his point with them. Read more

Voters deserve better than debates over debates

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, July 5, 2012

There’s no question that US Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, are “debating.” The televised debate proposed by Vickie Kennedy, widow of the late senator Edward M. Kennedy, to be moderated by heavyweight Tom Brokaw fell apart after Brown’s conditions – that she not endorse either candidate and that MSNBC not be a sponsor – were not met. Read more

Connubial Tales: A 50-year chapter

By Ed Forry, July 5, 2012

By James W. Dolan
Special to the Reporter
As of this month we have been married 50 years. I don’t view it as a great achievement; all you have to do is stay married and live long enough. It was June 16, 1962, just before the sexual revolution. Probably just as well, otherwise I may have been caught up in that movement. Read more

Ireland targets ‘love, devotion’ of Boston’s Irish diaspora

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, July 5, 2012

When Brian Cowan, then prime minister of Ireland, came to Boston in August 2009 to attend Ted Kennedy’s funeral, he met with reporters after Mass. Soaking wet in a rumpled suit from the rain that day and very tired from his late night flight from Ireland, he was asked rather rudely, “Why do you spend so much time caring about the Irish in the United States?” Read more

The ultimate power tool

By Ed Forry, June 4, 2012

By James W. Dolan
Special to the Reporter
With all of the hoopla surrounding the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, it is difficult to determine what likely happened. This is my take based on a lot of years of observing human nature and trying to find the truth.
A misguided law set the stage for a tragedy in which a 17-year-old, innocent African-American youth was killed by a police officer wannabe. George Zimmerman fits the pattern of a well-intentioned neighborhood watchman, who enjoyed the inflated status of a quasi law enforcement role. Read more