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Immigration Reform Not On Front Burner

By Bill O'Donnell, July 5, 2012

Despite the stunning rescue by President Obama of the core of the Dream Act and all that it means now to those who were bought to the US as children, the harsh reality is that there is no comprehensive immigration reform on the horizon nor is there likely to be anything doing for months. The Obama initiative, end-running the GOP, is a policy that deserves to be the law of the land and the president, who speaks often about fairness, was on solid ground, albeit he is being criticized for the politics of doing it in an election year bid to the growing Hispanic community.

Let it be clearly enunciated now that the Republican Party of 2012 is clueless and without anything to offer in the quest for realistic immigration reform save the maniacal mantra of sending some 12 million illegals home (somehow). “Intellectually” bankrupt is the phrase that readily springs to mind.
On June 10, the Boston Globe published the photographs and brief biographies of 39 Boston high school valedictorians, Of the 39, 18 were born outside the United States. These kids are our riches from foreign lands; they will be doctors, teachers, scientists, and join many other professions when they graduate from Harvard, Holy Cross, Wellesley, UMass, and Regis, to name a few destinations for them. Some will go home to help create change there; others will stay and become part of a challenged new generation here; and some will be future CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. (More than 200 Fortune 500 companies in the US were started by immigrants or their children)
We are blessed not burdened. However, we must end the congressional deadlock and bring both parties and the next president together to hammer out a practical and humane immigration plan that opens our front door and tightens the unaccountable, unmanageable back door. Reform of our borders and decisions about who and how we allow people to enter America is a fundamental tenet of a civilized nation.
You Can Rent A Slice Of Irish History—Visitors to Ireland have a broad selection of places to stay, from castles and country houses to modern hotels and comfy bed and breakfasts, but my favorite escape would be a 200-year-old circular, three-story, historic stone building overlooking Dublin Bay.
A recent stroll across the internet unearthed my idea of a reasonably priced getaway that will allow you to dine out for months with tales of “How I spent my vacation.” I’m talking about a unique experience rich in history with every modern convenience and no backup lines at your friendly hotel reception.
Are you ready for a week at a Martello Tower just seven miles from Dublin’s City Centre that hugs Dublin Bay and looks out toward super scenic Howth. Just such a redoubt can be found —and rented — in Sutton, County Dublin, a short ride from Ireland’s capital city.
Back story: In the early days of the 19th century, England and Ireland were concerned about an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte and first Ireland and then England began building a series of round stone towers to repel any armed aggression. The refurbished Sutton-based Martello Tower, built in 1804, and 150 other towers never fired a cannon in anger but their presence apparently persuaded Napoleon to look elsewhere for conquest. Today there are 21 of the towers still standing.
The Sutton Martello tower on the north coast is three floors, and can accommodate four people or two couples in splendor. The best thing about these storybook towers is that they can be rented for a two-day minimum, or a week or two or more, for roughly what each couple would pay (around $150 per night) at a five-star hotel but with a first rate modern kitchen, designer bed rooms, a fantastic living room, a spectacular view and all the privacy and location you could ask for. To contact the owners for full details, send an e-mail to, or call 01-642671.
QUOTING: “If a group of people living in Brussels decide to go to Berlin or Barcelona for a weekend instead of Belfast, it is not because German and Spanish ministers have put their faces in more photographs; it is more likely because there are air connections, a decent public transport system, late-night clubs, and the probability they will not be assaulted by drunken yobs while trying to find their way back to the hotel. These are the issues Stormont needs to get to grips with.”
-- The Belfast-based newspaper, Newsletter, on tourism issues.
New York City’s Next Mayor—After three terms as Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg will be term-limited next year and a new mayor will be elected in November. The odds-on favorite to succeed Bloomberg sixteen months from now is New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay, Irish Catholic elected by her council peers as speaker in 2006.
Quinn, a populist liberal-leaning Democrat, leads in all the early polls and her work in the neighborhoods and her advocacy for the homeless and others in need and her image as a smiling, approachable, sensible hard worker should help make her New York City’s first female, and first openly gay, mayor.
‘Not So Fast’ On A Unified Ireland—You and I, resident on this side of the Atlantic, might be strongly supportive of the united Ireland that Gerry Adams suggested a few years ago might bloom when Ireland marks the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising in four years, but for the average punter it’s nay, nay, not quite that fast—if ever.
A recent poll representing all voters in Northern Ireland showed strong support for the status quo, affirming that today, and likely even 20 years down the line, only one-third of the electorate would support unity. Only 7 per cent of NI voters would vote for a united Ireland this year.
The Catholic population was divided, and shy of 50 percent support for unity, with just 7 per cent voting for unity now, and a further 41 percent who would support it in 20 years from now or in the foreseeable future.
A surprising aspect of another recent poll published by the Community Relations Council found that Catholics already constitute a majority among those under age 30. Despite this, the new survey shows that support for Irish unity, at 36 percent, is slightly lower in the 18-24 age group, compared to 37 percent in the population as a whole.
The Neighborhood Mayor Stays Active—You can’t keep a good man down as the ageless bromide says, and that certainly is the case with Raymond L. Flynn, former Boston Mayor and Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the Vatican. Just recently, Flynn was out and about lending his support to East Boston residents opposed to the casino proposed for Suffolk Downs. Flynn’s advocacy is likely not embraced by his successor, Tom Menino, who has worked the precincts and the Legislature diligently to try to ensure that the East Boston racetrack will get the nod for a casino.
The former mayor, a good boss (it says here) and compassionate city leader, is also the de facto, non-clerical voice hereabouts for the Vatican on matters Catholic. On the political front, Flynn, a nominal Democrat in recent years, is now supporting Scott Brown for the US Senate and Willard M. Romney for president. Both choices are likely predicated on their position re current moral/sexual issues supported by the Catholic Church.
Dublin’s Croke Park For A Sight To Behold—The GAA signature stadium for Irish football and hurling (although I watched Muhammad Ali and Al “Blue” Lewis in a boxing match there in 1972) has been refurbished in recent years. Today its capacity ranks behind only Wembley in London and the stadiums in Barcelona & Madrid. As part of the Croke Park redevelopment, there is now a series of viewing platforms atop the stadium roof that offers tourists a panoramic view of Dublin and many of its most celebrated landmarks. The roof walkway viewing platforms offer a rarely seen perspective of such sights as Glasnevin Cemetery, Guinness Brewery, the Dublin Mountains, Dun Laoghaire Harbor, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s and Christchurch Cathedrals, Phoenix Park, and the Docklands.
The roof viewing area has only been opened since June 1of this year. Two-hour tours are regularly operating and should be frequent during high season. If Dublin is on your Irish itinerary, the Croke Park Aerie sounds like an ideal spot to have a look over the fair city.
Parity Of Esteem Atop Belfast City Hall—The question is: When to fly the Union flag, which has flown over city hall every day since 1906. There’ll be no decision by the Belfast City Council until a public consultation is complete and a vote taken on November 1. Change is coming and even Unionists believe that the fall vote, with the Alliance Party holding the balance of power on the council, will result in flying the Unionist flag only on special occasions and not daily.
The four options being considered before the November council vote are: (1) Flying the Union flag on some designated days, not daily; (2) Flying the Union flag on designated days plus extra days when appropriate; (3) No flag or a neutral flag flown; (4) two flags, with the Irish Tricolor flying alongside the Union flag.
Early indications suggest that Option 4 is a longshot.
A Communicant Looks At Today’s Catholic Church—Not to put too fine an edge on it, but what follows can be criticized as a diatribe or simply your garden variety rant. I’m not sure how to characterize it. The only thing I know amidst a sea of uncertainties is that today’s Catholic Church, under this pope and the hierarchy that surrounds Benedict XV1 and follows his marching orders, is clearly dysfunctional, corrupt, and unheeding at too many crucial levels. The church is slowly but vengefully pushing tens of thousands or more of the historically faithful toward the exit. That’s one man’s opinion.
As a matter of personal conviction, I say that if I believed for a nanosecond that the Catholic Church was defined by the pope, the Curia, and its pampered prelates—and not by the millions of pay-and-obey faithful in the pews who are looking for Jesus—I doubt, in good faith, that I could continue.
I have complaints and concerns that I believe are at the core of a rotting, frequently myopic, disengaged institution led by a leader who is, alas, singularly unqualified by background, temperament, and administrative history to lead a universal church devoted to good works and the search for Christ.
(1) There are a number of cardinals (whom we know about) who should have been indicted and prosecuted. These include the priest-abuse enabler and backroom papal fixer in America, Cardinal Bernard Law. Also Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, Cardinal Edward Egan of Connecticut and later New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who led the flying column raid on the Irish College in Rome last year and is now the pope’s enforcer trying desperately to give flight to the canard that Barack Obama and US government are “strangling” the Catholic Church. Which, of course, is the most bogus claim to date by a church that knows better.
Just up the road in the Providence Diocese is Bishop Thomas Tobin, who has called President Obama “devious and divisive” and “creepy”—yes, “creepy”—for citing his daughters’ questions when he announced his support for same sex marriage. And Tobin offered a forum on “children” in his diocesan newspaper to America’s premier enabler of priest/child abuse, Bishop John McCormack of New Hampshire, who easily deserved indictment after being Law’s chief priest-shifter and apologist.
(2) Since the early 1980s, the Vatican has had at least three major scandals —two involving money laundering charges and massive Vatican bank irregularities, and a suicide under the bridge. The Vatican is now involved in damage control over leaks involving blood feuds among opposing factions in the Ratzinger Vatican. That has yet to play out.
(3) There is a comprehensive action plan from the pope and his allies throughout the Vatican Curia to denigrate and dismiss Vatican II, and elevate its opponents, like Opus Dei leader Josemaria Escriva, who was fast tracked into sainthood despite widespread belief that he was a fascist and mentally sick; that he was anti-Vatican II; that he misspent funds;, and that his Opus Dei was, and is, a cult.
Pope John XXIII, creator of Vatican II, has been consigned to the very bottom of the sainthood list while Escriva of Opus Dei was rushed into undeserved sainthood. It’s not what you do …
The same pope and his Curia are working to give new life to the ultra-conservative Society of Pius X and to the followers of Bishop Lefebvre. They are for making a comfortable home for the Ministry of Christ, and for giving new authority to Law’s Communion & Liberation group. All Benedict’s people share a desire to erase Vatican II reforms as they reconstruct the Church.
What we are seeing is the seeding throughout the hierarchy of ultra-conservatives who oppose Vatican II. Law is on the three-man panel that makes recommendations on US bishop appointments while also leading the charge against America’s nuns. His soft landing in Rome confirms that he was a favored consigliere for the past two popes and their key man in the US.
(4) The assault on the women religious in the US in recent months is a blundering disgrace. While the nuns live Catholic social justice every single day, the spoiled, male-only hierarchy from the Vatican on down is determined to silence them. Do your work, but be silent! That’s what the good sisters are being told by preening, over-indulged cardinals who want to keep the nuns in indentured servitude as long as they don’t speak out. This is a high price that America’s nuns have not bent the knee to.
The Church’s problems transcend the clergy abuse horror show, but what is happening secretly and internally with papal approval and direction this very minute ultimately threatens the very existence of the Catholic Church, I am afraid.
But, hell, no, I’m not leaving.
(To learn more about what one author, Matthew Fox, calls “The Pope’s War,” pick up a copy of his book at a public library or bookstore or Sterling Ethos Publishers.)
The best bet for a summer walk that you won’t forget is the guided walking tour of the Boston Irish Heritage Trail organized by Irish Massachusetts’s Mike Quinlin (617-696-9880). … The BC oral history donnybrook has found fresh interest from a bevy of Irish orgs including the AOH, Brehon Law Society, and the I-A Unity Conference. … Starbuck’s Coffee with a big gaffe asking the Irish what makes them proud to be British. … And the Irish attorney general who called Derry Londonderry, tsk, tsk. … Jim Sheridan of “My Left Foot” fame looking to get Brendan Gleeson (“The Guard”) to play his father in an upcoming bio-pic. … Druid Theatre Company doing an impressive series of plays by Tom Murphy this summer into September.
Curt Schilling’s cock-up as a video game wannabe came as no surprise to Sox players and others who know the former pitcher as a big BS-er. … Irish birth numbers are way up with more than 75,000 births, the highest since 1891. … Once again Taoiseach Enda Kenny assures US investors that Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate is here to stay. … Canada and Australia are accepting Irish emigrants in record numbers with the economy in the US & the UK suffering. … Some 30,000 residents of the Irish Republic have applied for British citizenship in the past 3 years.
The economist Kevin Gardiner, who coined the term “Celtic Tiger,” says the worst is over for Ireland. … It was not a bomb, but the recent Eucharist Congress had a lot of empty seats and was a far cry from the last one in 1932. … United Airlines has inaugurated a Dublin-Washington flight, the first between the two capitals. … Sean Brady, Primate of all Ireland, has apologized to the children there for the clerical abuse. … A good idea: Taoiseach Kenny and NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness agree that they would like to see one football team represent the island of Ireland.
The Master, Leonardo Da Vinci, will have some of his work showcased at the Ulster Museum (free admission) through August 27. … Alex Maskey, former Sinn Fein Belfast councillor and mayor, was honored by LeMoyne College in Syracuse. A good choice. … Michelle Obama’s ancestors have been traced to Ulster, as the six counties are sometimes called. … A golf course in Northern Ireland was named as the top course outside the US. The honors went to Royal County Down in Newcastle.