From the Desk NYS AOH President

Brothers,

Please keep Allegheny County AOH Past President Jerome Hart and his family in your prayers. Jerome recently passed after a long illness. While I was NYS Organizer, I had the pleasure of organizing Wellsville Division 1. Erie County AOH Division 1 Past President Jim O’Brien and I had the pleasure of participating in the Installation of the Division’s Inaugural Board. Jerome was the 1st President. He was the driving force behind the formation of Division 1 and remained President for some time afterwards. I recall seeing Jerome at the annual Buffalo Irish Festival and at multiple Wolf Tone concerts at the Buffalo Irish Center. R.I.P. Jerome Hart!

Tom Lambert,
President NYS Ancient Order of Hibernians

 

You may read his full obituary here:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/wellsvilledaily/obituary.aspx?n=jerome-joseph-hart&pid=196132088&fhid=27529

Saffron United Pipe Band Honors Medical Heroes

The Saffron United Pipe Band (SUPB) from Suffolk County’s Division 2 in Babylon had the honor of playing for the heroic doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.  The band, led by Pipe Major John Henderson, is based in Babylon and was originally formed in 1962 by a small group of bagpipe music enthusiasts from around the area and within the Babylon AOH. SUPB grew to being a competition worthy band and nearing it’s 60th anniversary, it is one of the oldest pipe bands in the Tri-State area.  View/download a video of the band’s hospital performance.

Information, photo and video provided by Jerry Belmont.

Division 2 Babylon Brothers Provide Comfort Food To Hospital Workers

On Thursday April 16, 2020, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 2 Babylon Brothers sent 15 trays of Irish comfort food (shepherds pie) to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip to the delight of the hardworking nurses, doctors and staff. The food was much appreciated by those who put themselves on the front line, day in and day out.  Pictured is President Jim Killen and Charities and Missions Chairman Tom Bennet.

 

Easter Blessings from NYS AOH President

On behalf of the entire NYS AOH Board, please accept these Easter Greetings.  As we celebrate this glorious Easter Sunday, may it also mark a new beginning for all of us as we hope for better days ahead. Thank you to all who are on the front lines in the battle against this horrible Covid-19 pandemic.  Stay safe and happy Easter to all!    

Tom Lambert 
President 
NYS AOH

AOH NYS Board Spring Meeting Notice

Brothers: 

    The attached Call to Virtual Meeting was sent via US Mail on 4/2/20 by our Worthy NYS Secretary, Tom O’Donnell to all State Board Officers, County Board Presidents and Division Presidents.  The virtual meeting will be held on 5/2/20.  Contact information will be forthcoming. We never rescheduled the State Board Meeting to 6/6/20, only the LAOH did that. If that date holds (uncertain at best in this pandemic environment), it did not appear that the hotels would have had sufficient rooms available for both the AOH and the LAOH. If anyone has additional questions, please feel free to contact me at 716-796-7687 or at Tomlambert12@aol.com.  Stay safe! 

Tom Lambert, 
President NYS AOH

To View the Attached Call to Meeting, Please CLICK HERE

 

Historical Happenings for April 2020

THEY WENT TO SPAIN

by Mike McCormack AOH Historian

Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia in 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, leading to his abdication and restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. Russia then played a central role at the post-war Vienna Congress of 1814 as a leader of anti-revolutionary forces. This suited the Bourbon kings who once again ruled and allowed the formation of the French Communist Party (PCF). Then, in 1920, after the death of Lenin, his successor Josef Stalin established a new ideology for the Communist International. He called it Marxist-Leninism and redefined the theories of both Lenin and Marx to establish a new meaning to benefit establishing a global Communist world.  It reformed civil law, made marriage secular between social-and-legal equals, facilitated divorce, legalized abortion and voided the political power of the upper and middle class and  privately owned businesses. The Marxist–Leninist world view was totally atheist denying religion in the affairs of human society. The PCF as the French Section of the Communist International adopted the new ideology.  In 1921, they spread it to Spain where the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) was founded. The PCE was legalized by the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 and  gained much support.  Soon the Republic began introducing the atheistic doctrines of the new Communist ideology. In May 1931, anti-clerical violence broke out all over Madrid and south-west Spain. The government’s slow response disillusioned the population and reinforced their view that the Republic was determined to persecute the Catholic church.  In December a new reformist, liberal democratic constitution was declared and included strong provisions to secularize the previously Catholic country by abolishing Catholic schools and charities; many committed Catholics strongly opposed.   Churches were closed down, unspeakable atrocities were committed against priests and nuns and sacred artifacts were destroyed or stolen.  Then in July 1936, a rebellion was led by General Francisco Franco which marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Due to  international politics at the time, some saw it as either a class struggle, a religious war, a struggle between dictatorship and  democracy or between fascism and anarchism. In reality it was the result a polarization of Spanish life and politics that had developed since the introduction of communism. On one side, the Nationalists were mostly Roman Catholics, ranking members of the military, middle-class landowners and businessmen. On the other side, the Republic was supported by urban workers, agricultural laborers and members of a newly educated lower class.

The war became notable for the passionate political division it inspired and for the many atrocities that occurred, on both sides. Organized purges occurred in Republican areas to eliminate suspected opposition and revenge killings took place in areas controlled by Franco’s Nationalists.  As the execution of thousands of priests and nuns took place, New York’s Archbishop Cardinal Hayes asked New Yorkers to cry for Spain.  The Church hailed Franco as a deliverer but never sanctioned violence in retribution for the atrocities against his followers.  While Stalin sent volunteers and weapons to the Republicans, many nations officially took a neutral stance.  That neutrality faced serious opposition from sympathizers in the U.S. and other European countries leading to International Brigades.  Thousands from all nations voluntarily went to Spain to aid in the fight on either side.

The new Irish Free State joined an International Committee for Non-Intervention and passed The Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act in 1937 making it a punishable offence to travel from Ireland to Spain for any who would volunteer to serve in Franco’s cause.  However, while the IRA sent 300 men to support the Republicans, former IRA General Eoin O’Duffy led 700 Irishmen to fight for Franco as a result of the violence being perpetrated against Catholics and clergy.  By the end of the war, more than 6,000 Irish had volunteered in the Christian cause creating unofficial Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War on both sides.  County Councils passed resolutions of support for Franco and requiem Masses were said for the fallen showing the support of the Irish people for the cause of Spain’s persecuted Catholics though today’s Irish government will not recognize that. Of 500,000 deaths in the War, 200,000 were combat-related: 110,000 Republicans and 90,000 of Franco’s Nationalists, the rest were civilians, but the destruction of a world-famous library’s priceless manuscript collection is lamented by historians to this day.  Another Irish Free State legislation, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1937 restricting Irish shipping to Spain was finally repealed on 27 April 1939 after Franco’s forces defeated the Republicans.  Franco set up a military government under which the PCE was repressed with specific laws banning Communists.  General Franco ruled anti-communist Spain until his death in November 1975 and was always grateful to the Irish who followed O’Duffy and were proud to claim, “We went to Spain!” which had a special meaning in the 1940s; it wasn’t just for a holiday!  The Irish volunteers who were ready to fight Communism in Spain were convinced that the cause of Franco was the cause of their Church and rose to its defense; every Hibernian should be able to relate to that.

Freedom For All Ireland Report – April 2020

            FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Search continues for new Irish government coalition after Sinn Fein surprise in February election-Nearly two months after an election producing a three way split between, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael, the leader and composition of the new Irish government are still unknown. Sinn Féin gained 14 seats, and now holds 37,with Fianna Fail at 38,and Fine Gael at 35 seats. At least 80 seats are needed for a government majority and no party is close..The Dáil (Irish parliament)met on February 20th but no one had the votes to form a new government. Outgoing  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar resigned, but will remain as a caretaker until his successor is chosen. Sinn Fein Party leader Mary Lou McDonald began contacting smaller parties, including the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats, but their combined numbers would not be enough for a majority. During the campaign, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he would not join with Sinn Féin, because of its links to the IRA. A Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein combination would need only a few votes from Independents or the smaller parties. As results came in, Mr Martin appeared to soften and open the door to partnership with Sinn Féin. However Fianna Fail has since firmly rejected this option. Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, also says it will not join a coalition with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are in negotiations about forming a new coalition, with support from independents or one of the smaller parties. However, nothing is set. The results of the February 8th election registered dissatisfaction with the Fine Gael led government on issues like housing, homelessness, hospital waiting lists, and pensions. A planned ceremony for the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin constabulary, sparked  memories of the infamous Black and Tans. The ceremony was cancelled but not before boycotts, protests and awakened patriotic feelings. Sinn Fein gained votes on all these issues and voters wanted someone new. A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition, might succeed long term or might trigger voter resentment next time around.

B-No border poll for united Ireland in my lifetime says Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.-Despite recent opinion polls  showing increased support for getting rid of the border, Arlene Foster, who turns 50 this year, told BBC’s The View there would not be a united Ireland nor even a poll in her lifetime.  The Stormont First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader  was asked if she thought she would see a united Ireland in her lifetime. She replied: “No I don’t”. When asked if she would see a border poll in the same timeframe, she again replied: “No, I don’t“. Asked why, she added:”Because there has to be evidence there...As you know the test for a border poll is that people would vote for it in a majority. And there’s no evidence of that…Yes, people can have different opinion polls, but there’s no tangible evidence if you look right across Northern Ireland”. The Good Friday agreement says that Britain’s six county secretary “may by order direct the holding of a poll… if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting” would vote to be part of a united Ireland. Foster thinks this means British officials need not allow a vote in her lifetime. Meanwhile the DUP refused to join in a discussion week organised by Shared Ireland, a group which believes unity is the way forward, but asks unionists to take part in discussions. Colin Harvey, professor of human rights at Queens University, said unionists faced a challenge. “There has been a lot of focus on those proposing Irish reunification,” he said.”But if these referendums do take place, if there’s a referendum in the north, what is the proposition of unionists?”

C-New British Secretary Brandon Lewis plans Legacy Whitewash-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed Julian Smith as six county secretary and replaced him with Brandon Lewis, the former chair of the Conservative Party. Smith had brokered the deal to get the north’s parties back to the Stormont Assembly, after a 3 year impasse. He was faulted for pledging to deliver the legacy bodies agreed in the December 2014, Stormont House Agreement. The “New Decade New Deal” promised these laws within 100 days and this pledge was crucial to six county nationalists and the Irish government. The new plan for legacy cases is designed to shield British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, from investigations which could lead to prosecutions. For decades British crown forces had a de facto immunity or impunity, and were not punished for murders on behalf of the crown. Legal excuses were found for mass murders like the Ballymurphy Massacre or Bloody Sunday. Nationalists fought court battles to define right to life protections under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The leading case stemmed from the murder of the Gibraltar 3.It held that the right to life created  legal obligations (1)to conduct full, open and transparent investigations into state killings, which are public, independent and involve victims’ families, and(2) a duty of command, control and training over its forces who take life. The Stormont House Agreement made by the British and Irish governments and five of the north’s political parties in December 2014,promised 4 new legacy bodies to fulfil these obligations. The key body was a Historical Investigations Unit. The HIU would investigate almost 2,000 Troubles killings including those by British forces or collusion killings. An Independent Commission on Information Retrieval(ICIR)could give information to families in exchange for immunity. There would be an Oral History Archive and an Implementation and Reconciliation Group. The new plan is a gimmick to close the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases and stop them from ever being re-opened. Cases would be  reviewed by what the British say  will be an “independent body”. Only where it saw “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution”, would they investigate.  All other cases would be  permanently blocked from further investigations. The updated legacy plan was set out on the same day as Boris Johnson’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Jonny Mercer, announces legislation to protect former soldiers from “vexatious” historical investigations. Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney said the measure had “significant changes” from the legacy approach signed up to in the Stormont House Agreement. Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin said the new plan was “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called it “an act of spectacular bad faith”. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said ” the British government has once again moved the goal posts to protect those within its armed forces and those within illegal organisations they colluded with. Its ultimate aim is to prevent the truth from emerging about its role in the conflict”.

D-Final chapter in Renewable Heat Scandal that led to 3 year Stormont collapse- The Renewable Heat Initiative, ridiculed as “Cash for Ash” or “Money to Burn,” which cost taxpayers 480 million pounds, and led to a three year collapse of the Stormont Assembly, ended without political fireworks in a quiet report by Judge Patrick Coghlin. Arlene Foster apologized for her failures but would not resign as DUP leader and First Minister. Coghlin was critical of Foster, for endorsing a plan which allowed businesses to make a profit by burning unneeded fuel, when she was minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade Investment (DETI).Foster admitted she had not read the legislation, but blamed her advisors and civil service. Traditional Unionist Voice head Jim Allister said “by spreading the blame widely, some may have escaped the sharper criticism that they deserved…Yet, the question remains – will there be consequences for anyone? In any other jurisdiction it is hard to imagine that heads would not roll. But here, even the concept that the buck stops with the Minister when a department spectacularly fails, as DETI did, has become so muted that a preemptive apology seems to do.” After the scandal broke in November 2016,there were calls for Foster’s resignation. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness asked Foster to step aside temporarily, while the matter was under investigation. When Foster refused, he resigned. Under the power-sharing rules, this meant the assembly could not meet. It remained closed for three years.

                 CHRISTMAS APPEAL APPRECIATION

Nineteen applicants will receive a record amount in FFAI  Christmas Appeal grants. The presentations were scheduled to be made personally this past week, but had to be postponed along with meetings to plan FFAI strategy proposals for our National Convention. With the British moving on a legacy whitewash, and added financial burdens of working despite closed offices, these groups tell us that our AOH-LAOH grants are desperately needed ! Four first time applicants will receive grants including : the Ballymurphy Massacre Families Committee (2) Museum of Free Derry operated by Bloody Sunday Trust,(3) Tyrone National Graves and (4)the Witness Project headed by Sean Murray. Repeat recipients include: Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, EALU-( Escape in Irish) centre for  Tyrone Republican ex-political prisoners, Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust, Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball and Omagh Choir.

New York and Pennsylvania were the top state contributors. Virginia rose to third and is a major success story. Jim McLaughlin and Terry Riley and Virginia challenge each division to earn awards for $1000 donations. There were some welcome successes in California, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire along with repeat success in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Louisiana and Kentucky. The LAOH must also be congratulated for a major increase in its contribution. America can make a difference for the six counties still denied freedom in Ireland, but only  if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are the cornerstone of our FFAI initiative.

            

 

           FFAI SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION

                 

All of us have seen a great many things which we took for granted disappear, because of the current health crisis. That list includes platforms which we counted on, to help those in Ireland still denied freedom. St. Patrick’s Day parades, always an Irish rallying point, were lost. The Irish Presidential Forum, forcing candidates to speak to Irish issues has been pushed back. New York Hibernians lost formal ceremonies in the state Senate and Assembly memorializing the sacrifices of Terence MacSwiney, Kevin Barry and other patriots a century ago during the Black and Tan War.

 

Meanwhile the crisis has not slowed British injustice. As the AOH warned at a House Foreign Affairs Committee  Congressional hearing, the British government designed legacy bodies that were supposed to open the door to truth, but will instead nail that door shut. Recently I met Emma de Souza, the County Derry woman whose application for her American husband was refused because she said she was Irish not British  under the terms of the Good

 

Friday Agreement. According to her the British government’s attitude was that the GFA was something the Labour Party negotiated more than 20 years ago, and the Tories did not have to bother keeping today.

 

Meanwhile the clock continues ticking for Malachy McAllister, whose deadline for deportation remains the end of May, and has lost chances to push his issue on St. Patrick’s Day with Cardinal or at the Presidential forum.

 

Hopefully this national crisis will end soon. We will get through it with the Irish spirit and unbreakable determination that was forged within us as part of our Irish heritage. As part of that Irish spirit and determination we cannot forget those still denied Freedom for all Ireland, and come back stronger than ever behind them!    

 

                     FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

                                                   

                                                  Slan,

 

                                                 MARTIN GALVIN

 

 

A Message from NYS AOH President – 2020 James F. Hayes Golf Outing

Brothers:
I hope all are safe in this trying time. If you know of any Brothers who need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your District Director, Division President, County President, or myself. Please keep our First Responders, nurses and doctors in your prayers. Stay safe!

With the continuing pandemic, the NYS Board must cancel the 2020 James F. Hayes Golf Outing. This was not an easy decision, but it is the correct one. Neither the 2020 or 2021 NYS Board Scholarships will be affected. We look forward to the 2021 Golf Outing. A decision will be made shortly concerning the NYS AOH Board Meeting in East Durham.

Slainte,
Tom Lambert,
President NYS AOH

Five Hibernians Receive Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40 Awards

Five of our worthy Brother Hibernians received the prestigious 40 Under 40 Award from the Irish Echo, America’s oldest Irish-American newspaper recently. At a gala dinner held on Friday, February 21, 2020 at Rosie O’Grady’s restaurant in New York City, the Irish Echo honored five of our Brother Hibernians in recognition for the tremendous contributions to the Irish-American community. View the online photo album.
 
The following Brother Hibernians were recipients of this award:
 
Brother Sean (“Seanai”) Kiely, of Hoboken, NJ. Brother Kiely is a member of New York County Thomas Cardinal O’Fiaich Division 7. Born in Waterford, Ireland, Brother Kiely moved to the United States in 2017 to take up a position with the law firm of Raoul Felder and Partners. Brother Kiely holds a degree from Trinity College in Law and German. He was called to the Honourable Society of Kings Inns, Dublin, where he trained as a Barrister-at-Law, being called to the Bar of Ireland in July 2016 by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland.is a member of the New York Bar as a practicing attorney. An avid hurler, he currently plays for the Hoboken Guards. His hurling team won the New York State Hurling Championship last summer in Gaelic Park against Tipperary New York. He is passionate about all Irish sport. Brother Kiely served as Fianna Fail’s Waterford Representative on the National Executive of the Party from 2013-2017. 
 
Brother Andrew Sharp of New Orleans and New York, NY. Brother Sharp is a member of Suffolk County Saint Patrick’s Division 2. A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Brother Sharp has had a lifetime immersed in Irish music and culture since early childhood. He began playing the Uileann pipes professionally at the age of 15, performing with such legends as New York City’s own Black 47 and toured with iconic Irish music legends Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfetones. He is a dedicated teacher of the various types of bagpipes, and is a pipes instructor with the Saffron United Pipe Band in Babylon, New York. The band was just awarded “Champion Supreme” in the eastern United States and will travel to Glasgow, Scotland to compete at the World Pipe Band Championship. Besides being an Irish musician, Brother Sharp is a political campaign consultant. Brother Sharp is married to his lovely wife Alexandra, and they are expecting their first child.
 
Brother Sean McCann of Putnam Valley, NY. Brother McCann is a member of Westchester County Peekskill Division 18. He was the recipient of the Building America Award.  Along with his father, Frank McCann, he is active in supporting the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural center in East Durham, NY. Brother McCann is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, and graduated from the union’s three-year apprenticeship program in 2014. He obtained a New York State diploma in Stationary Engineering in 2014 and a Refrigeration Operators license from the FDNY. He currently serves as a High-Pressure Plant Tender for the City College of New York and is the shop steward assisting the Vice President of Local 983 representing High-Pressure Plant Tenders at multiple CUNY locations.He loves Irish music and attends different Irish festivals throughout the year. Brother McCann is married to his lovely wife Jackie.
 
Brother Tim Weklar of Averill Park, NY. Brother Weklar is a member of Albany County Father Henry Tansey Division 5. Brother Weklar graduated the University of Albany in 2002 with a BA, majoring in history and minoring in political science. He would then earn a Master’s degree from the College of Saint Rose in Adolescent Education. He currently teaches at City School District of Albany as a special education teacher at the Tony Clement Center for Education. Brother Weklar has served as an officer of his Division since 2009, and is the Worthy President. He also serves on Schenectady Major Degree Team and is the Past County President. Brother Weklar is married to his lovely wife Amanda. They have two children, Simon (6) and Theodore (1).
 
Brother Tomas McLaughlin of Baltimore, MD. Brother McLaughlin is an active member of the Order in Baltimore. He is the Director of the AFL-CIO Community Services of Central Maryland. He has been helping organize, train, and support workers in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Maryland his entire post-college career.  He focused his undergraduate studies thesis on the Irish Hunger Strikes. Although born in Brooklyn, NY, Brother McLaughlin was baptized in Belfast, County Antrim by the great champion of West Belfast, Father Des Wilson. Brother McLaughlin spent his first 18 summers living and working on a farm outside Ardara, County Donegal. He is the youngest member of the Fenian Memorial Committee of America’s Board of Directors, and actively supports Irish festivals and parades.
 
Our Brothers’ awards were presented by the AOH New York State Board Worthy Vice President John J. Manning.
 
Kudos to all five of our Worthy Brother Hibernians on being the recipients of this year’s Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40, bringing honor to the good name and reputation of our Ancient Order, aiding and advancing our Irish-American community and honoring our Irish heritage and Roman Catholic faith.
 
There is an old saying in the Irish-American community. “To be Irish is a blessing. To be a Hibernian is an honor.” These five Brothers bring both honor and blessings to our Order by their good works and serving our Irish-American community and in our Order’s ranks as worthy and esteemed Brother Hibernians.
 
Respectfully submitted for your review and consideration.
 
Fraternally yours in Our Motto,
 
Brother Denis P. McGowan
Vice President
Richmond County Board