by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
During our May State Board meeting, I reported on New York’s FFAI accomplishments, under State President Vic Vogel, which many Brothers here made happen. Our national leaders heard what New York was doing and I think it is a credit to our state leaders and to many of you who work on FFAI, that I was appointed National FFAI and directed by our National President and leaders to take the same approach combining politics, publicity and fundraising which worked here and try to make it work across the country.
Last January New York State hosted Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, in a weeklong emergency American tour, which generated a new Congressional initiative, five public events and formal proclamations of support by the New York State Senate, Assembly and local governments. When I met with him in June a dozen victims’ families arrived and asked me to bring back a message thanking you for that success and telling you never to forget how much AOH backing means.
The Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest, scheduled to begin on November 12th is key. Eleven people, including a Catholic priest and mother of eight children were murdered. If the British do not allow justice in a case like that, how can we expect justice in any killings where British crown forces or their agents are involved?
Two of our National leaders, Danny O’Connell and Jere Cole met with the families in Ballymurphy and had a great impact. We have gone from a 5 city tour to a 5 state tour beginning next week, hosting Carmel Quinn, whose brother John Laverty was one of the Massacre victims. This tour will include an Irish Embassy Reception; which is a major political breakthrough; as well as Congressional meetings, and events in Philadelphia, New Jersey hosted by Sean Pender, and Cleveland organized by Danny O’Connell.
In New York she was hosted by our State President and Suffolk County President on Tuesday November 13th, at the Suffolk County AOH Division 2 Hall, 27 Locust Avenue Babylon, at O’Lunneys, 145 West 45th street November 19th, in Albany on Friday November 16th at the AOH Hall, 375 Ontario Avenue, and at the Bronx County Dinner where she was honored alongside Congressman Joseph Crowley and IRISH ECHO Editor Ray O’Hanlon at Rory Dolan’s, on Sunday November 18th by Bronx County AOH.
We are also hoping to get a copy of the film BALLYMURPHY PRECEDENT, for showings especially in areas where we were not able to reach.
Last April sixteen Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter sponsored by the AOH to the British Ambassador about the hundreds of families still waiting for legacy truth. We got 16 signatures, because AOH members called or visited local Congressional offices until they signed.
We will be circulating individual letters and asking Congressmen to write to the British Ambassador expressing concern about the Inquest being affected by British statements in Westminster about British troops being “scapegoated”, “witch hunts”,and “subjected to ridiculous investigations.”
IRELAND’S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
During our National Convention, a resolution was passed that we commemorate the centenary of Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. On January 21, 1919, representatives elected in the 32 county elections of 1918, assembled as a National Parliament, and voted Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. Like the signers of America’s Declaration of Independence, Irish patriots risked imprisonment or death at the hands of the colonial British government. We want to promote this proud event with state, city and local proclamations of Ireland’s Independence Day. That day will be celebrated as Martin Luther King Day in Albany but we are trying to have a formal commemoration like our last April’s event commemorating the 1918 Freedom Mandate. We have had meetings on this and will be taking it up after Election Day.
FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL
You should have received the national mailing about the FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL.I want to especially thank our Past President Brendan Moore for all of his assistance and guidance with the Appeal. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are a cornerstone of our FFAI initiative. We have built up relationships with groups like Relatives for Justice by our donations.
This year our National Officers have begun new FFAI education and information programs about British injustices in the six counties. Some of you have made proposals, which I believe were intended as constructive suggestions. We now have a national committee with Brendan Moore, Malachy McAllister, Gerry McHale, Jim McLaughlin, Sean O’Dowd, Roger Weist and myself. I met with many of you in Rockland to get your input. I am willing to hold more meetings. I am especially interested in your ideas for giving greater credit to contributing Members, Divisions, County and State Boards.
Last year a motion was passed requesting National leaders to establish dialogue with New York State about New York State contributions to FFAI Christmas Appeal. I hope since my appointment I have done enough to begin that dialogue.
EASTER LILLIES AND ENGLAND GET OUT OF IRELAND BANNERS
Former NY State FFAI Chair Tim Myles had organized a drive to encourage “England out of Ireland” banners as a reminder of FFAI in St. Patrick’s Day and other parades. The banner always gets a great response alongside organization banners. I always wear an Easter Lilly pin.
I encourage everyone to wear pins or carrying banners which remind everyone that the AOH remembers those still denied freedom in Ireland.
FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN
In response to requests for information and analysis, I began a monthly FFAI Bulletin. All issues are available on the state web site by clicking Reports and FFAI (thanks to Brother Cummings). We are now carried on the National AOH site (thanks to Brothers Nisler and Cosgrove). The aim is to give you monthly updates on a few key events in the north with short analysis and explanations.
A few of the key events already covered include:Tory-DUP Deal, breakdown of the Stormont talks, Brexit, Pardons proposal for British troopers, Catholic Families forced to flee their homes, Orange sectarian parades, the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquests, fight to carry Irish flags in St. Patrick’s Day Parades etc.
I thank members who email me with constructive criticisms, and suggestions. These bulletins are only worth doing if our members find them worth reading! Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM