Join the AOH Christmas Appeal to Help Secure Freedom, Justice

Clara Reilly 2011 Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award winner with Sean Pender, Mike Redmond and Mike Glass.

As boards and divisions continue to consider their contributions to the annual Freedom for All Ireland Christmas appeal, I would like to present a speech I made recently regarding Relatives for Justice. It is my hope that it will convey to you the importance of the work that we support with our appeal:

It was almost 10 years ago that I first met Mark Thompson, Clara Reilly and the staff of Relatives for Justice (RFJ) in their Falls Road office in West Belfast. In that time I have learned about the hundreds of families that they have helped in their quest for justice. I have had the honor to personally meet dozens of these families and learn firsthand of their quest for justice. I have been in awe of the staff of RFJ and inspired by their determination to fight for truth and justice. Often faced with what would seem insurmountable odds, they labor on, for they have the truth as their most valuable asset on their side.

Through my work with the AOH I have rallied support for RFJ at the local, state and national levels. The AOH has helped with our donations and our voices; We have told their story in meeting halls, conventions and to our elected officials both locally and in the halls of Congress.

Dealing with the past in a transparent and truthful way is a remaining challenge of not only the Good Friday agreement but a key component of the transition of a society from post conflict to true, lasting peace. It is the difference of defining a fragile peace as a lack of war to a lasting sustainable peace for equals.

RFJ’s quest is for justice for those families still seeking truth. Unfortunately, that quest for justice and truth has been often delayed, deferred, postponed and put off by the existing systems that are in place in the North of Ireland. For the truth to emerge, the vehicle that will provide the process must be free from the prejudices of the British government and her henchmen disguised as civil service employees in offices that they still influence. Britain has had its opportunity to address the past but it has failed terribly. Justice — even when it has been achieved — takes not months or years but generations.

Ignoring the issues is no longer an option. Britain must acknowledge what it has done, admit what it has done and apologize to those it has harmed.

It is my hope that the recent awarding of the 2011 AOH Sean MacBride Humanitarian award to Clara Reilly, chairperson and founding member of Relatives for Justice and a woman who for 40 years has been the backbone of the civil and human rights movement for the people of the North, will continue to highlight the critical importance of truth recovery in North of Ireland. RFJ has proven to be a true broker for peace and justice in the North. They have supported families regardless of their religion or political affiliation. RFJ does not believe in a hierarchy of victims, they believe that we cannot let those who seek the truth be left behind.

Their important work is often threatened and impeded by the subtle forms of discrimination that still exist in the North. A new building that RFJ desperately needs to serve the communities they support sits available and vacant but funding and support is held up by bigots disguised as bureaucrats. Funding is often tenuous with workers having to be laid off while new funding is searched for. But through all of this, they preserve and thrive.

If we do not address the past then the truth will be the last victim of the troubles, and there will not be a strong foundation for the future. The future cannot be built on the lies of the past. A foundation of truth can be the only hope for the future. The work of RFJ will help cement the future of all people in the North.

Notes:

On October 14th, only three days after the cowardly British prime minister David Cameron reneged on his government’s commitments to the family of Pat Finucane, Geraldine Finucane, Pat’s widow, issued the following statement: “The world is now aware that my family and I were invited by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street earlier this week to hear his decision on the holding of an inquiry into the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. Even now, days after the event, we still feel humiliated and insulted by the ordeal we were made to endure … We cannot be expected to take the British Prime Minister’s word that it will be effective when he is reneging on a Government commitment in order to establish it. His actions prove beyond doubt that the word of British Prime Minister is not to be trusted. The case of Pat Finucane shows that British Prime Ministers no longer keep their promises.”

Geraldine Finucane has for over 20 years strived for justice and truth in the murder of her husband. Cameron’s actions and mistreatment of the Finucane family serve as a perfect example of why we still need to be cognizant of the issues that still affect the North of Ireland.

Congratulations to Dan Dennehy for hosting such a wonderful, first-class fundraising event in Manhattan to support RFJ and the Christmas Appeal.

***

Dan Dennehy, NYS FFAI Chairman, reports that the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant was a tremendous success. Co-hosted by the Brehon Law Society of NY and with the dramatic views of Manahan skyline and The Brooklyn Bridge, the event was a lively evening of music provided by AOH members Sean Griffin and Stephen Gara, excellent food and great guest speakers.

Among those who presented a contemporary view of the issues in Northern Ireland were National Vice President Brendan Moore, National FFAI Sean Pender, Steve McCabe and General Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society. Many Hibernians, including Brian Kelly, NYS Director, Aidan O’Kelly Lynch, President of the AOH Peekskill participated in the event as well as National Director Jere Cole and Mike Carroll of the Brehon Law Society.

The highlight was a  moving speech by 2011 AOH Sean McBride Award winner Clara Reilly of Relatives for Justice, who was presented with a $2,000 check from the NYS Board as part of their Christmas Appeal Fundraiser proceeds. Dan Dennehy said, “The Brehons have helped make this event a complete success, and we are excited by the prospect to working with them on many more efforts and causes in the future.”

Clara Reilly and daughter Colleen with NY and NJ AOH members at NYS AOH fundraiser; chaired by Dan Dennehy.

Dan Dennehy, Mike Glass, Mike Redmond, Colleen Reilly, Jere Cole, Clara Reilly and Sean Pender at the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant.

 

Share

2011 Christmas Appeal

I appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

In April, I received a request from the Connecticut AOH /LAOH convention to make a presentation regarding Freedom For All Ireland and specifically the yearly Christmas appeal. This request afforded me the opportunity to prepare a detailed look into the history and performance of our yearly appeal. The result was that I developed a presentation that I have been honored to present at several conventions this summer. It gives a brief history of the AOH and our support of a United Ireland, it traced our involvement and support of the struggle for Irish freedom from the end of the 19th century to today, it reviewed the groups we support, where the funds go, and why those funds are still so important.

In the last 10 years the Christmas Appeal has raised over $570,000. This is a number that we can all be proud of. An analysis of the donations show that we have a dedicated core group of donors who fund a great portion of the appeal and a participation rate from AOH divisions that is surprising low. Last year’s appeal served as a perfect case in point. The 2010 appeal generated just under $61,000 and, of that, almost two thirds — or about $40,000 — was the result of 25 donations from boards, divisions and one individual. All of these 25 donations were all over $1,000. The final $21,000 was the result of 157 donations of less than $1,000 and raffle returns of almost $2,000.  Whether the donation was $5 to $6,500 all donations are greatly appreciated and the sacrifice noted. The alarming result of this analysis is that nationally, out of 370 AOH divisions, only 96 contributed or a disappointing 25 percent.

So this year, 2011, I want to once again appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

Consider giving because: The third principle of our national constitution’s preamble states one of the purposes of our organization is: To aid and advance by all legitimate means the aspirations and endeavors of the Irish people for complete and absolute independence, promoting peace (with justice) and unity for all Ireland. Our Christmas appeal helps work toward “One Island, One Ireland with Justice for All.” Be a part of it. The groups we support are helping to build confidence and trust in cross-community and reconciliation efforts.

Consider giving because: Our job is not finished in the North until there is a United Ireland inclusive of all people’s rights. The groups we support are fighting for these rights and justice for those who have been deprived of rights and truth in the past.

Consider giving because: there are ex-republican prisoners who spent large portions of their lives unjustly jailed. They never once complained about their situation, rather these men and women have returned to the communities they were fighting for and defending, to make their communities better. These ex- prisoner groups we support continue to need our help to overcome decades of injustice and prejudice.

Consider giving because: there are ex Irish republican prisoners in this country who have never received a peace dividend for supporting the Good Friday Agreement and helping promote peace in the North. These men — even after living in this country for over two decades as model citizens, without a mark on their records, having paid taxes and raised children who are American citizens — still live with the uncertainty of never knowing when and if they could be denied continued residence. They need our continued support.

Consider giving because: there are more children in the North of Ireland today speaking the Irish language than there has been in generations. Despite the best efforts by those who continue to use subtle forms of discrimination, the Irish language is experiencing a revival in the North. The groups we support are helping continue this renaissance.

Consider giving because: a society that is evolving from over three decades of war needs support to overcome some of the collateral damage of those times. We have supported community groups who have tried to reduce suicides, fund after-school programs for the most economically deprived and provide counseling for those who still deal with the grief and the loss of many years ago.

Finally, consider giving because: if we don’t, no one else will. The sad fact of the matter is that the great majority of the groups we help do not have many other avenues for funding.  This makes the dollars they receive so critical. I do not want to take one penny away from any of the charities we support with our divisions and boards; I only ask that you make it a point this year to give something to the Christmas Appeal. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Notes: Christmas Appeal packets should be in divisions and boards by the time this edition is published, the packet will also be available online in a PDF at www.aoh.com , then from the left hand side of page choose national programs, then choose Freedom for All Ireland… Included in the packet and online will be information on the 2012 Trip to the North (formerly Bloody Sunday Tour)…. Thanks to all those divisions that donated over $1,000 to last year’s appeal for your patience in receiving your recognition award. The company that had provided the customized hurling sticks went out of business unexpectedly. All $1,000 donors have received a beautiful framed print entitled Vindicated, Bloody Sunday. A very limited amount of prints ($25) and framed prints ($75) will be available for purchase the weekend of the National President’s dinner. To reserve your copy email paddyspeed@yahoo.com ….Many thanks to the Brothers and Sisters in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland who invited me to their conventions to give the FFAI/Christmas appeal presentation ….Congratulations to Clara Reilly, the Sean MacBride award winner.

Share

Annual Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser

Cortland Manor, NY – September 28, 2011 – The New York State Freedom for All Ireland Committee of the Ancient Order of Hibernians has announced its annual Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser to be held on October 13, 2011, at Harbour Lights Restaurant located on Pier 17 of the South Street Seaport.

“The good will and outreach for the Christmas Appeal each year brings direct results to the people of the North,” said NY State FFAI Chairman Dan Dennehy, “ and helps Americans have a better understanding of the needs of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Admission is included in a minimum donation of $50 to the annual appeal, and includes music and food. There will also be a cash bar.

There will be a number of speakers on the agenda who will address the struggle for a United Ireland, including

  • Clara O’Reilly (Relatives For Justice) 2011 AOH Sean McBride Humanitarian Award Winner
  • Matt Morrison (Thar Saile)
  • Steve McCabe & General James Cullen (Brehon Law Society)
  • Sean Pender (AOH National FFAI Chair & NJ State President)

All monies donated that night will go to the AOH’s annual Christmas Appeal, which has raised and distributed over $570,000 in direct aid to the people of Northern Ireland.

Last year, the AOH was able to make donations to 21 organizations throughout Northern Ireland and the United States, including:

  • Bloody Sunday Families, Derry
  • Cairdre, Strabane
  • Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast
  • Justice for the Forgotten, Dublin & Monaghan
  • Mary’s Gift USA—for Irish speaking schools in the North
  • Omagh Basketball Club & Omagh Choir
  • Pat Finucane Center, Derry & Newry
  • Relatives for Justice, Belfast & Dungannon
  • Thar Saile, USA

For more information about the event please contact NY State FFAI Chairman Dan Dennehy at (914) 588-2710 or by email at ffai@nyaoh.com.

About the Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal:  Since 2001, the AOH’s Christmas Appeal has raised and distributed over $570K of direct aid to make positive change in the lives of many people in Ireland. Last year the Christmas Appeal was able to make donations to 21 organizations throughout the North of Ireland & USA.

 About the Ancient Order of Hibernians: Founded in 1836, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is the largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States, with almost 35,000 members nationwide and almost 10,000 in New York State. Membership is open at all men age 16 and over, who are of Irish birth or ancestry, and are practicing Catholics. For more information, please visit their website at www.nyaoh.com.com or contact Nassau County Organizer Tom Lambert at organizer@nyaoh.com.

[gview file=”http://www.nyaoh.com/andie/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/AOH-FFAI-NYS-CHRISTMAS-APPEAL-2011.pdf” save=”1″]