Thursday, January 31, 2008

Irish Immigrant Dies Alone in Boston

A toast to an Irishman, By Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, January 31, 2008

Eddie Treacy lived in the shadows and died in his bed, the covers pulled up, his lungs full of fluid.

He was 33 years old, and there is no other way to say this: He died too young.

He came to Dorchester eight years ago from Athenry, in County Galway, part of what could be the last great wave of the young Irish to come here.

Boston is still Irish enough for a guy like Eddie Treacy to fit in. There's always enough work, and there are Gaelic games in Canton on the weekends and fresh brown bread every day at Greenhills Bakery in Adams Village.

Eddie was a master carpenter and made a decent living. For a young man, he was old school, using a simple tool called a square.

Eddie only needed one measurement for a job. Others would punch away at calculators, but Eddie would do the calculations in his head, and hand off the wood, cut precisely, like a diamond.

After a day's work, Eddie would make his way to the Eire Pub for a few jars. If the stool next to his great pal, Muldoon, was open, he would take it.

"How's Mul?" Eddie would ask.

"How's Eddie?" Muldoon would ask back.

And then they would silently watch the news on the TV set over the head of Martin Nicholson, the barman. With Eddie, there was no need for long yarns or running commentary.

Eddie was a rare Irishman, in that he was a great listener, not a great talker. If he agreed with you, he would nod, almost imperceptibly. If he thought you were full of it, he would raise an eyebrow, a silent indictment.

Like other illegal immigrants, he wanted to legalize his residency. He would have paid anything, done anything. But there was no way.

He thought about going home, as his brother Michael did, not long after Eddie first came here.

But Eddie liked it here, so he stayed on, kept his head down.

He didn't ask for much. Once, he told Muldoon he would be happy if he died in his own bed and they played "The Fields of Athenry" at his funeral. They both laughed, because young men don't think they will ever die.

Eddie died in his own bed. We will never know if it was stubborn pride or a fear of being deported that kept him from going to a hospital to treat the pneumonia that killed him. Maybe he just didn't realize how sick he was.

Gerry Treacy hadn't seen his brother in eight years, and when he finally did, Eddie was lying in a casket inside the Keaney Funeral Home on Dot Ave.

"He was a quiet lad," Gerry Treacy was saying, as he and Michael prepared to bring their brother home. "He liked the simple pleasures."

Brendan McCann, a senior at BC High, stood near the altar and played "The Fields of Athenry" on his fiddle as they wheeled Eddie Treacy's casket down the aisle of St. Brendan's Church.

All around the church, there were images of another carpenter who died at 33, nearly 2,000 years ago, another carpenter who some people dismissed as a criminal.

After Mass, about 200 people posed on the front steps of the church for a photo to send back to Eddie's mother, Ann, so she would know that Eddie mattered here. Many of the young men standing there had given up a day's wages to pay their respects.

Then everybody went to Sonny's, the pub that sponsored the Father Tom Burke hurling teams Eddie played for and managed.

Muldoon raised a glass to his friend.

"We'll never see the likes of him again," he said.

On Monday night, as President Bush told the nation that we need to find "a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally," Eddie Treacy's body was in the cargo hold of Aer Lingus Flight 132, somewhere over the Atlantic, heading home.

Eddie Treacy was buried today, where he wanted to be, in the fields of Athenry.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pulling their weight?

Why don’t we find out what our politicians are doing for our friends and family? It seems that those in Stormont are being a little more proactive than their counterparts in the South. Why don’t you phone your local politicians and ask them why this is?

Irish Times -
US candidates urged to back illegal Irish
Wed, Jan 23, 2008

Candidates for the US Presidency were today urged to pledge their support to a campaign to grant around 50,000 illegal Irish immigrants citizenship.

Letters have been sent to all Democratic and Republican candidates for the White House by Sinn Fein Assembly member Cathal Boylan urging them to resolve the plight of the undocumented Irish.

"Despite having made a positive contribution to US society, these thousands of Irish emigres find themselves classed as felons," the Newry and Armagh MLA argued.

"I have urged all of the candidates in this presidential election year, to raise the case for these hard working, law abiding Irish people to be brought into the fold of US life in a complete way, allowing them to be given an amnesty which would enable them to travel freely between their homeland and the USA without fear or penalty."

The issue of immigration has proven a hot topic on the campaign trail in the Democratic and Republican Party's White House races.

Arizona Senator John McCain, who has got off to a strong start in the hunt for the Republican nomination, has received the backing of some Irish Americans for drafting a Bill with Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy which would have created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Other Republican rivals have been more hawkish on the issue, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and ex New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attacking each other on their immigration records during debates.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has advocated the building of a 700-mile border fence to keep out illegal immigrants.

On the Democratic side, the front-runner New York Senator Hillary Clinton and her rivals Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards have pretty similar views - arguing for tighter border controls, cracking down on those who illegally employ and exploit immigrant labour and reforming the system to ensure immigrants do not have to choose between their families and a new life in the US.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Do Something!

Today’s Irish Independent announced:

Ahern plans his Congress speech

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is now expected to deliver his historic address to the joint Houses of Congress in Washington in late April or early May.

Last night, a Government spokesman gave the first indication of a date being scheduled for Mr Ahern's speech, although he stressed it is entirely up to the US side to determine when it will happen. The dates around April 28, 29, and 30 are now under discussion.
This news comes over two months on from the Dáil’s bilateral agreement to find a solution to the plight of our friends and family in the US. Unfortunately this week I was told by Fine Gael representatives that apart from one meeting on the topic in December nothing has been done.

TD Michael Ring, who brought the question to the Dáil in November, told me, “I have tabled further Parliamentary Questions for answer when the Dáil resumes at the end of the month.” While we are thankful to those in government who are trying to raise the topic it is clear that not enough is being done. At the end of January it is laughable to use Christmas Holidays as an excuse.

We are now planning a meeting of the Friends and Family in Dublin before the Taoiseach’s trip to try to gather momentum on the topic. What is needed now is for everyone to email / phone their local politicians and see what they can do. We need to act now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

US-Ireland Alliance No Ally of Irish

There's an organisation out there called the "US -Ireland Alliance" which claims that its mission is "improving ties between the American and Irish peoples".

Well someone needs to remind the president, one Trina Vargo, of that mission, because it seems as if she is intent on dis-improving those ties.

Ms Vargo has repeatedly castigated undocumented Irish immigrants in the US, and those who lobby for them, as "pigs".

It seems Ms Vargo believes that this group of immigrants should not be looking for anyone to help them in the absence of federal legislation.

Perhaps Ms Vargo could better spend her time lobbying HER OWN government on the absence of legislation rather than attacking us Irish people who are trying to help our vulnerable countrymen.

Enda Kenny Gives Us an Update

I just I got a call from Enda Kenny, opposition, Fine Gael leader following an email I sent his office in the morning. In my email I asked what was being done to help the plight of the undocumented in the US.

Mr Kenny explained to me that the Irish government has decided to prepare itself for “March when the Taosieach makes a speech in front of the American congress.” He added that he did not agree with this approach.

“By the time we get over there in March we should be in cahoots with the politicians over there,” he said. “There are politicians over in the US such as Schumer and Kennedy who are ready to talk. Mr Ahern and Dermot Ahern need to get into talks in advance.” This is exactly what we need and what we want. Now we just have to make it happen.

Mr. Kenny has assured me that he will let us know how the government is acting on the issue as time goes on. I’d like to thank Mr. Kenny again for keeping us informed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

If we talk they'll act

Are you worried about your friends and families in America?

We are. It seems as if everyone has forgotten about them in the fuss over the US elections.

There's only one issue that we care about and that's getting our families and friends legal. We've spent the weekend copying and pasting the details of the people in government and we hope you can take a minute to call your local TD.

Ask them the following question:
"What is the Government doing to help our families and friends get legal in America?"

Those in government need to act. You can find there numbers and others here -

Talk is cheap; we need action on this!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Pay Attention

It's good to see that somebody in government can remember as far back as November, when there was a bilateral agreement that "action", on the plight of the undocumented in the US, would be taken. Perhaps the politicians in the Dáil might listen to what Raymond McCarthy has to say.

Plea for States' 'undocumented'

By Staff reporter

Undocumented Irish people living in America should be recognised for their contribution to society and have their status formalised, a Derry MLA has claimed.

Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney said it was “simply wrong” that thousands of 'undocumented Irish' in America are facing an uncertain future.He said: "This is an issue that affects people right across Ireland who have family members living and working in America whom they have not set eyes on due to the restrictions on travel enforced by their undocumented status."

Politicians on this side of the Atlantic have an important role to play in pressuring the US administration to regularise the status of the thousands of Irish whose freedom of movement is presently restricted. “A collective push by all political parties to end this wrong must be a priority.”

The full article contains 139 words and appears in Foyle News newspaper.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Questioning Politicians

It’s has been all over Google for the last two days; New York Daily News, NY, Worcester Telegram, MA and USA Today. Ciaran Staunton, one of the heads of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, in the US, confronted one of the contenders for the presidential election, Mitt Romney, on his “flip flop” approach to immigration.

This is the kind of tactic which we need to use more, as a group. The politicians are answerable to us, the people. Let’s start asking them for answers. As we all know too well issues can fall better the floorboards and be ignored. It’s our job to constantly remind OUR politician who they’re working for: our friends and family.

Call your local politicians and ask them what they’re doing for your friends and families or even better call Bertie Ahern and Dermot Ahern and ask them exactly when we can expect the “action” which they promised us back in November 2007.

New York Daily News, NY

Queens Republican pours immigration anger on Mitt Romney before debate
Sunday, January 6th 2008, 4:00 AM

DERRY, N.H. - Mitt Romney's friendly warmup for the big debate Saturday turned into a dustup over immigration with a Queens saloon keeper, who toted a "No Irish Need Apply" sign.
"Have you no shame?" asked Ciaran Staunton, 44, of Sunnyside, who posed the first query at Romney's "Ask Mitt Anything" session with about 200 fans.

Staunton accused Romney of switching to a hard-line stance against immigration. He said there were 50,000 to 60,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S., "many of them mothers and fathers of American children. Just remember that they're human beings."

Romney shot back that "we simply cannot take all the people in the world who want to come to America.

"We're going to enforce the law," Romney said. "I love legal immigration, but I want to end illegal immigration."

Romney has called for border fences, biometric ID cards and cuts in federal funds to cities that fail to track illegal immigrants. He has accused Rudy Giuliani of running a "sanctuary city" as New York City's mayor.

Staunton, who runs O'Neill's pub on Third Ave., drove up to confront Romney with his sign, which stood out in the sea of supporters.

Bob Connal, 48, of Derry, backed Romney's stance and said when he travels on business to Texas, "nobody speaks English" in restaurants.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shannon deal should lead to visa deal

Quid pro quo

By Ray O'Hanlon

An anticipated deal that would result in Shannon Airport becoming a clearance facility for the U.S. Customs should be contingent on relief for the undocumented Irish in America, according to Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh.
McHugh accused the Fianna Fáil-dominated government of "once again" neglecting the undocumented Irish in the U.S. by missing "a golden opportunity" to bring up their plight with the Bush administration.
McHugh pointed to recent reports that the Irish and U.S. governments were close to a deal allowing the U.S. to use Shannon as a customs and security clearance facility but, despite the high level contacts, Fianna Fáil, he said, had "refused" to bring up the issue of the undocumented Irish.
"Once again the Irish government is going to make a deal with the
Americans over Shannon and the issue of the undocumented Irish in America has not been brought to the table. This subject was debated in the Dáil and we were assured that the government would make every effort to help those in America, but this is clearly not the case," the Donegal Dáil Deputy alleged.
McHugh said he understood that Minister Noel Dempsey and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had been in negotiations aimed at opening a U.s. security clearance and customs facility at the County Clare airport.
"Senior Fianna Fáil ministers assured us all that every opportunity would be used to promote the campaign of the Irish in the United States yet, despite this massive opportunity," Fianna Fáil neglected to bring up this issue," McHugh stated.
And he added: "Irish people are living like escaped felons in America. All they want to do is pay their taxes and be able to live their lives in a normal way. If the Fianna Fáil government cared enough, they would use this opportunity to bargain with the Americans but once again they have failed the families of those in America.
"Life as an illegal citizen is deteriorating by the week, with reports of hundreds of deportations each month. Many cannot risk coming home, even for their parents' funerals, because they will be caught and deported. If the Irish government applied enough pressure on the U.S., this deplorable situation would no longer occur."
Time and time again, said McHugh, Fianna Fáil ministers had talked a good game about fighting for the Irish in America but when push came to shove they had done nothing. "This Shannon contact is the latest example and it is the undocumented Irish who once again suffer as a result," he said.
McHugh referred indirectly to the fact that Shannon is already a major stopover for U.S. troops flying to and from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other destinations in the Middle East and Asia.
"Whether we like it or not, we helped the Americans with their war in Iraq, and it is high time we got something in return. Many will say that they invest millions in this country, but that is hardly out of goodwill. I am calling on the Fianna Fail government to help our Irish citizens in America and allow them to be home next Christmas," he said.
Expectations have been rising in recent months that the Irish government would seek to reach a bilateral visa deal with the U.S. though such a pact, some fear, would or could not actually cover the undocumented Irish.
This story appeared in the issue of January 2-8, 2008