The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform ramped up their campaign in the US on Friday with a meeting in the White House with Ed Gillespie, the top advisor to President George W Bush.
Pictured left to right are; ILIR Executive Director Kelly Fincham, Vice-Chairman Ciaran Staunton, White House Counsellor Mr Gillespie, Chairman Niall O'Dowd, and ILIR Consultant Bruce Morrison.
We met Mr Gillespie to discuss a limited immigration reform package which could include an Irish element among its provisions. Chairman Niall O'Dowd said the meeting, which was set up by senior figures in the Republican Party in the US, was one of the most positive developments in recent times.
"We had a very constructive meeting at the White House with the President's top adviser, Ed Gillespie," he said.
"We had a wide-ranging discussion on Irish immigration and we made a concrete proposal to the White House which they have agreed to consider.
"Mr Gillespie was extremely knowledgeable on the issue and we look forward to future meetings with the White House," he said.
Mr Gillespie is the highest-ranking assistant to President Bush and is believed to be the "Mr Fixit" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr Gillespie, whose father emigrated from Donegal, began his career on Capitol Hill as a parking attendant at the Senate car park.
In 2006, Mr Gillespie penned a Wall Street Journal editorial in support of a comprehensive immigration reform package in which he said: "The Republican Party cannot become an anti-immigration party."
Mr Gillespie, who assumed some of former Karl Rove's job in the White House, has been widely praised for his role in orchestrating a rapid-response PR unit dedicated to helping sell the "surge" in the Iraq war in the US.