Sunday, 19 September 2010

Irish-Americans - They Haven't Gone Away You Know

Former President Bill Clinton
© Joe ÓNéill

A familiar refrain by your average Joe, directed at the political class in Northern Ireland is, ''stop the squabbling and get on with the job that you were elected to do''. To quote an old Bill Clinton quip, ''It's the economy stupid.'' that is foremost in the minds of your average voter, as concern for job security and bread and butter issues predominate the local political landscape, where the coalition government in Britain contemplate massive public expenditure cuts that will have severe repercussions for the Northern Ireland economy.

If there is one thing that politicians in Northern Ireland agree on, and unfortunately, this may be the only thing, then it is the importance of attracting American investment into the Northern Ireland economy.

In July, the American Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, announced that US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would host an economic conference on Northern Ireland in Washington DC this autumn. Former US President, Bill Clinton, will visit Northern Ireland on a fact-finding tour prior to the conference.

The more cynical amongst us might query the timing of this conference. Americans are due to go to the polls in November for the mid-term elections. President Obama and the Democrats face an electorate that is angry and frustrated with the lack of progress on turning the American economy around. Any and every advantage with large voting blocks is crucial to incumbent Democratic candidates. If President Obama does not realize the importance of the Irish-American vote, then you can be sure that Bill and Hillary Clinton do.

It is well to remember the previous much heralded US investment project for Northern Ireland, the Emerald Fund, launched with great fanfare in 2008, after an economic conference held in Northern Ireland. The fund, which was to provide some $150 million of investment from New York State pension funds, has to date delivered zilch. That is if you discount the reputed $3 million paid in fees to the fund's managers.

While most Irish-American political activists would be supportive of activities geared to promoting American investment in Northern Ireland, there remain those who have not taken their eye of the ball of continuing oversight of the human rights agenda, and the ending of partition.

Far less to the liking of Unionist politicians travelling to America this autumn will be the actions of activists in the American capitol, and in the State of California. Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan, who chairs the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, last week held hearings on Northern Ireland. Father Seán McManus, of the Washington based Irish National Caucus, and Aideen Gilmore, Deputy Director Committee on the Administration of Justice, testified before the subcommittee.

L-R Congressman Russ Carnahan Father Seán McManus

Father McManus said, ''He (Congressman Carnahan) deserves great credit. Irish-Americans are deeply grateful for his support of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland.''

Ms. Gilmore in her testimony to the subcommittee said, “While a lot of progress has undoubtedly been made in Northern Ireland … We would urge continued vigilance and support for the protection of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland as a means of embedding and sustaining peace. ”

Aideen Gilmore

Meanwhile in California ... a joint resolution, SJR 27, on Irish unification, by Senator Leland Yee, Democrat of San Francisco, has passed its third reading with a vote of 30 – 0.

California State Senator Leland Yee

The preamble to the resolution states, ''This measure would express the California Legislature’s strong support for Irish reunification by all peaceful means and would urge the California Congressional delegation to support the final reunification of the island of Ireland by all electoral and diplomatic means necessary.''

The resolution in full reads;

WHEREAS, The logic of history, international law, human rights, and peace dictate the reunification of the island of Ireland, and the realities of the moment, including the Good Friday Agreement and the development of the all-Ireland institutions of governance, attest to this momentum; and

WHEREAS, In the past, the State Legislature adopted the MacBride Principles for Northern Ireland and offered its informal endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement among the previously warring parties; and

WHEREAS, The contribution of Irish-born and Irish Americans to this state and to this nation are legion; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California, jointly,

That the Legislature strongly supports Irish reunification by all peaceful means and urges the California Congressional delegation to support the final reunification of the island of Ireland by all electoral and diplomatic means necessary; and be it further Resolved,

That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the President pro Tempore of the Senate, to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, and to the United States Secretary of State.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Gubernator


Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. 2 No. 3

With the passing of Labor Day, last Monday, the campaign season for the forthcoming American mid-term elections for the House of Representatives, the Senate, and State Governorships, shifted into top gear.

State of California law prohibits constitutional office holders from holding the same office for more that two terms, so incumbent Governor, Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, will end his term on January next.

Dan ÓNéill, AKA Odd Bodkins, gives his take on the Republican Governor's term in office.

Select Image for Larger Viewing

© Dan ONeill

Hugh Daniel O'Neill

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel O’Neill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a Forward to a collection of Odd Bodkins.

For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million.

When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.