Votes for Irish abroad referendum to be delayed again

The referendum to decide whether Irish citizens living abroad will be allowed to vote in presidential elections looks certain to be pushed back to next year.

It is the second time the referendum has been delayed. The vote was originally expected to take place in May alongside the local and European elections. It was then expected to take place later this month or in November but the Irish government has yet to name the date despite publishing the Bill last week.

While the Irish government has refused to offer an official comment, it is understood that the uncertainties of Brexit have scuppered plans to have the vote this year.

The Irish Times has reported that government sources had said that more work needed to be done to prepare for the referendum, and sources expected it would not be completed in time for a November poll.

Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon, during his visit to Australia in May, revealed that the government was worried about a ‘no’ vote.

If successful, the referendum will pave the way for Irish citizens living abroad to vote in presidential elections. The 2025 presidential election would be the first in which Irish citizens not resident in Ireland could vote.

Many expats travelled to Ireland to have their say in the same-sex marriage and abortion referenda even though, as non-residents, they are officially denied a vote.

Many expats travelled to Ireland to have their say in the same-sex marriage and abortion referenda even though, as non-residents, they are officially denied a vote.

Under the proposed change, all Irish citizens of voting age would be eligible to vote but only in presidential elections.

The government estimates that there are 3.6 million Irish citizens outside of the Republic. This figure includes the total population of Northern Ireland (approximately 1.8 million) as well as those who have not reached voting age.

Online registration and postal voting would be used to extend the franchise, according to reports in Ireland. The campaign period would also be extended to accommodate a global electorate.

Also read: Emigrants should be the focus of new diaspora policy

Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA), the primary lobby group to extend the franchise to non-resident Irish nationals, welcomed the publication of the Bill which proposes to amend Article 12 of the constitution.

“Great news that the Irish government has tonight published the bill on extending presidential voting rights, ahead of a referendum on the issue,” VICA said in a tweet.

The referendum had been originally due to take place in May, alongside the divorce referendum and the local and European elections.

However, the Cabinet in February opted to delay the presidential vote.

The Taoiseach said the possibility of the vote being contentious and the uncertainty of Brexit were factors in the decision.

Speaking at the time, Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: "It will involve a good deal of planning, it needs a good campaign and we want to win it."

Ireland is almost unique among western democracies in denying its citizens abroad a vote.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Countries like France have global constituencies for its citizens abroad and elected representatives sit in the French parliament. Australia allows its citizens abroad to vote for up to six years after leaving the country. However, you must be first registered to vote while resident in Australia.

In 2016, a Convention on the Constitution voted in favour of extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad

The possibility of citizens abroad being allowed to vote in Dáil and Seanad elections or referenda was not even considered by the convention.

When the government originally announced plans for the referendum earlier this year, there was an almost immediate backlash against the extension of voting rights.

Radio presenter and journalist Ciara Kelly wrote: “It's my view that many of the diaspora look back at the old sod with green tinted glasses and see us largely stowed in moth balls at the point at which they or their parents or grandparents left. But that is not who we are. We are a young, vibrant, outward looking, progressive, liberal country. I'm not sure that is truly recognised by our ex-pats.“

She went on: “I would stick to the old rule - no representation without taxation. No vote unless you have to live with the consequences of that vote.”

Cathay Pacific suspends Dublin service until 2020

Cathay Pacific has decided to suspend its four-times weekly Dublin service until 2020.

The Hong Kong-based carrier said that it has decided to temporarily suspend the flights from November 7 2019 to March 29, 2020.

With a difficult winter ahead, and the anti-government protests in Hong Kong showing no signs of coming to an end, the carrier has suspended flights to Dublin, Medan in Indonesia, and daytime flights to Paris and Frankfurt. The carrier has also cut the number of flights to New York, Washington and Vancouver.

The Hong Kong-Dublin route is the only direct air connection with east Asia.

Last week, Hong Kong’s biggest airline unveiled an 11.3 per cent slump in passengers compared to August last year, driven by a 38 per cent fall in people coming to the city as a result of the pro democracy protests. The decline in passengers, as a percentage, was the single biggest fall in a decade.

The pro democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have involved hundreds of thousands of people, have taken a toll on visitor numbers to the city. Picture: Vincent Yu

The pro democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have involved hundreds of thousands of people, have taken a toll on visitor numbers to the city. Picture: Vincent Yu

In a statement, Cathay Pacific said it decided to temporarily shelve the Dublin-Hong Kong service following a “careful review of the current business environment”.

“This is a difficult decision to make, but also a necessary one in view of the commercial challenges we currently face. The Dublin and Hong Kong non-stop flight will resume on 30 March 2020,” the statement said.

Cathay Pacific said it will “continue to strengthen our investments in the Irish market” through additional marketing activities over the coming months.

“Our dedicated Ireland team based in Dublin will continue to grow our brand presence, while our teams in Asia and Australia have begun tactical promotions in their respective markets targeting the summer 2020 season, for when our non-stop flight returns.

“We are confident in the long-term prospect and strength of the traffic between Ireland, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia,” the spokesperson said.

A Dublin Airport spokesman told Fora it “was disappointed that the route has been temporarily suspended for the European winter season, but it would work closely with Cathay Pacific in relation to the resumption of its direct Hong Kong service in March of next year”.

Cathay Pacific is one of four airlines offering one-stop options into Dublin from Australia. Etihad, Qatar and Emirates are the other carriers who have direct links to Dublin via Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai.






Special Killeavy homecoming for Sydney Irish family

An Armagh couple who left Ireland for Australia more than 50 years ago has been drawn back by an unbelievable family feat.

Michael and Pauline Boyle’s son Mick has lived out his fantasy of restoring a castle estate in Killeavy, which has opened as a luxury country retreat.

It was a grand homecoming for the parents, who were invited to cut the ribbon at the hotel’s opening in their home county.

Mr Boyle Snr said his son’s venture would share the magic of the area to visitors from far and wide.

“South Armagh has always been a special place for Pauline and I, and we are so happy to be able to return to open this hotel that will showcase its beauty to the world,” he said.

Michael and Pauline started their family in South Armagh before migrating to Australia in the 1960s when Mick Boyle Jnr was just five years old.

A proud Pauline and Michael Boyle officially declared Killeavy Castle open for business.

A proud Pauline and Michael Boyle officially declared Killeavy Castle open for business.

After falling into disrepair, Killeavy’s 1836 castle was purchased by the Boyles for £1.3million six years ago, with the younger generation embracing the chance to honour their origins.

The castle has since undergone extensive restoration.

The 350 acre estate is an hour’s drive from Dublin, featuring a spa, restaurant and event space, and the extensively renovated castle at its centre.

It is hoped the 45-bedroom venue will become a destination for both international travellers and those holidaying within Ireland, as well as a popular choice to host weddings and corporate events.

Earlier Story: Expat businessman’s fairytale castle project complete

Owner Mick Boyle relished in the opportunity not only to restore a “significant historic building”, but also to create local employment, with nearly 100 staff recruited.

Mick Boyle Jnr, Robin Boyle, Pauline Boyle and Michael Boyle Snr have re-established family ties to South Armagh.

Mick Boyle Jnr, Robin Boyle, Pauline Boyle and Michael Boyle Snr have re-established family ties to South Armagh.

Despite only recently opening the establishment, Mr Boyle’s wife Robin said the hotel had its sights set firmly on the future.

With the hotel situated adjacent to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Ms Boyle said they were committed to improving Ireland’s environmental conditions and embracing the nature surrounding the site.

The restaurant’s menu features ingredients foraged from the woodlands, and the owners have extensive plans to improve the vitality of the forest cover.

“We are talking with the Woodland Trust and Northern Ireland Forestry Service about a scheme we have developed to plant…an additional 100 acres of broadleaf woodlands.”

“What a gift that would be for future generations.”

Cork showcase for Indigenous chefs

Indigenous Australian chefs have shown off their culinary skills at Cork’s 2019 food festival.

Hundreds of attendees at A Taste of West Cork food festival relished the opportunity to sample Australian cuisine with a focus on native ingredients, from kangaroo and kingfish to Kakadu plum and wild hibiscus.

The Australian Ambassador to Ireland Richard Andrews selected four chefs from the National Indigenous Culinary Institute, Joshua Moore, David Gray and Sam and Luke Bourke, for the opportunity.

The fine dining school has offered Kunja and Barkindji man Mr Moore a career turnaround.

“Before this I was busking on the street, just surviving.

“Now, I am in the kitchen learning new skills.”

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

The chefs each undertake apprenticeships as part of their culinary study program, gaining experience in exclusive host restaurants including Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill and Sydney waterfront institution Catalina.

Trainees have had the chance to prepare meals for Australian prime ministers and the inimitable British restauranteur Marco Pierre White, but NICI director Rod Harys said introducing Australia’s flavours to the people of Ireland “was a fantastic highlight”.

“Along with the experiences of seeing a beautiful country, they were able to get outside of their comfort zone, adapt to new surroundings and…educate people on their Indigenous culture.”

A Taste of West Cork chairperson Hellen Collins agreed that the chefs were a “credit” to their mentors, the NICI and their country.

“Everybody in West Cork wanted to meet them…the guys worked so hard but they did manage to get a little time on the sea fishing for the foraging dinner.”

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Ms Collins said festival-goers raved about the chefs’ use of bush tucker spices and ingredients such as finger lime pearls, described by connoisseurs as the caviar of the citrus world.

The annual two-week Cork affair sees more than 250 events including banquets and food markets take place in 50 towns and villages.

The Australian chefs’ inclusion was part of a long-term plan to increase NICI representation on the world stage.





New support network for expat Irish women

Irish women in Australia have found a new network of support through the work of one Dublin-born mother.

After a decade living in Australia, having made the move at 24, Sarah Whelan returned to Ireland for less than two years before deciding to journey back to Sydney, which she realised had become her home.

When the certified transitional life coach touched down she began to share her experiences of leaving and returning online, and expat Irish women flocked to her blog.

“People were really identifying with the things I was feeling,” Ms Whelan said.

“Women identified with the emotional impact…the guilt in leaving family behind.”

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Irish Women Abroad founder Sarah Whelan aims to coach women through difficult transitions in their lives.

Ms Whelan was inspired to create Irish Women Abroad, an online support network to meet growing demand for answers and advice.

More than 3,000 network members, the majority of whom are Irish-Australian, provide everything from a shoulder to lean on to suggestions regarding every challenging aspect of emigration, from leaving relatives to transporting pets.

It was not long before the community moved off the internet and into the real world.

A recent Sydney meet-up was opened by the Irish Consulate in Sydney’s Vice Consul Rory Conaty, with the Consulate’s funding helping Ms Whelan - whose work with the network is voluntary - to organise events.

The Sydney Irish mission has provided support to Irish Women Abroad since its team members discovered Ms Whelan’s blog.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Sydney meet-up attendees enjoyed a reading from award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey.

Award-winning Irish poet Anne Casey has recently joined the network after 25 years in Australia, saying she immediately saw the potential for members to bond over shared emigration experiences.

“It’s the empty chairs at birthday parties…it’s the call in the middle of the night when a family member has died.

“You don’t have to explain anything.”

The next meet-up will be held in Melbourne in November, and with an event already planned for returning expats in Ireland, there could be opportunities for further international expansion.

Ms Whelan hopes the “safe spaces” she has created continue to help women find their feet wherever they decide to resettle.

“My vision is for people to feel connected in their experiences…there’s no right or wrong way to feel.”

Meath singer Sibéal to perform at Sydney's Zone Out Festival

An up-and-coming Irish songstress has released her debut album ahead of a trip down under.

County Meath native Sibéal Ní Chasaide will perform repertoire from her self-titled work at Sydney’s Zone Out Festival at the end of September, joining an international line up with her fresh take on Irish folk.

Sibéal is an unexpected star in the 2019 music scene, introducing audiences worldwide to sean-nós, the traditional and emotive style of singing in Ireland's Gaeltacht.

Sibeal_Press_2.jpg

The 21-year-old has said of her unique sound, “I like…bringing the contemporary edge to sean-nós singing.

“That’s who I am essentially, I’m not just a one-dimensional person.”

She also performs songs in English with Blackbird and The Parting Glass nestled among the tunes sung as Gaeilge, ensuring the eponymous album’s universal appeal.

Sibéal rose to prominence as a school student when renowned composer Patrick Cassidy heard her sing and invited her to perform vocals for a centenary documentary, 1916: The Irish Rebellion.

Sibéal discusses her journey to success.

Her live performance of Mise Éire - the moving centrepiece of the score - with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra cemented her status as one to watch.

She has since recorded at the iconic Abbey Road Studios and shared her voice with audiences in the United States, Canada and the UK, accustomed to the touring life after spending her childhood travelling with her father and uncles’ Irish folk band.

Sibéal has been called a young woman of the new Ireland returning Irish music to the international arena.

The Zone Out Festival features international and Australian neo-classical artists, yoga sessions, panel discussions and film screenings.

The event takes place at Carriageworks on Saturday, September 28.

Book Reviews: Exiles in life's strange course

When you read John Boyne’s books, it is easy to forget that he first made his name writing for young readers. Even his most famous book, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, was written for this demographic and only taken seriously when adults realised what a wonderful piece of writing it was. It is unlikely that My Brother’s Name Is Jessica will have the same impact, though it is also beautifully written.

BookreviewSept2019.jpg

The first-person narrator is Sam and we meet him first as an infant, then as a seven-year old, a 10-year old and finally as a young teenager. His hero is his older brother Jason who fills the roles in his life that his politician parents might be expected to take on. Mum is Britain’s Secretary of State with ambition to

become Prime Minister; her chief-of-staff and minder is her husband. Neither have much time to take any serious interest in what their sons are going through.

At the age of 17, Jason announces to his family that he regards himself as a girl. “I don’t think I’m your brother,” he tells Sam. “I think I’m your sister.” The story now takes the expected route through denial by his parents and even more by Sam, and merciless bullying of both boys at school.

In an attempt to make Jason change his mind, Sam cuts off his ponytail while he is asleep. The older boy is convinced that this was done by one of his parents and leaves home to live with his aunt Rose, an old hippy who accepts him and calls him Jessica. Soon after this, without doing much to make it happen, Sam finds that he has a girlfriend, a relationship that unwittingly provides the opportunity for another politician to challenge Mum for the Prime Ministership.

Though the ending is not entirely satisfactory, the story is a delight, a masterclass in creating believable situations for young people, especially those going through internal conflict. In an afterword, the author tells us that he was 20 before he could tell everyone he was gay. “And life was a million times better when I did because people will often surprise you with just how kind and supportive they can be.”

He admits, however, that for a young boy or girl to come out and say they are transgender goes to a higher level of difficulty. The reaction of parents and other siblings and school friends is usually to deny the assertion and claim that the person will get over it and that it can be overcome by some medical procedure. All of these situations and some more are dealt with in this book.

But, setting aside the seriousness of the topic, this is a marvelously funny book, full of sparkling dialogue. At one stage, Sam insists that since Jason has a willie, he must be a boy. “Sam,” shouted Mum, “no willies at the breakfast table.” “Oh, ok,” I said, “So when can we talk about them?” “We can’t” said Mum. “Why not?” ”Because they’re disgusting.” ”Ah,” said Dad quietly. “Actually that explains a lot.”

Boyne-hires-600px.jpg

This is a book that will be loved by the young readers for whom it is written. But it should be read by adults also.

________________________________

In a note at the end of this quite faultless novel, the author tells us that she is a sixth-generation descendant of a Clancy family, who were sponsored emigrants to Australia from Co Clare in the years just before the Great Famine. They settled in the Orange region of NSW, where their successors are still to be found. So it is no surprise that she names the central characters in her book Clancy and has them originally settling in that rich farming region of Australia.

She does, of course, change things for the sake of her story. For one thing, she starts her story near KIllaloe in 1851, when it could be assumed that any who had lived through the Famine years were either fortunate or had strong survival skills. In the case of the Clancy family, there was little good fortune, and it may be assumed that their assisted passage was paid by a landlord happy to have them off his hands.

That part of the story is certainly convincing as is the oppression and hardship which tenants would have to endure in order to survive, all of which is credibly covered in the story. The feel of staying close to history is sensed again in the second half of the book when the action moves to the Ballarat goldfields and the agitation that would in a short time lead to democracy in Victoria at a time when it was rare anywhere else in the world.

O'Connor-medres-600px.jpg

The other element of the story is based around Eve Richards, a young servant woman in a prosperous family in England who is abused by the son and heir and eventually transported to Australia for stealing an apple. Eve is a strong woman, but subject to the kind of sometimes subtle, often naked cruelties of the age. That she survives may be regarded as a contrived set of circumstances, but by the time that happens, the reader is engrossed in her troubles and quite delighted that, polished English accent notwithstanding, she is rescued by one of the Irish Clancy clan.

The first portion of the story is set in Killaloe and Liverpool, but the action seems more authentic after it moves to Sydney and Parramatta, Orange and finally to Ballan, Ballarat and Warrnambool in Victoria.

It is a reminder that even as late as the second half of the 19th Century, there was a widespread regime of repression and cruelty in early Australia.

The author coaxes the reader into sympathy with her main characters and has few agreeable ones on the official side of Irish or

colonial society, either as navy, military, police

or civilian. A reader may be surprised at how thoroughly absorbed he/she becomes in the fortunes of the characters, as much at an emotional level – keep some tissues to hand – as at a practical or material one.

This is writing of the highest quality, keeping the reader involved from the first.

Returning emigrants now counted as 'immigrants'

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) now officially counts Irish citizens returning to live in the country as ‘immigrants’.

The CSO, the official statistician for the Irish government, used the term in its latest report on Population and Migration.

In a statement accompanying the report, statistician James Hegarty wrote: “In the year to April 2019, Irish nationals accounted for 26,900 (30.4 per cent) of the 88,600 immigrants to Ireland and 29,000 (52.8 per cent) of the 54,900 emigrants from Ireland.”

Asked to explain why Irish citizens were being called ‘immigrants’, Mr Hegarty said the CSO was using the “Eurostat definition for both immigration and emigration”. He said that for the purposes of reporting migration patterns, nationality was not taken into account.

Nationality is not taken into account when counting immigrant numbers into Ireland.

Nationality is not taken into account when counting immigrant numbers into Ireland.

“The act of immigration/emigration describes the action that a person undertakes and is not specific to any particular nationality,” Mr Hegarty said in a statement.

“While the majority of Irish nationals moving to Ireland will be returning former residents, there may also be a cohort of Irish nationals/citizens moving to Ireland for the first time. The Eurostat definition accommodates both of these situations.”

The government was asked for comment on the terminology but no response was received by deadline.

Emigrants returning to live in Ireland have complained about being treated “like immigrants”, especially when trying to resume access to social or government services, or while going through the process of satisfying the Habitual Residency Provision.

Also read: Irish changes rules for de facto partners

These concerns, and other specific problems associated with the decision to return to live in

Ireland, prompted the Government to commission a report, which was completed in February 2018.

The subsequent report, produced by Indecon, identified many real challenges encountered by returning emigrants and made 30 recommendations, only a handful of which have been adopted by the government.

The CSO report found that an estimated 29,000 Irish nationals emigrated in the year to April 2019 compared with 26,900 who returned to the country.

There was a surge in emigration to Australia, as the numbers leaving Ireland for the country increased by 2,000 to 6,500 in the year to April 2019 – a figure last recorded in 2015.

The numbers heading to Australia had been declining or remained flat in the intervening period. The number of people returning to Ireland or emigrating from Australia declined from 7,200 to 5,800.

Dara Ó Briain renews love affair with Australia

One of Ireland’s best loved comics is back in Australia.

Dara Ó Briain is well known from British television shows such as Mock the Week and The Apprentice You’re Fired but he was familiar to Irish audiences long before that from shows like Don’t Feed the Gondolas and The Panel.

Fast-talking, charismatic, incredibly sharp and intelligent as well as very, very funny, Ó Briain brings his Voice of Reason tour to Australia this week.

The Bray native has long held a great affection for Australia and almost moved to Melbourne at one point, he reveals.

“I had a couple of big years in Australia when I was much younger as a comic. I came over for the Melbourne Festival, did the Adelaide Fringe and I genuinely thought I was going to be spending a lot of time in Australia.

Ó Briain with actor Kenneth Branagh at an Embassy of Ireland function in London. Picture: Jeff Spicer

Ó Briain with actor Kenneth Branagh at an Embassy of Ireland function in London. Picture: Jeff Spicer

“I even looked at buying a flat in Melbourne. I totally fell for the place and then I didn’t go back for 16 years because of work.

“I got screwed over by RTE at home basically: ‘No, no, no, don’t go to Australia because we’re definitely going to do a thing with ya’. And I lost out on the Melbourne Festival because RTE promised me to do something.

“Basically it got to a point in my life where it was difficult to justify to my new wife why I would spend three months partying in Australia so it became less of a priority and it became a distant thing until a few years ago when i went back again.

“It was like, ‘where have you been all my life?’ It was fantastic but it was very different to go from playing a small room at a comedy festival in Melbourne to doing two nights in the Opera House in Sydney which is what we did last time. That was like, ‘Okay, this is great, I haven’t had to do any work to get this but I’m in the Opera House, fantastic’. Australia’s golden, glorious for me. I love it to bits.”

It was in 2017 that the now 47-year-old was last here to do those two shows at Sydney Opera House as well as gigs in Melbourne and Perth.

O’Briain almost moved to Melbourne 16 years ago.

O’Briain almost moved to Melbourne 16 years ago.

He constantly met the young Irish in Australia at the time and empathised with them and the dreaded farm work requirement for those who want to extend their stay.

“There was a bit of irritation over their whole 88 days. The opening line I had was, ‘Hello Sydney, I’m going to Melbourne, then I’ve got to do 88 days working on a farm, then I’ve got a show in Perth’. That was the opening line that I had and that got a huge laugh from the Irish, all of whom were trying to avoid doing 88 days working on a farm.

“The audience was one third Irish, one third British and one third Australian so it made kind of an interesting tension to play with.

“You couldn’t just fall back on the idea of it being an Irish expat crowd, that kind of, ‘oh my God, remember the old days?’ Luckily I don’t have to do that so it keeps you fairly honest.

“The (Australian) audiences are not that different, they’re storytellers like the Irish.”

Ó Briain may be familiar from his television presenting, and has been announced as the host of a forthcoming revamped Blockbusters, but his own stand-up shows allow him more freedom.

“Mock the Week, the panel show is great fun to do because you’re amongst friends ... but in terms of delivering the best comedy I can do, that happens when I’ve got you for a while, when I’ve got you for the evening. When I’ve got you for two halves of the show, I know I can set something up at the start that pays off an hour and a half later.

“When you’re doing a panel show, it’s really in and then out of there and that’s great, great for getting gags out, gags rather than stories.

Also read: Orange Is The New Black actor to star in Martin McDonagh play

“On stage, you really come across as who you are, personality-wise and can play with that. I have their attention now and instead of going boom, boom, boom with the jokes, I’m going to set them up and the dominoes will fall later. Especially as I’ve been doing it for so long now, the shows work in a complicated way.”

His Voice of Reason show has been described as a reflection on some of mid-life’s mundanity with some topical issues like Brexit thrown in.

He’s reluctant to reveal much about his material, an exercise he likens to a band describing an album.

“Do you know what? I hope to never have to describe the show because it’s kind of like a band having to describe an album: ‘Well, there’s a couple of fast ones, a couple of slow ones, hope you’ll like it’. Comedy shows are a bit like that. Towards the end, it feels a lot more connected than it was earlier on but some of it will be off the cuff.

“It will be the 167th time I’ve done the show so to be frank, if it isn’t working by now, I don’t deserve to be up there.”

Dara Ó Briain plays Brisbane on September 11, Sydney on September 14 and Melbourne on September 16.

President challenged in Celtic Club election

The candidate challenging incumbent Celtic Club president Brian Shanahan in the forthcoming election has told The Irish Echo that he does not want to smear his opponent.

But Peter Donnellan, who heads up a group of concerned members dubbed ‘Dire Straits’, does believe the club is being mismanaged.

“None of our pieces of work say anything about particular individuals. None of the things that we put out say bad things about people,” he said.

Current Celtic Club President Brian Shanahan.

Current Celtic Club President Brian Shanahan.

“I think if people felt like they were included, there wouldn’t be the level of antagonism and name calling and this sort of stuff that has been going on in the place for a long time.

“If the sale [of the club’s premises] had gone according to the way sales should proceed instead of trying to bluster and force their way through it like some sort of rugby pack, you would say, ‘right, we’ll probably give it a go’.

“I think a lot of the dissension is caused by the methodology and the abuse and so forth that happens simply if you disagree. You’re perceived as an enemy by nature if you disagree. Because our team don’t agree and they put their heads above the barricades, they’re there to be knocked off. I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think it’s productive for the club in the long term or in the short term.”

Mr Donnellan also says his team is just looking for greater transparency within the club. Mr Donnellan says his ‘Dire Straits’ team want to open up club meetings to all members and provide information of these meetings to members who are not present. They also promise to provide regular financial statements and protect members’ rights.

“We’re pretty sure that Brian probably has the numbers and good luck to him but we have a responsibility to say, ‘this stuff can’t keep going on’.

“At the moment we can’t get a list of club members to send stuff to. That’s against the spirit of the act and it’s not within the spirit of the club rules so it’s very hard to get anything directly to members.”

In response to Mr Donnellan’s comments, Mr Shanahan insisted that material put out by the ‘Dire Straits’ team had mentioned people by name.

On the topic of getting electoral

information to members, Mr Shanahan said all candidates had the same opportunity to connect with members. “All members standing for committee are invited to provide a statement of up to 200 words and a photograph to the returning officer and it will be sent to all club members at the club’s expense,” he said.

“This is a long standing practice at the Club, and all candidates should have received this information.

“The mail out of this information would be expected to commence some days after the draw for ballot positions is undertaken by the returning officer or his representative. The ballot draw has not yet happened. The assistant returning officer. has advised that all candidates will have their 200 word statements and photographs (once provided) sent to all members in the next two weeks, as is the usual practice.”

On the suggestion there was no business plan and that members are given no indication of how the club is doing and its plans, Mr Shanahan said: “The Club has a budget for 2019/20, which is break even, or a small profit. On top of this, we have assets in excess of $18 million and no debts. After considerable efforts, we were successful in reducing our operation losses, and we are confident of a small profit in 2019/20.

“Furthermore, at the recent confidential members only meeting, attended by ‘Dire Straits’, the Celtic Club’s future strategy and business plans were discussed in detail by me and other committee of management (COM) members. Club members can be allowed to attend COM meetings if they request to do so, there is no blanket ban. Obviously there is a need for discretion as some matters are sensitive and confidential.”

Peter Donnellan is challenging for the Celtic Club presidency.

Peter Donnellan is challenging for the Celtic Club presidency.

The club’s headquarters at Queen Street were sold to Malaysian developer Beulah for $25.6 million in 2016 but the club held onto the option to return to Queen Street when it is

refurbished in two to three years’ time. In the meantime, the Celtic Club’s temporary home for functions and entertainment is at the Metropolitan Hotel, Courtney St, North Melbourne with an administration centre on William St, West Melbourne.

Mr Donnellan insisted that the members were concerned about the lease arrangement.

“We’re told the Metropolitan lease is now on a month-to-month basis whereas we thought the club had a five-year by five- year lease,” he said.

“However, if we’re on a month-to-month lease, the club has lost money on the Metropolitan. It’s not regularly open [so] why don’t we get rid of the Metropolitan and find ourselves a better venue?

“There hasn’t been a business plan, not to my knowledge. There’s been nothing that says: ‘This is what we plan to do, this is what we’ve got, this is how we plan to make some money and move forward.’ The club’s capital is just disappearing. There is no allegation other than mismanagement that we’re making but we have no knowledge at all how things are going and why we’re losing money.

“The sale of the club caused a lot of anxiety within the club and a lot of fighting that probably could have been handled better by every side,” said Mr Donnellan, who served on the committee as secretary.

“I resigned over the non-implementation of governance and accountablity and financial reforms. People wanted to carry on and get things back to some sort of new normal but it didn’t work so I left. There’s a degree of disarray at the club.”

Committee elections are coming up on September 20. The new committee will then take over after the AGM, which is usually in October.

“I expect our votes to go up and from Brian’s team’s reaction, I would expect that they do feel challenged, Mr Donnellan said. “I think they’re concerned that what we’re saying is biting into their base.”

The Irish Echo reported last month that grievances against the Melbourne Celtic Club were coming from a website called The Continuity Celtic Club and that this and the ‘Dire Straits’ team were one and the same. This was incorrect. The website had just posted the ‘Dire Straits’ team’s newsletters and the ‘Dire Straits’ team has nothing to do with the website.

Statue of Irish-born NSW Premier gets green light

Thousands of passers-by will soon have the chance to refresh their knowledge about the Irish namesake of Sydney’s Martin Place.

A lifesized bronze statue of the immigrant turned three-time NSW Premier Sir James Martin will be erected in the pedestrian mall after the City of Sydney art committee’s decision to decline the proposal was overturned.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning Minister Rob Stokes intervened to encourage Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the committee not to throw out the project.

Prolific Australian sculptor Alan Somerville completed both the Parramatta and Martin Place renditions of James Martin as a boy.

Prolific Australian sculptor Alan Somerville completed both the Parramatta and Martin Place renditions of James Martin as a boy.

James Martin was born in 1820 in Midleton, Cork, where there have been have been similar demands for his recognition with local historian Ged Martin (no relation) calling for a plaque to honour the expatriate.

Cork-born James Martin, after whom Martin Place in Sydney is named.

Cork-born James Martin, after whom Martin Place in Sydney is named.

After sailing to Australia in 1821 Martin grew up in a cottage adjacent to Old Government House, where his father was employed as a stable boy, and despite the family’s poverty sacrifices were made to send him to the prestigious Sydney College.

He would go on to become a journalist, editor, author and attorney before his political career took off, initially seeing him become the member for Cook and Westmoreland.

After two stints as attorney-general, Martin became Premier for the first time in 1863.

Despite his ministry losing power in 1864, Martin would have two more chances to hold the position, during which he pioneered the establishment of a branch of the royal mint in Sydney.

Raised by strongly Catholic Irish parents, Martin’s personal faith wavered over the years, yet he fought for a society based on Christian principles throughout his political life.

He retained his parents’ family focus, having 15 children with wife Isabella Long.

The bronze will replace an existing plinth in Martin Place, while there is already a statue in Parrammatta recognising Martin’s formative years spent there.

Both artworks were completed by sculptor Alan Somerville, famed for the soldiers that stand proudly on the ANZAC bridge.

Joy for Irish family as son receives donor heart

A three-year-old boy with rare medical conditions has been handed a new lease of life after receiving a donor heart.

David Hope Glass, whose father Liam Glass hails from Tyrone, underwent an eight hour transplant operation, his sixth open heart surgery in his short life.

“We got the call in the early hours…I dropped to my knees,” Mr Glass said.

“We’re feeling very excited but guilty for the family that’s lost their child.”

David Glass is recovering well on immunosuppressant drugs after his heart transplant.

David Glass is recovering well on immunosuppressant drugs after his heart transplant.

While the Glass family were not able to contact the family who provided the donation, they “bless them abundantly” for giving their child the greatest gift.

After months living at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, the Glass family had been allowed to move into a nearby apartment three weeks prior to the transplant, but with just one quarter of David’s own heart functioning his parents had been told to prepare for palliative care if he relapsed.

He is now recovering well on immunosuppressants, which are preventing his body from attacking the foreign transplanted organ.

The young boy had never recuperated so rapidly from a surgery, his dad said.

Earlier Story: Tyrone Dad’s appeal for suffering son

Parents Liam and Cindy Glass have relocated their children David and Bella to Melbourne for their son’s treatment. Photo: Adrienne Myszka.

Parents Liam and Cindy Glass have relocated their children David and Bella to Melbourne for their son’s treatment. Photo: Adrienne Myszka.

“He was always blue to look at, now we see pink lips…he’s like a new boy,” his father said.

Relatives in Tyrone not only prayed for an end to the turbulent times, but also organised local fundraisers which, at the Glass family’s request, will help not only David but other children facing medical emergencies.

“There’s no stopping these people,” Mr Glass said.

“They’ve rallied around us.”

Tyrone locals gathered for a community football game to raise money for David Glass’ cause.

Tyrone locals gathered for a community football game to raise money for David Glass’ cause.

The family, who call Adelaide home, have been supported by friends and strangers alike in Australia and abroad since David’s birth, with recent assistance from Melbourne’s Irish Australian Support and Research Bureau.

Since his life-saving surgery, the three-year-old’s parents have been looking forward to the future, hoping to take their children to visit Liam Glass’ Ireland hometown in coming years.

“We’ve started to dream.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Glass family meet the costs of David’s care and recovery.




Governor-General traces Irish ancestry to Cork village

David Hurley was sworn in as Australia’s 27th Governor-General in July 2019.

David Hurley was sworn in as Australia’s 27th Governor-General in July 2019.

Australia’s newly-appointed Governor-General has traced his Irish roots to a Cork village.

Governor-General David Hurley was able to uncover his family history through the work of dedicated genealogical volunteers.

“I’ve discovered that Murtagh Hurley was transported from County Cork to New South Wales in 1827 for theft…he settled near Cooma,” General Hurley said.

Murtagh is thought to have come from Ballinspittle, the village famed for the first sighting in a string of moving statue phenomena in Ireland over 30 years ago.

“Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that the pub in Ballinspittle is called Hurley’s,” General Hurley said.

“We hope to visit one day!”

Governor-General David Hurley and his wife Linda have swapped Sydney’s Government House for Canberra.

Governor-General David Hurley and his wife Linda have swapped Sydney’s Government House for Canberra.

The Governor-General acknowledged that the formative links forged in his ancestors’ time continued to influence the bond between Australia and Ireland that exists today, with more than two million Australians claiming Irish heritage.

“Today, our historical links are the foundation of an exceptionally close and ongoing friendship between our nations, with bonds ranging from the sporting field, to trade and education.”

General Hurley personally experienced this affiliation early in his career in the Royal Australian Regiment, going on exchange to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The former Governor of NSW recalled the achievements of esteemed Irishmen, from the “transformational” work of his predecessor, Dublin-born Sir Richard Bourke who held the role from 1831 to 1837, to the skill of a more unlikely hero.

“More recently, and on a totally different tack, as a rugby fan I always admired Keith Wood, even if I wasn’t such a big fan when he was facing the Wallabies!”

The Governor General hopes to visit Hurley’s Bar in Ballinspittle. The pub first opened in 1864.

The Governor General hopes to visit Hurley’s Bar in Ballinspittle. The pub first opened in 1864.

Ireland Reaching Out’s Laura Colleran said the Consul General of Ireland in Sydney Owen Feeney contacted the organisation to find out more about the Governor-General’s lineage.

“Ireland Reaching Out connects people of Irish origin, living all over the world, with their ancestors place of origin...It is a non-profit organisation funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Heritage Council,” Ms Colleran said.

“We have a volunteer network of over 300 people all over Ireland, and an active group in County Cork.”

Volunteers (pictured) working for Ireland Reaching Out - also known as IrelandXO - link the Irish diaspora with their places of origin.

Volunteers (pictured) working for Ireland Reaching Out - also known as IrelandXO - link the Irish diaspora with their places of origin.

Ms Colleran described uncovering the roots of the Hurley name as one of the highlights of the year for volunteers.

Irish-Australians have embraced the opportunity to reconnect with both their place of origin and family members still living in Ireland, with 87 groups of Australians returning to their ancestral lands with the help of Ireland Reaching out in 2019.

Win passes to see Dublin movie Animals

Animals, directed by Australian Sophie Hyde, opens nationally on September 12.

The movie, based on the novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, is shot entirely in Dublin and showcases the Irish capital’s growing reputation as a cool, cosmopolitan city.

“Dublin is a very vibrant city. It's very romantic,” director Hyde said.

“It can be quite raw and rough as well. It has a kind of old world and a new world charm all at the same time, and it would be easy to be distracted there. It's very social. And yet, there's this great love of writers and literature.

“So it was a very perfect city to set our girls' world in because all of those things combine, and there is a history of lauding these great writers and loving the idea of drinking and the party and being in the world in a certain way.”

The film is a fierce and unapologetic celebration of female friendship, an intmate, funny and bittersweet examinaton of the challenges of turning talent into action, and being a modern woman, with faults, longings and competing desires

Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger play best friends Tyler and Laura in Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde.

Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger play best friends Tyler and Laura in Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde.

Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) have been flatmates and best friends for 10 years, marauding around the streets of Dublin, rejectng the expectatons that bombard modern women and actng purely on desire.

For Tyler, this is the best version of life, even with the inevitable hangovers, but when Laura's (younger) sister Jean gets pregnant... on purpose... Laura panics.

Should she still be partying into her mid-thiries? And where has her supposed talent as an aspiring writer got her, apart from notebooks full of scribbles?

In an inky-dark bar she meets rising-star pianist Jim, who falls for Laura’s wit and passionate attitude to life, and the two soon become engaged.

Inspired - or maybe intimidated - by teetotaler Jim’s commitment to his work, Laura knuckles down to finish the novel she’s been writng for a decade.

Tyler, however, is convinced that marriage is the wrong thing for Laura and that her literary success depends on a life of excess, adventure and - crucially - variety... startng with the devilishly handsome Marty.

Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat and Irish actor Fra Fee in a scene from Animals.

Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat and Irish actor Fra Fee in a scene from Animals.

As Laura tries to balance these precarious pieces of her life, she only makes things worse.

Can she really have it all? Or is her life of debauchery with Tyler ruining her attempts to create something meaningful?

As Laura struggles to come to grips with what it is that she really wants, she begins to realise that living a life for herself might mean leaving someone else behind.

Alia Shawkat, who plays Tyler, said she loved shooting in Dublin.

“I love Dublin. I'm so happy that the film ended up here. I think it's a special place. Very special. It feels like a small town that I can't believe I never knew about before. It's like a big city at a small town. And yeah, the Guinness is great, people are nice. It rains a little too much, but makes the sun more worth it.”

We have ten double in-season passes to see Animals, which opens around Australia on September 12. To be in with a chance to win a free double pass, just fill in the entry form below. All entrants will be added to our Irish Echo email newsletter database.

Name *
Name
In which city was Animals shot? *


Sinéad Flanagan wins Rose crown for Limerick

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Limerick doctor Sinéad Flanagan has been crowned the 2019 International Rose of Tralee.

The 27-year-old was chosen from 32 young women who travelled from all over the world to the Kerry town for the annual festival.

She told host Dáithí Ó Sé: "I think you can tell by me I'm a bit shocked alright!" 

Flanagan described the experience as "amazing".

"It's Limerick's year," she said backstage. "We've had the All-Ireland, the league, the Munster final and now the Rose of Tralee.”

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

The new Rose grew up in Mungret and now lives in Adare, Co Limerick. After qualifying as a physiotherapist at University of Limerick, she studied Medicine in University College Cork and graduated in 2018.

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

Australia sent three representatives this year. Perth, Queensland and Darwin were not represented in 2019 after organisers limited numbers by introducing a rotation system for the first time.

Sydney’s representative was 24-year-old speech pathologist Rebecca Mazza. Born and raised in Perth, she moved to Sydney to pursue her career after completing her masters.

Limerick-born Jordan Balfry represented Melbourne. The 28-year-old occupational therapist is a recent arrival in Australia having moved to the Victorian capital two years ago.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendrick Buchanan was also born in Ireland but moved to Adelaide aged 11. Cork-born and raised in Dingle, Hendrick Buchahan is studying to be a primary schoolteacher.

Arizona Rose Kayla Gray made history during the pageant after becoming the first Rose of Tralee contestant to get a tattoo backstage during the televised finals.

There was controversy ahead of the televised event after Newstalk radio presenter Susan Keogh criticised the show’s host Daithi Ó Sé who claimed the Rose concept ‘empowered women’.

Ms Keogh said she had “never heard such bulls**t” and that the idea it empowered women was a “complete oversell”.

She asked: “Where is the body diversity. Will you see any fat roses?”.

Keogh also questioned where were the Roses from the Travelling community, the homeless and from direct provision. “It does not represent modern Ireland, “ she said.

She also asked why the women who do not have degrees are not represented in the live final.

But 2018 winner Kirsten Mate Maher fiercely defended the festival, saying: “I don’t have a degree, I haven’t set foot in college yet”.

The Waterford Rose is from a diverse family background. Her father is a former Zambian army officer; her mother is from Waterford.

“She (Ms Keogh) is attention-seeking ... I think it is really nasty and her views are wrong,” she said.