Irish Australia

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.”

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.

Federal Court decision: Irish ex-bikie to be deported

The Federal Court has thrown out an Irish ex-bikie’s appeal to avoid deportation.

Dublin-born Paul Pennie, who has lived in Australia for 40 years, said his representations in favour of having his visa reinstated had not been given “proper, genuine and realistic” consideration by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton in his first Court hearing.

These included fears he would experience homelessness, unemployment, and lack of medical care for his mental health and heart issues if returned to Ireland.

Appeal judges Justice Davies, Derrington and Colvin disagreed, declaring, “no error is discernible in the primary judge’s reasons.”

“The minister accepted that he may experience significant difficulties…but was of the view that Mr Pennie would have a level of access to healthcare, social welfare and housing comparable to that which is available in Australia.”

The appeal judges agreed with the original judgement not to reinstate Mr Pennie’s visa.

The appeal judges agreed with the original judgement not to reinstate Mr Pennie’s visa.

Mr Pennie filed submissions stating that the views expressed by the Minister were incorrect, given that he would not be eligible for job seekers allowance or state pension in Ireland as he has lived in Australia since childhood, however the appeal judges found the minister had “no legal duty” to ensure the 46-year-old would be entitled to welfare.

Earlier Story: ‘It will destroy us’, family speaks out about son’s imminent deportation

The judges said the minister’s concerns that the Irish-Australian was at risk of engaging in further criminal conduct were reasonable, as although Mr Pennie said he had severed ties with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, those involved with the outlaw group were still pressuring him to reoffend.

“In those circumstances, it was open to the minister to reason that separation from the Club was ongoing…not completed.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said ‘non-citizens’ who engage in criminal activity or other serious conduct of concern such as involvement in outlaw motorcycle gangs “can expect to have their visas considered for cancellation”.

Mr Pennie was sentenced to prison in 2015 for possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply, leading to the cancellation of his visa in 2016.

Following his appeal dismissal Mr Pennie wrote on Facebook from a Perth detention centre that the “putrid system” was destroying families’ lives.

The Pennie family said Paul (left) struggled to cope after the sudden death of his brother Keith (right).

The Pennie family said Paul (left) struggled to cope after the sudden death of his brother Keith (right).

His father Gerry Pennie said the decision had left Paul and the family devastated: “He just can’t get himself together, he couldn’t even talk to me...”

In a letter to Minister Dutton, Gerry Pennie wrote, “We have already been forced to endure…burying our youngest son Keith.

“Should you cancel Paul’s visa, we would again be put through the unbearable grief of losing yet another one of our children.”

Mr Pennie said his son had contributed to society through hard work since his teens, holding jobs as a hospital attendant and security guard, and was prepared to atone for his wrongdoing.

Paul Pennie will leave behind his elderly parents, sisters, and nieces and nephews when he leaves Australia in late November.

Famine monument remembrance event marks 20 years

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The glass panels of Sydney’s Famine Memorial feature the names of Irish orphan women settled in Australia between 1848 and 1850.

The 20th annual commemoration at the Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine takes place later this month.

Due to a major refurbishment and upgrade of the exhibition spaces at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and installation of a lift, the Museum is closed until late in 2019.

This means that the annual event will be different this year, starting with a symposium entitled Looking Forwards And Remembering commencing at 10am at the nearby Mint Building in Macquarie Street.

Afterwards, attendees will congregate in front of the Hyde Park Barracks’ Famine Memorial for the annual commemoration.

Historian and genealogist Dr Perry McIntyre said the Irish community were the driving force behind building the monument in 1995.

“It reminds them of their roots and historical connections to Ireland,” she said.

The monument is dedicated to over 4,000 Irish orphan girls and women who were resettled under a transportation plan during the Great Famine.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

The National Monument to the Great Irish Famine was completed in 1995.

Unmarried women and girls, left alone and destitute by the catastrophe, arrived in Australia between 1848 to 1850 under former British Prime Minister Earl Grey’s Orphans scheme.

The girls and women came from all 32 counties to meet Australia’s need for both female labourers and mothers in the male-dominated colony.

Dr McIntrye said these women remained influential in the cultural heritage of the Australian community today.

“We are in contact with at least several thousand descendants and my estimation is that there would be at least 500,000 people descended from these 4,114 girls, even if they don't know about this aspect of their genealogy.”

The Annual Commemoration usually commences at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum on Macquarie Street, the site where orphans who were sent to Sydney were housed.

For this year’s Commemoration on August 25, descendants of the orphan immigrants are invited to wear a lapel label indicating their ancestor’s name, home county, and the ship they journeyed on.

Symposium attendees will hear from both the Vice Consul-General of Ireland Rory Conaty and Dr McIntyre, giving insight into how the story of the young women rescued from the Famine continues to influence Australia’s cultural landscape today.

Fairwater coup for Irish Australian charity

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Past Ireland Funds Australia Chairman Alan Joyce and current Chairman John O’Neill (right) joined TV personality Richard Wilkins at 2017’s Garden Party.

Australia’s most expensive house will once again host the Ireland Funds’ flagship fundraiser following its purchase by a tech billionaire.

The Garden Party fundraiser has been held at Sydney’s Fairwater estate 27 times in the last 30 years, the Ireland Funds’ Executive Director Teresa Keating saying the late Lady Mary Fairfax’s personal connection with the charity had inspired her “amazing generosity” in allowing use of the harbourside property.

“Tony O’Reilly founded the Ireland Funds…he had a publishing background and he met Lady Fairfax at a publishing conference in New York,” Ms Keating said.

“They got on very well, and she offered for the Ireland Funds to use her property in Australia.”

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

Tech billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian in 2002.

After Lady Fairfax’s death in 2017, the property was purchased by enterprise software company Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes as a family home.

The 1.121 hectare estate on Sydney Harbour, owned by the Fairfax family since Federation, is understood to have been purchased for close to $100 million, making it Australia’s most expensive house.

Atlassian’s co-founder Scott Farquhar bought the neighbouring Elaine estate.

The future of the Garden Party at the iconic location was thrown into doubt after the sale, Ms Keating explaining, “we had no history with the new owners.”

The Cannon-Brookes family, however, chose to invite the Ireland Funds to use the venue again.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

The Fairwater estate was owned by the Fairfax family for over 100 years.

“It’s a real coup for us and the supporters that the new owners have invited us back,” Ms Keating said.

The 2018 Garden Party raised over $200,000 for key causes including integrated education, community development, and peace and reconciliation in Ireland, and Ms Keating is confident this year’s gathering will be just as successful.

“It’s a chance for supporters who have…spread their wings to give back through the Ireland Funds in Australia.”

‘It will destroy us’, family speaks out about son’s imminent deportation

The Irish family of a former Bandidos bikie is despairing at their son’s imminent deportation from Australia under a controversial policy.

Paul Pennie, 46, is awaiting a Federal Court appeal hearing to determine if he will be sent back to a country he barely knows after being sentenced to prison on charges including possession of methylamphetamine with intent to supply.

The Pennie family migrated to Australia in 1980 when Paul was only six. His father Gerry is worried his son’s deportation will have a devastating effect on the close-knit family.

“It would destroy us,” he said.

“He doesn’t know anyone in Ireland.”

Earlier Story: Irish-born ex-bikie faces deportation under controversial policy

Mr Pennie said his son’s battles, which ultimately led to his visa being cancelled in 2016, stemmed from the sudden death of his younger brother and a workplace injury that left him unable to continue his job as a security guard.

The Australian government deported more than 1,000 people between 2016 and 2018 on character grounds, a policy recently criticised by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

The issue was having a “corrosive” impact on Australia’s relationship” with New Zealand, Ms Ardern said. She argued that deportations should not be enforced after an individual has lived in a country for 10 years.

Gerry Pennie emphasised that his son had never been charged with or engaged in violent crime, and had severed ties with the Bandidos bikie club.

“I know him as my son. He has never laid a hand on anybody. Never,” Mr Pennie said.

His son was allegedly nearly bashed to death by fellow bikie-connected inmates in prison after he refused to participate in a stabbing, his father said.

The Irish-Australian suffers from both mental health issues and heart disease, and is concerned about his ability to access and afford treatment should he be deported.

During Mr Pennie’s 2018 Federal Court hearing, the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Petter Dutton, said he accepted that Mr Pennie’s deportation would potentially exacerbate his psychological conditions “given his history of depression and suicidal ideation”, but that he would likely be able to access health support in Ireland as a habitual resident.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

It is uncertain if Mr Pennie would satisfy the conditions necessary to be eligible for social assistance, because factors considered by Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection include the applicant’s intention to live in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

Mr Pennie has no desire to live in Ireland, where he has no ties, and his family is concerned he would not be able to independently establish a new life or find accommodation having been either incarcerated or in a detention centre since 2015.

Paul Pennie has guaranteed work with a friend’s lawn-mowing business if he is allowed to stay in Australia, the family said.

His sister Clare Flint accepted some Australians would believe deportation was necessary as part of a tough stance on crime, but she emphasised that other foreign criminals had avoided expulsion after being sentenced for more serious, violent crimes.

Early this year it was revealed that hundreds of immigrants who had their visas cancelled after committing crimes in Australia have been spared deportation, including a drug trafficker who had spent more than 10 years in prison.

“Put your feet in our shoes,” his sister says. “Everyone’s made mistakes, but Paul’s paying the ultimate price in losing his family.”

Kennelly defends AFL recruitment of young Irish stars

Sydney Swans coach Tadhg Kennelly says he understands the frustration of some GAA fans who see talented young players abandon Ireland for a crack at Aussie Rules.

But the popular Kerryman defends the pathway as a great opportunity to play professional sport.

Two years ago Kennelly was criticised in the Irish media by his former Kerry team-mate Tomás Ó Sé for his part in taking top prospects away from GAA in his role then as AFL Talent Coordinator.

“I see both sides of the argument,” the now 38-year-old said in a revealing interview with the Irish Echo.

“I understand if I was a young man at home in Kerry and I’m watching Mark O’Connor go and play for Geelong.

“I wouldn’t be happy. It would be tough to watch because that’s what you bleed at home, you bleed Kerry football and you don’t want to see your best talent going.

“But I also see the other side of the argument. He’s a young man getting an opportunity to play professional football, getting to challenge himself in a game he knows nothing about and an opportunity to put it up against people in a game that you don’t know. I understand both sides of the argument. Which one’s right? Who knows?”

Kennelly is in a unique position of having reached the pinnacle of both games: in 2005 with the Sydney Swans and in 2009 with Kerry.

“I’ve been able to live both of them, going back to play football at home and getting to play as a professional here with the Swans,” he said.

“It’s a tough one and I see both sides of the argument. But I also understand there’s been close to 70 Irish players that have come out here. There’s only a handful of us who have played over 150 games of AFL football, the majority go back.

“That’s the first thing I say to players or anyone who talks to me about coming out here. It’s f**king hard and it’s a hard thing to do because you’re playing a game you knew nothing about, you haven’t been able to grow up with it, you don’t understand it and it’s tough. The majority of players go back and they go back better Gaelic footballers because they have lived in an environment of being a professional for a couple of years.”

In 2009, Tadhg Kennelly became the first irishman to win both an AFL Premiership and an All Ireland Championship.

In 2009, Tadhg Kennelly became the first irishman to win both an AFL Premiership and an All Ireland Championship.

Kennelly is also a veteran of International Rules, having played in six series. While he is a fan of the concept, he is not confident that the hybrid code can find a way forward.

“It’s difficult, it’s hard and I understand the demands on both codes as far as the GAA and AFL are concerned,” he said.

“There’s a lot going on, a lot on their plates. It’s hard to get momentum up because it’s a year, two years between games and it’s hard to get the momentum going.

“I’m a huge fan of it, it’s an opporunity for you to represent your country which both codes don’t get and you talk to any player who’s played in it, they absolutely love the experience and love playing for their country. I hope it does continue because it’s an opportunity to represent your country.”

Having spent his entire AFL career at the Sydney Swans, Kennelly returned to Sydney Cricket Ground two years ago and is now defensive coach.

He is also a member of the club’s Hall Of Fame having played 197 games for the ‘bloods’ becoming the first Irishman to win an AFL premiership in 2005.

In the extensive interview, Kennelly also revealed that if Kerry had not won the 2009 Championship, he may have stayed on in Ireland.

Irishman arrested at Sydney airport over road crash

A 22-year-old Irishman is due to face court next month charged over a crash in Sydney’s east at the weekend in which two men were seriously injured.

Officers from the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit (CIU) arrested a 22-year-old man at Sydney Airport about 9pm on Monday, on board a flight to Dublin.

The plane was preparing for take-off before police requested it return to the boarding gate where the man was arrested.

Police allege the man, who is reported to be from Donegal, was the driver of a Mazda 323 which hit a van parked on Burke Street, Chifley, about 2am on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Irishman was taken off a plane to Dublin by NSW Police.

The 22-year-old Irishman was taken off a plane to Dublin by NSW Police.

The driver and a back-seat passenger left the the vehicle while the 25-year-old front passenger and a 27-year-old rear-seat passenger were trapped before being freed by emergency personnel.

The younger man was taken to St George Hospital where he remains in a critical but stable condition. The older man was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition.

The man was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital where he was treated and released into the custody of a CIU officer.

He was taken to Mascot Police Station where he was charged with:

  • Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm – drive manner dangerous

  • Fail to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing grievous bodily harm

  • Cause bodily harm by misconduct, in charge of motor vehicle (two counts)

  • Fail to stop and assist after impact cause injury (two counts)

  • Negligent driving (occasions grievous bodily harm), and,

  • Not give particulars to owner of damaged property.

He was refused police bail before appearing in Central Local Court yesterday where he was granted conditional bail to appear in Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday August 15.

Inquiries continue to locate the fourth man.

Nominations open for Irish Australian Business Awards

Nominations have opened for the Irish Australian Business Awards, now in their fifth year.

Run by the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce, the awards celebrate success and innovation in the Irish business community.

There are six categories for this years prizes:

Startup - Less than three years in operation based on FYE19.

SME of the Year - This category is for small businesses in any sector and at any level of turnover operating for more than three years.

Established Business - This category is for businesses over five years old in any sector.

Young Entrepreneur - Under 40 at FYE19 and can be based anywhere in Australia. Must be a shareholder/director actively involved in the business.

Young Professional - Under 40 at FYE19 and can be based anywhere in Australia. Not a shareholder/director and must have their nomination endorsed by a senior member of their organisation.

International Trader - Does business between Ireland and Australia – import/export/both. The award winner here must demonstrate an international growth strategy that has achieved outstanding levels of sales, profit and market share improvement.

Higgins Award: People’s Choice: Open class, National finalists, voted on via the IACC website, promoted during events and via social and traditional media.

Read More: 2019 Irish Australian Business Awards Gala

For the first time, this year’s prizegiving will see an ‘Innovation Award’ added to the line-up to further inspire creativity in the business sector.

The IACC CEO Barry Corr said: “The innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of Irish Australian business has been a recurring theme over the four previous years of the awards.

“We felt that as we go into our fifth year, it was deserving of special recognition and a category of its own to highlight even more of the achievements happening in our business community every day.”

Andrew Harte took out Young Entrepreneur at the 2018 Irish Australian Business Awards.

Andrew Harte took out Young Entrepreneur at the 2018 Irish Australian Business Awards.

Last year’s winners include Irish-born Andrew Harte, a former labourer whose four companies now have a turnover of more than $20 million, and Stephanie Lyons, who was credited with working to transform the super fund business while volunteering in her local community.

To put forward a business person or corporation, visit the Awards Form.

Nominations close on August 9, with the winners to be announced at the Awards Gala on October 11.

Sexting nurse's behaviour leads to Irish sanction

A nurse who texted a picture of his penis to a patient while working in Australia six years ago, has had his Irish registration suspended for a year.

While on night duty at Concord Hospital in Sydney in 2013, nurse Edward Keegan sent an explicit photograph to his partner.

Mr Keegan then left his personal mobile phone on the desk – and the photo of his penis on the screen – while he answered a call on the hospital ward phone.

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A drug and alcohol detox patient saw the photograph and, according to evidence given to the Administrative Appeals by Mr Keegan last year, began to pressure him into sharing the image.

Mr Keegan said the patient demanded he make contact after discharge in September 2013 because he wanted to see what was in the photograph "for real".

Concord Hospital where Mr Keegan worked as a nurse in 2013.

Concord Hospital where Mr Keegan worked as a nurse in 2013.

The experienced nurse said the patient left several threatening messages on his mobile phone, so he sent a text asking to be left alone, along with the explicit photograph, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

In January 2018, the tribunal disqualified Mr Keegan for two years, and would have cancelled his registration if it was still current, finding he failed to observe professional boundaries, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Keegan resigned from his position after the incident came to light in 2015, and moved back to Ireland.

Earlier this week, the president of Ireland’s High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, confirmed sanctions sought by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) against Mr Keegan of Donacarney, Co Meath, who is on the Irish general nursing register.

The judge made orders suspending Mr Keegan's registration for a year, according to a report in the Irish Examiner.

A Fitness to Practice Committee of the NMBI held an inquiry after the Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales notified the NMBI in 2016 that Mr Keegan's registration had been suspended there following allegations of "inappropriate contact" with a patient on dates in September 2013.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Kelly said he saw no reason not to confirm the proposed sanction.

Irish Swan's career takes flight with new contract

Sydney Swans Irish defender Colin O’Riordan has been given a major vote of confidence by his club after accepting a two-year contract extension.

The new deal will see him remain in red and white until at least the end of 2021.

Colin O’Riordan has signed a new contract with the Sydney Swans. Picture: Sydney Swans

Colin O’Riordan has signed a new contract with the Sydney Swans. Picture: Sydney Swans

Originally from Tipperary, O’Riordan joined the Swans as an international rookie in 2015, following in the footsteps of Kerrymen Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh.

A star Gaelic footballer and hurler as a teenager, O’Riordan captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 football title in 2015 before deciding to try his luck at Aussie Rules.

He made a seamless transition to the Australian game, earning NEAFL Team of the Year honours in his first season on Sydney’s list in 2016.

In Round 17, 2018, O’Riordan’s hard work and thriving NEAFL form were rewarded when he was called up for his AFL debut in a six-point win against North Melbourne.

He also captained the Swans NEAFL side in the grand final loss to Southport last year.

After breaking back into the senior team in Round 8 this year, the 23-year-old has not looked back, playing nine games in a row and providing a wealth of drive from the backline. He also scored his first AFL goal against Conor McKenna’s Essendon.

Colin O’Riordan pictured in 2015 when he captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 Gaelic football title. Picture: Sportsfile

Colin O’Riordan pictured in 2015 when he captained Tipperary to the Munster U21 Gaelic football title. Picture: Sportsfile

Swans Head of Football Charlie Gardiner says O’Riordan’s new contract is a great reward for tireless effort.
“From the moment Colin walked into the club he had a real determination and desire to become a consistent AFL footballer,” Gardiner told the Sydney Swans website.

“Colin’s such a driven and competitive person who works incredibly hard to improve each year. He’s gone to another level again this year and has emerged to become an important member of the team.

“We’re excited he’s joined a number of our emerging youngsters in re-signing, and we look forward to seeing what Colin can produce for the remainder of the season and in years to come.”

Watch O’Riordan’s press conference here.

O’Riordan joins Callum Sinclair, Jordan Dawson, Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney and Harry Reynolds, as well as coach John Longmire, in recommitting to Sydney in 2019.

Emigrants should be primary focus of new diaspora policy

The Irish government is working on a new policy for the diaspora as the country seeks to expand and improve its global footprint and influence by 2025.

The Varadkar government is looking for ideas from the global Irish family to inform this new policy.

However, as a recent visit to Australia by the relevant minister Ciaran Cannon revealed, the government has yet to settle on a definition for the Irish diaspora.

If you’re a fifth generation Aussie of Irish heritage, you have a very different existential relationship with Ireland than the 28-year-old nurse from Mayo who arrived into Sydney airport this morning.

For the purposes of this exercise, it is crucial that the nurse, lets call her Aoife, is foremost in our thoughts and informs what we can observe about the recent experience of emigrants.

Why? Firstly, because she is an Irish citizen living and working abroad, hopefully by choice. In her head and her heart she will always be Irish, no matter where she lives.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

For the fifth generation Aussie, lets call him Kevin (Rudd?), Ireland holds an abstract place in his cultural memory. But it will never be home.

The good news for Aoife is that all the evidence points to the fact that she will do very well here.

She will get a job almost immediately. When she goes to work, she will meet others just like her. Irish nurses, many of whom, sadly, believe that Ireland does not sufficiently value their skills to pay them, or offer them the working conditions, that they deserve.

That issue aside, Aoife will most likely get sponsored and begin a pathway to permanent residency in Australia, still something that is highly desired among young Irish immigrants.

She may join one of the Gaelic football or camogie clubs or try her hand at Aussie Rules which seems to be such a great fit for young Irish women. Either way, there will be no major cultural or ethnic obstacle to her integration into Australian life.

Coming to Australia from Ireland is such a well-trodden path now that people like Aoife slip almost immediately into the mainstream.

Aoife will become part of a migrant community which, the census tells us, is one of the most successful in Australia.

When individual earnings are compared by place of birth, the Irish appear right at the top of the list. We earn more than any other European migrants.

So Aoife has nothing to worry about then? Well, not exactly.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

What if Aoife, like many of those who came before her, becomes inconsolably homesick? What if her elderly grandmother becomes seriously ill? Does she jump on a plane? Its such a long way. What if she herself has an accident? A car crash? An unplanned pregnancy? What if she overstays her visa?

The Irish in Australia confront similar challenges to other Irish emigrants, whether they be in Boston, Birmingham or Berlin. But the tyranny of distance, in my view, compounds the negative implications and makes our situation almost unique. Our remoteness also makes it more difficult for us to agitate for recognition, support and funding from Dublin.

I think there is an excellent case to be made for additional Irish government resources to be deployed here. For example, we have seen the clear benefits of having a consulate in Sydney and an honorary consulate in Perth. Both entities have enriched the experience of Irish emigrants in those cities, not to mention the broader benefit of promoting Irish interests – a key goal of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Global Ireland 2025 strategy.

Melbourne and Brisbane, cities with very significant emigrant populations, not to mention their own cultural and historical links with Ireland as well as economic and commercial opportunities for Ireland, are still waiting for their consulates.

If people think this is asking too much, just look at Canada, a comparable nation, which has five honorary consuls to Australia’s one.

Similarly, Australia, despite being the number one destination for young Irish over the past 15 years, receives only a tiny proportion of the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) budget, less than four per cent. More than 92 per cent of ESP funding in 2017 went to Britain, the US and Ireland itself. In per capita terms, emigrants in Australia receive less than one fifth of what their US equivalents get.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

In terms of recognition, of the 100 Presidential Distinguished Service Medals which have been handed out to members of the diaspora by successive Irish presidents, only three have come to Australia.

Those issues aside, let me say that Irish emigrants to Australia do not, in my view, face unique obstacles beyond those which are confronted by any other immigrant to this country. The constantly shifting goalposts of the Australian immigration department may be infuriatingly complex, bureaucratic and expensive but that is not something which can be influenced from Dublin. Ireland can’t solve all of our problems.

But I think we would all welcome more open-ended government to government conversations about extending reciprocal privileges for Irish people here and Australian people there. Older migrants, for instance, may want to spend their later years in Ireland or expat families may want to bring their elderly relatives to live here. These choices need to be supported.

Similarly, it is now very difficult for the partners of Irish citizens to secure post-nuptial citizenship in Ireland. The rules surrounding this were changed only in the last 20 years and should, in my view, be revisited.

It has to be said that many of the most negative experiences that citizens abroad have confronted in recent years have come when they have returned to Ireland.

The negative response in elements of the Ireland-based media to the forthcoming referendum on voting rights for the Irish abroad in presidential elections mirrors the experience of many returning emigrants when they confront the dreaded Habitual Residency Condition when trying to reconnect to Irish life.

It seems to be particularly difficult for returning citizens who have been outside of the EU to complete simple tasks like enrolling their kids into school, applying for a homeloan, getting a drivers licence or securing car insurance. Similarly, the fact that young Irish citizens seeking to study at Irish universities are deemed to be foreign students is a problem that demands an imaginative response.

Just this week I received an email from a young Irish couple who in 2016, after five years in Australia, decided to make the big move back home.

Three months ago, they moved back to Australia.

The young mum said: “It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.”

It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.
— Returned Irish emigrant who has decided to emigrate again

So, in summary, Ireland does not need one new policy for the diaspora. It needs two.

One, a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad. It is written with someone like Aoife in mind. The experience of emigration (or even living and working abroad) sets people like Aoife apart from the broader diaspora. The goal of the policy should be ensure that Aoife has consular support nearby; that there is a well-funded safety net she can fall into and that should she decide to return home, she can do that seamlessly and with minimum fuss. She should be able to vote in all Irish elections for up to five years and her future husband, wife or life-partner should also be able to get Irish citizenship, just like her children will. Extending the voting franchise will also allow other emigrant issues to be given the political currency they deserve.

The second policy should be all about the children of Irish emigrants and their descendants. The goal should be to ensure that their cultural affinity is enhanced and their Hibernian heritage is celebrated but in a practical way that does not seek to patronise or shake

This can be achieved through increased investment in cultural programmes which support the globalisation of Irish culture. The French, through Alliance Française, and the British, through the British Council, have created successful models for just such activity. Irish music, dance, language and literature should provide more than enough content for real engagement for an Irish equivalent.

Ireland’s universities should be compelled (and funded) to participate. Done right, the policy will reinforce Ireland privileged position as a renowned centre of cultural creativitity and deliver flow-on benefits for business, tourism and the economy. If you build it, they will come.