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One hundred thousand welcomes to you to my official blog of all things Irish from me, Diane Byrnes, host of the Echoes of Erin radio show on WEDO Radio 810AM.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pittsburgh Irish Happenings

The Fall Season brings with it a buzz of activities that are important for YOU to support as best as you can. Plus I will have some very interesting guests on Echoes of Erin and telephone interviews over the next couple of months.

On Saturday, September 30th The US Senate unanimously ratified the US / UK Extradition Treaty; once again our US Government jeopardizes our rights and diminishes the guarantees we have had with our US Constitution. Watch Out – they might extradite any one of us for speaking out on British injustice. Remember our Senators on November 7th; don’t vote any of them back into office.I expect to conduct two interviews on the impact this treaty will have on American citizens. Jim Caldwell, Political Education Chairman with the Irish American Unity Conference, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Knights of Equity will be in the studio with me by the end of October discussing the treaty.

On Sunday, October 8th, Lt. Commander and Pipe Major, Michael Scott, with the Greater Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes & Drums will be with me in the studio. Lt. Scott will enlighten us on the Emerald Society and play a few tunes on his pipes.

On Sunday, October 15th, I’ll conduct my third telephone interview with Cíaran Ferry, now back in Belfast.

Some background: Ciaran Ferry was imprisoned by British authorities in March 1993 after two weapons were found in a car in which he was a passenger. He was held for two years and tried under a Diplock court system and sentenced to 22 years in Long Kesh. He spent seven and a half years in the H-Blocks before being released in the summer of 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement.

Ciaran and
Heaven Ferry were married in Belfast in August 2000. A few months later his personal details were found on a loyalist ‘hit list’. Upon visiting Heaven’s family in Colorado during the Christmas holidays, the couple decided to stay in America.On January 3, 2003 while attending a formal interview with the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement on his pending permanent residency application, he was arrested without warrant and spent two years in jail, some of that time in solitary confinement. Christmas 2004 he was deported. His wife Heaven and daughter Fiona are in the US while Ciaran is living in Belfast.We’ll hear an update from Ciaran on his legal status and life without his family.

Brendan Hughes, Commanding Officer (OC) in the H-Blocks in 1980 led a hunger strike for political status with six prisoners on October 27, 1980. Those prisoners included: Tom McFeeley, Sean McKenna, Leo Green, Tommy McKearney, Raymond McCartney and John Nixon. By early December of that year they were joined by three women in Armagh Jail – Mairead Farrell, Mairead Nugent and Mary Doyle.

In mid-December as Sean McKenna neared death, the British announced they were prepared to concede to the prisoners demands once the hunger strike was ended. On December 18, 1980 this hunger strike ended; however the British reneged on their word and concessions were not granted to the prisoners.

As a result of the inhumane treatment netted out to the prisoners and Brendan Hughes, he is losing his eyesight and is in desperate need of an operation. The National Health Insurance of Ireland will not take care of him until March 2007, which by that time, his sight will be gone.A group of people are embarking on a humanitarian effort and are in the process of setting up a Brendan Hughes Fund through which charitable contributions can be made. A minimum of $5,000 needs to be raised to effectively help Brendan.

In the meantime, a Fund Raiser will take place on Saturday, October 14, 2006 at Iron City Brewery, on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, from 6:00pm to 10:00 pm. Music will be provided by Sean McClorey, and other Friends in Irish Music. A donation of $10.00 will be accepted at the door, and there will be a Chinese Auction.

This is not a political or organizational event, but a humanitarian effort to help someone in need. Information can be obtained at 412.303.1705 or 412.243.2385.

Another Fund Raiser is taking place on Sunday, October 22nd, Samhain, The Celtic New Year Celebration. This event takes place at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, 24th Street and Penn Avenue in The Strip; doors open at 4:00pm. We convert the Pub into the ‘Great Hall’ of Mullaney’s Castle. You will walk through the forest and cemetery across the drawbridge and pay your tithe of $15.00 to the Gate Master.Local entertainment includes Cue Ball, Terry Griffith, Laughrey Connelly and Band, and Chuck Owston & Bonfire Night, a bit of Medieval and Gothic music. There will be Cultural Baskets, a Costume Contest along with the crowning of our 2006 King and Queen. Samhain benefits Echoes of Erin on WEDO 810AM continuing Irish radio programming. Information with Diane Byrnes – 412.781.6368.

That’s all for now!



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