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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.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Pat Finucane Centre

On Monday, August 6th, The Year of Remembrance Committee (TYORC) hosted Alan Brecknell of The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC). Mr. Brecknell is on a US Tour speaking about Collusion in Ireland. TYORC sposored the event at Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle in The Strip District of Pittsburgh.

The PFC is named in memory of Pat Finucane, a human rights lawyer from Belfast who was murdered in front of his family on February 12, 1989 by the pro-British loyalist paramilitary organization, the Ulster Defense Association. The Finucane Family is still seeking a public inquiry into his murder; still after all of these years.

The PFC is based in Derry and advocates human rights and encourages political development and social change in Ireland. The Centre promotes a nonviolent ethos and actively works to build alliances with groups and individuals within the radical and progressive wings of Irish politics. The Centre believes that the attainment of human, political, cultural and economic rights can only be achieved within the context of active self determination involving all the Irish people.

It is a small world; Declan Liddy originally from South Armagh, and Alan Brecknell were school mates; they finally saw each other after many years in Pittsburgh.

There were several people in the community that cames out to hear what Alan had to say.
The evening began with music and song by Sean McClorey. Sean enhances all the programs in which he has performed for The Year of Remembrance Committee.

Here is Eileen McClorey, originally from Belfast and a good friend to many of us.

Here is Chris O'Kaine and Kathleen Hrdlicka with the Daughters of Erin.
Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin introduced Alan Brecknell. Sarah is President of the Irish American Unity Conference, Pittsburgh Branch; a member of the LAOH Maude Gonne Division 32 and has been an Irish Activist for many years.
Alan Brecknell runs the Newry office of the Pat Finucane Centre. Alan's father was killed in a UVF / RUC / UDR attack on Donnelly's Bar in 1975. Alan has researched collusion in mid-Ulster and the border counties for seven years and is probably more knowledgeable in this area than anyone alive today.
Late last year an International Panel, led by Professor Douglass Cassel of Notre Dame, published a comprehensive report on these cases. Alan was the local expert liasing with the panel over two years. He has met with former members of the loyalist gang both in Ireland and in mainland Europe, and has given evidence to parliamentary committees on both sides of the border.

Christopher and Cathy Laughrey came to listen. Christopher is a performer with the hughly popular Laughrey Connolly Band.

The cousins Dan McIntyre and Maureen Strotmeyer; both are regular supporters of Irish sponsored events in the Pittsburgh area.

Howard Elbert, Chairman of the Pittsburgh Celtics Gaelic Football Club and Chris O'Kain came out to hear what Alan had to say.

Mark Barrett is becoming a regular at Irish events. As always, it is good to see Mark.

After Alan's presentation, there was a bit of a break while Sean McClorey sang again. Then we had a Question & Answer period. Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin and Diane Byrnes fielded the questions.

Upon completion of Alan's presentation, there were many people for him to meet; one of them was Anne Mullaney, Proprietor of Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle.

Here we have John McCluskey and Declan Liddy. John is with Conrad na Gaeilge, Craobh Bhaile Phitt, (The Gaelic League of Pittsburgh) and a frequent traveler to Ireland. Declan is a member of AOH Sean MacBride Division 32.

Here we have Patrick Coyne, Eileen McClorey, Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin and Jim Caldwell. Both Sarah and Jim are members of TYORC and were very instrumental with this evenings program.

Patrick Coyne, a member of AOH Sean MacBride Division 32 and the Gaelic League of Pittsburgh.

Ah, at the end of the evening! Bill O'Neill, member of AOH Oakland Irish Division 11 and John Kearney with Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle.

I conducted an Interview with Alan Brecknell that will air on Echoes of Erin, WEDO 810AM on Sunday, August 19th. You can also hear that interview online at http://eoe.pittsounds.com. The program should be uploaded to the site on Monday, August 20.

Until next time...





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