|The following is an extensive update on several things that have been happening with The Children of Ireland Group since the last newsletter in February- including Terry's recent visit to Northern Ireland -|
IRS NON-PROFIT STATUS ACHIEVED!!
First, we're very happy to announce that in July the U.S. Internal Revenue Service granted The Children of Ireland Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit status effective back to March, 2000! This is very exciting news and immediately gives potential donors the ability to donate funds, gifts, legacies, etc. in a "tax-exempt" manner which will jointly benefit them tax-wise and The Children of Ireland Group in fundraising!! I will soon be consulting with our Board of Directors on ideas to move forward in our fund raising efforts. Should you have any ideas and/or wish to assist in fundraising efforts, please contact me anytime! Many thanks to our Director, Mike Gibbons, and member Terry Madigan of the McFarlain law firm in Tallahassee, for reviewing our massive application document and making very welcomed suggestions!!
GENEROUS DONATIONS RECEIVED!
Secondly, many, many thanks to our newest member the Norman O'Brien Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Berkley, Michigan for their very generous donation of $1,500 which assisted in the purchase of two new kayaks for the Portadown Canoe Club and funding a summer program for the Career 'N' Kids child care center in Belfast, both of which are cross-community groups working with extremely at-risk kids and adolescents! Thanks AOH in Berkley!!
We have also received $1,000 from board member, Michael Gibbons, for use in a community centre of our choosing! With all the recent applications from centres for assistance it will certainly be a tough decision but one that will definitely assist in many ways!! Thank you, Mike, for your generosity and tireless efforts!!
WEB PAGE CHANGES
Our web page (www.ryans.org/childrenofireland/Index.htm) continues to be updated on current events, items of interest, attacks against children and punishment beatings inflicted on children, etc. Many thanks to our web master, David Sullivan, for his wonderful help! (Note: new web address is http://www.childrenofireland.us)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTED!
In April, new Board of Directors were elected and include:
Suzanne DeBoldt, Marie Tierney Smith, John Fitzgerald, David and Trish Sullivan, and Michael Gibbons.
Each of them brings wonderful Irish- American organization experience and an enthusiasm which promises
to continue moving The Children of Ireland Group ahead!
POOL TOURNAMENT A SUCCESS!
A pool tournament in Tallahassee at Halligan's Pool 'N Pub was a grand success and raised over $1,000!
Considerable interest was received for another future tournament which is anticipated for sometime in late 2001.
ASTON COMMUNITY CENTRE ATTACK RESPONSE
In early August, the Aston Community Centre in Belfast came under attack by two gunmen. The resulting shooting fortunately left no one injured; however, greatly traumatized young children and adult workers present.
The Children of Ireland Group immediately responded with a fundraiser including one held by our wonderful supporters in Minnesota lead by Mike Gibbons and Rebecca McConkey!
Approximately $1,000 was raised by them, much of which was personally delivered by Rebecca to the Ashton Centre in mid-August on behalf of another Irish-American organization Rebecca is associated with.
Our own donations of an approximately $500 will soon go out toward the purchase of recreation and education equipment benefiting their after-school program.
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL, IRISH, AND STATE DEPARTMENT CONTACTS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED
In March, Terry Ryan participated with the Irish American Unity Conference and several other Irish-American and international Irish organizations to visit Washington, D.C. and the offices of many congress people, the Irish Embassy, the State Department, and White House.
The IAUC's purpose was to discuss human rights issues of Northern Ireland and problems being encountered with the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the Patton Report on Policing Reforms.
Terry's purpose was, naturally, to additionally draw attention to the plight of the children in the midst of these problems and he was warmly received at all visits.
Since then, follow-up with the State Department Human Rights Bureau has been maintained by our member, Bill Denney, who periodically provides updates on attacks against children and punishment beatings of
adolescents. This information will, hopefully, be included in the Department's annual Human Rights Report.
COMMUNITY CENTRES WE'VE HELPED SO FAR THIS YEAR
The following community centres have been assisted so far this year with purchase of recreation and/or education equipment:
-Glen Youth Development Center to purchase a computer and printer;
-Maiden City Soccer Program to purchase soccer t-shirts for 500 youth;
-Portadown Canoe Club to purchase a kayak and equipment;
-Child 'N Crisis Daycare to purchase education equipment for its pre-school program.
-Aston Community Centre to purchase computer related equipment.
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED AND ASSISTED!!
TERRY'S TRIP TO NORTHERN IRELAND
My trip to Northern Ireland was very successful, created even more contacts, built more awareness of The Children
of Ireland Group, and much appreciation of our efforts was received!
First, on previously contacting the N.I. Department of Health, Social Services, and Public Safety, Minister Ms.
Barbre de Bruin personally indicated "considerable interest" in our continued concerns regarding the issue of an
inadequate supply of adolescent psychiatric beds, and asked that I meet with Department officials directly working
on this issue due to her heavy commitment (as we all know the government is going through serious times right now and this was much understood). My meeting with them found that the previous approved additional 10 beds was
possibly being put on hold "due to a severe lack of personnel".
This was re-confirmed when I attended a luncheon on my behalf by the Department's Committee, with
representatives from SDLP, DUP, UUP, and the Women's Coalition attending. The Committee expressed its own concerns and apparent frustrations since the 10 beds were actually out of 25 recommended by the N.I. Chief Medical
Officer! Time will tell on this issue. Discussions with individuals in the health community after the meeting brought
much disappointment and suggestions that the Department consider using health personnel from other countries!
I also presented to the Department and the Committee a soon-to-be-released report "An Analysis of Paramilitary
Style Punishment Beatings and Shootings in N. Ireland over a Three Year Period" to the Department and the Committee developed by the Family Trauma Centre in Belfast. (As will be recalled, this Centre was created for the
specific purpose of treating hundreds of families [possibly thousands] affected by these beatings and has done
wonderful work with thousands of individuals throughout N.I.!)
Although the report presents several disturbing trends in punishment beatings over the last three years, the most concerning to us is the punishment shootings of
adolescents less than 20 years of age increasing OVER 330%!! This lead to considerable discussion at the luncheon especially the topic of long-range financial implications to the Department of Health.
Specifically, this drew much interest due to medical needs both short and long-term, long-term costs of disability
payments for victims who have lost partial or complete loss of limbs, lost employment opportunities due to the
inability to perform certain types of jobs, trauma treatment of the victim and related family members, and lost tax
revenue in many areas, just to mention a few of the related costs. It was agreed that I would follow-up the luncheon
with a letter to the Committee formally asking that a cost analysis be considered along this line.
Additionally, I would recommend that a multi-agency task force be considered to discuss punishment beatings and other
alternatives that could be promoted within communities and the paramilitaries carrying them out. This suggestion
was made in a prior meeting I had with Sinn Fein which also expressed grave concerns.
Additional meetings were held with Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) programmes in West Belfast and on the
Shankill Road. Each maintains strong connections with local paramilitary groups and community citizen organizations in local estates and work strenuously to mediate problems, resolve social issues, and avert
punishment beatings, especially of adolescents. Realistically, due to the strong mistrust of the RUC which has turned adolescents into informers, republicans/nationalists have the added problem of what to do with adolescents and/or their own parents who don't want to cooperate with the mediation process. On the other hand, the CRJ on
the Shankill is currently signing an agreement with the RUC for help in their area and having an RUC representative on their board of directors. Both were very interested in the Dept of Health meetings I previously had, in helping
resolve the punishment beating issues.
These meetings were followed up with visits to several of the over 25 community centres that The Children of Ireland
Group has worked with over the past year. The visits were truly heart-warming and something I hope other Members might be able to share in, in years to come! Seeing our contributions actually "in-place", the kids playing
on recreation equipment YOU helped provide the funds for, kids from BOTH sides of the community playing and
learning together, was extremely rewarding and spirit uplifting!! It also brought out how much MORE needs to be
done and we've only tapped the surface! If any of you are planning on visiting N.I., please feel free to contact me on
places you're visiting and I'll be happy to provide names and addresses of centres we're helping - the kids would love to see ya! Many thanks to each N.I. politician who has supported our efforts and recommended that community
centres in their districts contact us for consideration!
As always, thanks for all your support, ideas, and help! God Bless!!
J. Terry Ryan, President