Irish Republican News · February 27, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Concern over anti-Irish sentiment in Scotland, USA
Concern over anti-Irish sentiment in Scotland, USA

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A council in Scotland has unanimously voted against flying the Irish flag over a number of its buildings to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Irish republican group Cairde na hEireann proposed the motion in January 2016, which was given the green light by North Lanarkshire’s public affairs committee earlier this month. But the final say lay with North Lanarkshire Council and the proposal was thrown out at the council’s first full meeting.

Cairde na hEireann, whose offices are based in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow, had put the request forward in a bid to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising that kick-started Ireland’s independence from Britain.

“We want to celebrate our Irishness on the day of the Easter Rising,” Cairde na hEireann national organiser Franny McAdam said. “It’s about getting the councils to recognise that there is a large Irish community here.”

However, the flags of other nations are flown regularly, including the flag of Palestine, which was flown over the City Chambers in Glasgow in 2014 in support of those effected by the Gaza conflict.

But councillors who were opposed to the display of the Irish flag are determined to have the decision reversed, allegedly fearing a backlash from anti-Irish racists.

“We’re trying to break down barriers,” said Mr McAdam, whose grandparents hailed from Donegal and Belfast. “People say it’s an IRA flag but it’s not. It’s about celebrating our Irishness. The Irish in Scotland have paid a large contribution to society here and we want it recognised.”

The proposal was to fly the tricolour over three separate council buildings in the central Scottish region on April 24 - the official anniversary of the Rising.

Days after the original motion was passed, the local Labour party councillors met privately and decided to vote against flying the Irish flag over public buildings. Labour councillors make up the majority of the 79 North Lanarkshire councillors, meaning it was likely to be blocked.

In nearby Glasgow, Keith Russell, manager of Malone’s Irish Pub, labelled debates over flag issues as “pathetic”. He said: “Everybody wants to celebrate it in their own way and should be able to.”

USA

There have also been concerns over a rise in anti-Irish sentiment in the US, where Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz vowed to hunt down and deport illegal Irish immigrants.

Mr Cruz (pictured, right) said in an interview with Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly on Monday that, as president, he would send federal agents to the home of fictional immigrant “Tommy O’Malley from County Cork” who had overstayed his visa and settled in New York, and deport him.

Also this week, a row erupted in New York over the scheduling of official events on St Patrick’s Day. A city schoolteacher filed a civil rights complaint last week against the Education Department for scheduling parent teacher conferences on the national day.

Lawyers for Frank Schorn say the scheduling -- which officials refused to change despite repeated requests from the City Council’s Irish Caucus -- is particularly egregious because Mayor de Blasio recently added three holidays to the school calendar for other ethnic and religious groups.

“We are not asking that the mayor accommodate New York’s oldest immigrant community by declaring a school holiday,” said lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, who is the nephew of former mayor William O’Dwyer and a leader in New York’s Irish community.

“We are instead asking that the Department of Education make a minor change to its schedule so that the religious observance of thousands of teachers and parents who celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick be recognized and honored.”

Schorn, a Queens resident who teaches at IS 318 in Brooklyn, said putting the parent teacher conferences at 4:30 p.m. on the Irish holy day is unfair to him as both an Irish-American and a Catholic.

“The insensitive scheduling of parent teacher meetings on March 17th has put me in an untenable position of choosing between my ethnic and religious heritage and my duty to help my students,” said Schorn.

© 2016 Irish Republican News