Bigotry on the Field
I FELT inclined to write after reading about David Healy’s shameful actions in Cathal Dervan’s “Idiot of the Week” in last week’s Irish Voice, among other periodicals. The last year or so has seen Nigel Worthington and the Irish Football Association (IFA) adopt an aggressive pursuit of players like Darron Gibson, Tony Kane, Michael O’Connor, Marc Wilson and others to drop the Republic for Northern Ireland.
With Kane and O’Connor they were even successful, although their chances of playing regularly may have been the deciding factor. The IFA and Northern Ireland fans have long said that their sectarian days are long gone, and the Northern Ireland national team can be supported by all citizens of the six counties, Catholic or Protestant.
However, what can young players from Nationalist areas feel like when they see Healy, arguably Northern Ireland’s best player since George Best, insulting the Catholic community in such a public fashion? This is a man who was recently given the MBE (order of the British Empire), a representative for the U.K. all over the world. He is clearly off to a great start in his position of chivalry.
Worthington and others say that Northern Ireland’s team is one supported by all with no bigotry, but the fact remains that players like Patrick McCourt, now of Celtic, are continually overlooked because of Nationalist backgrounds. McCourt plied his trade with Derry City from 2005-2008, earning no caps to add to his solitary appearance in 2002 for the senior squad.
During this time, Worthington and his predecessor Lawrie Sanchez picked the following ahead of McCourt — Alan Mannus (Linfield), Peter Thompson (Linfield, now Stockport County), Sean Webb (Accrington Stanley), Gary Hamilton (Glentoran) and Danny Griffin (Ross County, who at the time played in the Scottish Second Division, or third tier).
The bigotry and alienation that many players like Gibson and Wilson face, combined with the very Unionist atmosphere of Windsor Park, where Ulster Volunteer Force songs are regularly sung on Northern Ireland match nights, is why representing the Republic of Ireland at international level should still be a viable option for the aforementioned players and for those to come, as it has been.
Old Bridge, New Jersey
Dark Cormac Clouds
IN response to Cormac MacConnell’s column “Rain Wind . . . Welcome to Summer” column in last week’s issue, I think Cormac must be smoking his sunflowers!
Did he not watch the Irish news last summer showing the complete devastation and floods in the “sunny” English countryside? Whole villages were nearly swept away, and there were national disaster areas everywhere!
MacConnell makes the U.K. sound like the Costa del Sol. My parents have a caravan in England and only managed to make two trips this summer thanks to the inclement weather.
England has committed atrocious acts over the centuries, there’s no disputing that. But please, Cormac, give the Brits a break! English weather leaves little to be desired, and I would know, as I’m a former Mancunian enjoying the American skies!
Mid Hudson, New York
Priest Treated Very Fairly
IN the past few days Father Cathal Gallagher received word of his new permanent residence status in the U.S.
I have been following with much interest the Irish Voice’s coverage of Gallagher’s illegal immigration status and his struggles with the Department of Homeland Security in South Dakota. I have several misgivings about the coverage and portrayal of Gallagher and his parishioners in the Arlington, South Dakota area.
Bishop Paul J. Swain was appointed bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota in October, 2006. Father Gallagher received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security in January, 2007 informing him that his request for permanent residency was denied. A “technical error,” they said, prevented him from obtaining a green card.
However, his lawyer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc (CLINIC) informed him that the denial notice was a “slip up” and could be rectified easily.
The Irish Voice reported “that another year of hope passed by, and when Gallagher checked up on his case again he found out this past April nothing had changed.”
If I had my legal status still up in the air I would have continued to inquire about my current status. It looks to me that Gallagher tried to let his status slip under the radar.
Maybe the influx of so many immigrants from Central America into communities near the Arlington parish Gallagher was at gave him the impression that he did not need to take things seriously.
In early 2008 Gallagher and Swain met with the diocese’s lawyer. Please note that Swain was, at one time, a practicing lawyer in Wisconsin. Swain had a legal understanding of Gallagher’s legal status.
When Gallagher left Arlington on July 1, 2008 he had been there for 10 years. Perhaps Gallagher was concerned about his continued role as the pastor of the Arlington area parishes.
It is the standard procedure of the Sioux Falls diocese to have their priests serve no more than six years at the same assignment. May it was just time to have him move to another parish.
You can tell from Irish Voice accounts that your narrative has been heavily influenced by the passionate accounts from the website that was created to support Gallagher in recent months. I believe that the parishioners and website people have a serious axe to grind with their church. Gallagher’s situation fit into their perceptions. Are websites always the gospel truth?
In early July, Gallagher received word that his case has been reopened. It looked like the efforts of South Dakota congressional delegations, the letters written in Gallagher’s behalf, and perhaps even the efforts of Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls made it possible for Gallagher to remain in the region.
In response to word that Gallagher had received permanent status, Jerry Klein, chancellor of the Sioux Falls Diocese stated, “We were delighted to learn this afternoon from Father Cathal Gallagher that he has been granted permanent residency status in the U.S. That is what the diocese in a variety of ways has assisted him to receive for many years. We are appreciative of the efforts by the state congressional delegation and so many others promoting his cause outside the normal legal channels.”
It looks to me that Gallagher has been quite lucky to have spent the last decade at the same small parish in eastern South Dakota, and quite lucky to still be in the U.S.
I certainly wish that during the last winter that the Irish American media would have been aware and more concerned about the young Guatemalan families who were stuck out in the middle of rural Minnesota and South Dakota, their father being deported to South America, during a rather cold Christmas season. There were mothers, in their early twenties, with four children, left without any means to obtain food and to pay for the heat.
I wonder if immigration raids, like those in the past year in Postville, Iowa and the Worthington, Minnesota area continue, whether Arlington parishioners, the local media, along with the Irish Voice, will give their victims as much attention and concern as they have for Cathal Gallagher?
Sioux Falls, South Dakota