Monday, September 12, 2005


John O'Shea seems to have really shot himself in the foot with his outburst about the government's plan to send €1m to the US for hurricane relief. As I said last week, I can understand why he might object, but perhaps he could have left off the billionaires business. Made him sound bitter about the sympathy being directed to those who were enduring the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

As a result of O'Shea's comments two American board members have resigned from GOAL. Niall O'Dowd of the Irish Voice was one of the board members who resigned and in this week's paper he notes that O'Shea has "long held a very successful dinner in New York to raise funds". Can't be good for GOAL. From my perspective, it's too bad really. O'Shea has never been a shrill anti-American, unlike one or two others who head Irish overseas aid agencies.

Ryle Dwyer says that O'Shea should know the history of what the US did for Ireland during the famine before he sounds off. I thought the history lesson he provides is interesting, but (a) what happened 150 years ago is not really relevant today and (b) President Polk's reaction actually supports O'Shea's perspective.
A bill to allocate $500,000 for Irish famine relief was introduced in Congress. The Senate passed it, but it ran into difficulty in the House of Representatives due to the hostility of President James K Polk, who felt the government had no right to give the people's money away for charity. "My solemn conviction is that Congress possesses no power to use any public money for any such purpose," the president wrote in his diary.
Dwyer's story supports the view that private charity and not taxpayer's money should be sent to the US.