Freedom For All Ireland
Freedom For All Ireland Awards 2023
Casey Gray, Ohio
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
JFK Division 1 Albany, New York
Our Lady of the Rosary Divisions 5&10, Ohio
JFK Division 1 Schenectady, New York
Ohio State Board
New York State Board
Ohio State Board
Mary Ryan Division 1, Virginia
Golden Rose Queen of Ireland Division, Texas
Trasna na dTonnta
“Across the Waves”
Women’s Reflections on the Good Friday Agreement
There has always been a strong relationship between Ireland and America. This joint project between Relatives for Justice and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians was undertaken to bring the voices of the women to the forefront. We honor those who worked for peace and are thankful to provide their perspectives to the discussion. This project is dedicated to all who worked towards peace in the north of Ireland during the darkest days and to those that continue to work to heal the wounds of the past.
Every one of the women who contributed to this publication has our lasting gratitude. To share personal reflections is to allow our view of events to expand, enrich and become contributions to the future. Collectively we learn and when we share that learning the potential and possibilities of our future are brighter. Go raibh mile maith agaibh uilig. Thank you all of you.
For those who lead the peace initiatives in their communities, we are forever indebted. May their legacy inspire others striving to bring peace to their communities.
National Freedom for All Ireland Chair,
Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians
The Updates from FFAI Chair
Freedom For All Ireland Christmas Appeal
The monetary awards for the 2022-23 FFAI Christmas Appeal were presented in Ireland by President Madigan and myself on a recent trip to Ireland. We were joined by National Secretary Sandi Swift, Webmaster Brianna Curran and four FFAI Committee members – Kathleen Savage, Louise Sullivan, Nancy Tindall-Sponsel and Rita O’Hara. This year we awarded an incredible $80,000 in grants and donations. I received a record $40,000 in donations from our members and that was matched by our anonymous donor. We also had pin sales money and some additional funds donated from our anonymous donor which the Committee voted to roll into next year. Thank you, Ladies, for your great generosity. The FFAI financial reports for this year are posted to the https://ladiesaoh.com/membersonly/ page.
Groups that we gave to include the Ballymurphy Massacre Families, Belfast National Graves Association, Bloody Sunday Trust (Museum of Free Derry), Bogside Artists, Bridges Beyond Boxing Belfast, Duchas Oiriall, EALU, Greater New Lodge Cultural Society, Green Cross, Jim O’Neill & Robert Allsopp Memorial Flute Band Omagh Thunder Basketball, Passionist Peace and Reconciliation Office (Holy Cross), Relatives for Justice The Spring Project, St. Patrick’s Center Downpatrick, The Martin McGuinness Foundation, The Witness Project, Tyrone National Graves Association, Springhill Westrock Massacre Committee, HerStory, James Connolly Center and Irelands Future. Our committee also included a donation to Roddy McCorley Women’s Garden of Remembrance, The Peace Players, and Friends of Sinn Fein which we will be sending out soon. All the groups we met with were very thankful for the funding, especially this year where the British government has cut funding significantly for nonprofits and charities in the north. For more information and photos of the trip please go to our Facebook page and scroll down to the April entries. https://www.facebook.com/LAOHFFAI32
As a reminder, we collect funds all year round. Funds received going forward will be applied to the 2023-24 Christmas Appeal. All donations should be mailed directly to me from the entity making the donation. My address is 20 Arlene Ave, Albany, NY 12203.
Belfast Agreement 25
I attended the Belfast event held at Queens University on April 17th and 18th along with President Madigan and Webmaster Brianna Curran. This was an incredible experience to be sitting with so many people who were impacted by not only the conflict but the sustained peace.
(Joe Kennedy, Marilyn Madigan, Dan Dennehy, Dolores Desch, MaryLou McDonald, Ciaran Quinn, Brianna Curran and Mark Thompson attending Belfast Agreement 25 )
We heard from Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Jerry Adams, Bill Clinton, Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair, and others regarding the peace talks back in ‘98. The peace and prosperity that followed were all due to US involvement with George Mitchell leading the mediation and displaying patience as each party stormed out during negotiations. While the GFA required concessions by both sides and is in no way perfect it brought peace to a war-torn community and there are hundreds of people alive today because of the GFA.
The panel discussions over the two days were important, and one of the most interesting was made up of 5 main political parties in the north. Representatives from Sinn Fein, Alliance, SDLP, UUP and DUP were there. We heard from all but the DUP on how the road to success was through standing up Stormont and getting back to work for the people in their communities who haven’t had a government in a year. The nationalist parties Sinn Fein and SDLP talked about the future in Ireland, and the goal of a united and inclusive Ireland respecting all cultures. We heard from Doug Beattie of the UUP (unionist party) talk about his concerns for unionist community in the future of Ireland and his concerns were treated with respect by all the other parties. The leader of the largest unionist party, Jeffrey Donaldson was absent. He sent a representative, Emma Little-Pengelly who brought a sentiment of DUP negativity to the stage. It was disappointing to see that there is still no progression in that party, and even the audience some of which were unionist were embarrassed by her lack of engagement, once more proving that the phrase ‘moving the country forward’ is not in the DUP leadership’s vocabulary.
For more information on the event and to watch excerpts: https://www.qub.ac.uk/agreement25/
It’s Different for Mothers
At Queens University Botanical Gardens, we attended the Relatives for Justice launch of “It’s Different for Mothers”, a photographic collection (with each photo approximately 5’x8’) of women who lost children during the conflict. Michelle O’Neill, Andree Murphy, Mark Thompson, Naomi Long and President Madigan spoke at the event. Evanna Devine, a 22 year old emerging photographer and student at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology, captured the portraits. ‘It’s Different for Mothers’ is her debut exhibition. You could feel the embrace of the community for these mothers.
The following blessing was written and read by Rev Karen Sethuraman:
This is our home where we all belong.
Where our different stories make up the rich tapestry of who we are.
We know what it is to suffer pain and loss.
But it is different for mothers…
Your pain and loss none of us can ever/will ever be able to grasp,
As this is your story, because you have walked this path.
Will there be beauty for ashes?
Joy for mourning?
Beauty for grief?
No matter how brief.
Today reminds us that hope and light begin to break through.
It breaks through and spreads throughout our city (and beyond) through each and everyone of you.
So ladies, tell your stories… through your laughter and your tears.
Because blessed are those who are courageous enough to say ‘this has been my pain for all these years’.
We are here to listen.
We are here to remember.
We are here to acknowledge and learn from your deep loss.
We are here to stand with you as you continue to fight for justice.
Blessed are you warrior mothers.
Important Links Update
- Ireland’s Future: https://irelandsfuture.com/
- Graham Warke interview about resigning from the DUP: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-
- Springhill Westrock Massacre Rally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Hibernian Grants 2022 – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Relatives for Justice: https://www.
- Sean Graham Bookies Murder: https://www.facebook.com/
- Mark Kelly Plastic Bullets campaign: https://www.standard.co.uk/
news/uk/mark-northern-ireland- campaigners-psni-sinn-fein- b968758.html
- Liam Ryan Report Webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Bloody Sunday Commemoration – Belfast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Women in the Conflict: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- The RFJ GAA Legacy Project: https://www.rfjgaa.com/