Spring is the season of newness of growth, and of opportunity. Just as the lawns, trees and shrubs around us seem to take on new life, so, too, with each of us and with the AOH itself.
In terms of growth, you should be aware that there are Hibernians in the State of Iowa, and they are increasing! Although it was February and we felt as though we were flying over the Polar Ice Cap, Danny O’Connell, our National Treasurer, and Patrick Sturdy, our National Legal Counsel, accompanied me to Dubuque to initiate new members, install a new division, and install a new county board. While the temperature never rose above five degrees, the Iowa welcome we received was the warmest possible, and we anticipate that there will be an Iowa State Board within the next few months. South Carolina State
President Jim Nettles informs me that his state is now up to 10 divisions, and Virginia State President Chuck Curran indicates that there has been a 20 percent increase among Virginia divisions in the past three years. As I write, there is word from Texas that a new division is being organized in Houston, and there is solid interest in forming a division in Dallas.
So how’s that for growth!
I am astounded to realize that April 10th was the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. While we have come a long way from the imprisonment, statesponsored terrorism, and structural discrimination of the pre-Agreement period, we must all recognize that we yet have a long road ahead in terms of what has been promised and codified in the Agreement and what has been achieved to date. It is our hope that in partnering
with the Irish government and supporters of the Agreement in the Six Counties, we will develop a sense of momentum toward full implementation.
Clearly an effort that has achieved its goals has been AOH-LAOH Storm Relief. As mentioned previously, mid-December was the very touching and much appreciated initial distribution of donations. The second distribution occurred in mid-February, and now that no additional applications for assistance are being accepted, there will be another distribution in mid-April. Under the very capable leadership of Past National President Seamus Boyle, National Board members Jere Cole, Chip McLean, Dan Dennehy and Neil Cosgrove have been the backbone of this huge and laudable project. Unfortunately, there is no actual record of those who tirelessly collected and trucked in supplies to the impacted areas.
Nor is it possible to name the many Brothers from the New York metropolitan area and beyond who provided the muscle power to clear and rebuild so many homes and facilities that had been damaged. Those who donated, those who coordinated, those who transported and those who labored have been a source of hope to many, and they have certainly made us proud to be members of this Order.
State boards will begin holding state conventions in early May and lasting through to the Fall. These meetings offer an opportunity to examine, build and nourish the Order. Because our state conventions enable delegates to consider what has gone well during the two previous years and assess what challenges lie ahead, it is most important that very careful pre-convention planning takes place so as to guarantee the best possible outcomes for each of our states. In many cases new leaders will be elected whose task it will be to demonstrate that they have listened to and understood the needs, concerns and priorities
expressed, discussed and decided by the convention delegates who elected them. And, finally, to those state officers who will be stepping down, as well as those continuing in office, I want to thank you for your tremendous service to your Brothers.