IFI funding “coup de grace”?

I had thought that this Irish Echo report meant that the US Congress had de-funded the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).  But, as Mark Devenport notes, the Washington Post reported on Monday that the “coup de grace” could be due today.  From the Washington Post report

Also, in an odd sense of timing, an international fund for Ireland would lose $17 million, a proposal backed by the State Department. The Senate could vote to eliminate those funds, and others, on Thursday – St. Patrick’s Day, when the Irish government’s leaders will be feted at the annual congressional luncheon.

That’s “a proposal backed by the State Department”.   Irish Times take note…

I suspect that, officially, time will finally run out for that funding when Congress moves on from temporary stop-gap measures and passes a final budget.  They’ve set themselves a deadline of 8th April.

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  • Pete, the Irish Echo has a more up-to-date report than the Washington Post:

    With regard to the IFI and looking forward, the U.S. State Department is offering what is a tiny kernel of hope.
    In a statement released to the Echo, State Department officials indicate that they will proffer a tiny contribution, but not until next year.

    “We strongly support the peace process in Northern Ireland and efforts to foster economic revival in areas affected by the conflict. In the context of an austere budget environment, the requested FY2012 U.S. contribution of $2.5 million to the International Fund for Ireland is intended to promote the continuing peace and reconciliation process by addressing the roots of intolerance and violence through targeted economic development programs, and seeks to leverage financial contributions from other donors,” the officials said.

  • Pete, you’ve linked back to a December article by Mick which quotes the following by Trina Vargo: “A regular problem in the peace process was that people often didn’t know when to claim victory and move on. Friends of Ireland should let the IFI die a quiet death – otherwise, they will put everyone associated with the IFI in the unenviable position of having to answer to the litany of waste.”

    I’ve just spotted something which makes me wonder if Trina is spinning against the IFI.

    Trina, from Arlington, VA, is President of US-Ireland Alliance and has been a financial backer of Obama and the late Senator Edward Kennedy. USIA operates the George Mitchell Scholars Program with help from funders on both sides of the Atlantic, including the US Department of State.

    I did a Google News search with ‘International Fund for Ireland’ and up pops a current news story from the Boston Globe that mentions Trina and her friend Representative Stephen Lynch:

    “In a letter to House budget leaders, [Lynch] is calling for $5 million a year, for four years starting in 2012, to be directed to an existing scholarship in the name of George Mitchell, the former US Senate majority leader and envoy who negotiated the lasting Northern Ireland peace in the 1990s. Lynch says using the money for scholarships instead of on aid for the International Fund for Ireland amounts to “building a future relationship based on contemporary realities rather than nostalgia.’’”

    Well I’ll be darned. The journalist couldn’t get through to Trina on the phone :L

  • Eamon Gilmore makes a brief reference to IFI in this remark to the US Secretary of State (March 18):

    “Your own constant encouragement and unwavering support in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland is deeply appreciated by all your friends in Ireland, as is your ongoing support for the International Fund for Ireland.”

    Hillary Clintons remarks with their excellencies Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness presumably will be published shortly.

  • BelTel source: Peter Robinson said that the fact that Clinton made the time for the meeting underscored her continuing commitment to Northern Ireland.

    “We talked about a range of issues,” he said. “Obviously, the economy and matters of security more generally. We touched on the International Fund for Ireland Funding and the prospect of a presidential visit.”

    Perhaps Peter should encourage Nelson McCausland to investigate Obama’s McCurry ancestry