PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN has spoken warmly about the Irish Voice newspaper after it published its final print edition in July. The newspaper, based in New York, served the Irish-American community.
At the end of July President Biden sent a letter to Niall O’Dowd, founder of both the Irish Voice and IrishCentral website, saying: “Congratulations on 36 successful years of print journalism at the Irish Voice.
“As I said when I was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame – an honor I treasure to this day – the Irish have built a community since they first came to America.
“Thanks to your leadership and hard work, the Irish Voice has become that community for so many. I believe that we Irish are the only people nostalgic for the future. I hope you are filled with pride as you reflect on everything you have accomplished over the last few decades and say ‘Slán Go Fóill’ to the Irish Voice.
“I look forward to watching you continue to build connections among Irish Americans in the years to come.”
The letter was signed: “Sincerely, Joe Biden.”
Niall O’Dowd wrote in his final Irish Voice column: “We set out to be simply a local paper that happened to be located in New York and, for many years, Boston. We aimed to cover a vibrant community, one centered around all of the new Irish arrivals to the US in the 1980s and ‘90s – the vast majority undocumented – and we prospered, becoming the first Irish American newspaper to succeed since 1928.
“On the front page of our first issue was a poll of undocumented Irish immigrants voting on whether they would ever return home. The majority said they would not, and the Irish Voice became their voice.”
Bu as O’Dowd pointed out: “Ireland is a vastly more prosperous country these past two decades, and the need to seek a new life in the US isn’t nearly as urgent.”
In the past newspaper was crucially involved with the Morrison and Donnelly visa campaigns both of which were designed to help Irish immigrants to America . O’Dowd recalled: “Who can forget the massive crowds that ended up at an obscure post office in Merrifield, Virginia in 1991 where millions of Morrison visa applications were processed – many of which were personally delivered in a U-Haul van driven by Voice staffers.”
O’Dowd also underlined the Irish Voice’s crucial role in the peace process in Northern Ireland. The newspaper was the first to report in January of 1994 that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams would get an American visa. This was a key moment in the ongoing process to bring about a permanent end to the Troubles.
He added: “The previous year, we were the first outlet to publish a weekly column from Adams.
“We were invited to accompany President Clinton on his visit to Ireland in 1995, a never to be forgotten trip.”
Another major story that the Irish Voice broke was the decision to finally allow an LGBT group to march in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade, which O’Dowd hailed as a “huge step forward.”
While the Irish Voice has ceased printing, O’Dowd’s twice-weekly column will move online to IrishCentral.
The Irish Voice newspaper’s sister publication Irish America Magazine continues to print and exist online, and the event management side, which includes the Wall Street 50, Hall of Fame, Business 100, and Healthcare 50, will continue.