A CORK man who co-founded an Irish-American immigration lobby group has been congratulated for his work by a major US politician.
In 1987, Skibbereen native Sean Minihane helped establish the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) in New York, which improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Irish people living in the US.
Mr Minihane will receive a UCC Alumni Achievement Award later tonight and was congratulated by US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer on his achievements.
“When it comes to making positive change in American immigration policy and keeping open the path to citizenship for Irish immigrants, there is no person more deserving of recognition for leadership, persistence, and impact than Sean Minihane,” said Mr Schumer.
“From its founding in the rooms of the Cork Association in Queens to the countless rallies, lobby visits, fundraisers, marches, and more, the Irish Immigration Reform Movement that Sean helped found was at the very vanguard of mobilising public support for desperately needed changes to immigration law.
“The IIRM made partnerships with key elected officials, including me, and through their savvy and passion and persistence, achieved profound success with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990, which created the Morrison visas.
“I could not be more proud that these visas eventually bore my name. We remain deeply grateful to Sean Minihane for his selfless work and extraordinary legacy.”
The Immigration Act of 1990, with its Morrison and Schumer visa provisions, is the primary legislative legacy of the IIRM, providing a three-year transitional visa programme which saw 48,000 visas granted to Ireland.
Also receiving awards tonight are Cork Circuit Court Judge Helen Boyle, doctor and inclusion health leader Professor Des Crowley, award-winning poet and author Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and biofuel pioneer Professor Martin Tangney.
Commending the honourees, UCC president Professor John O’Halloran said: “It is an honour to recognise these five UCC alumni who have made real impact in careers — changing lives and our society for the better.
“We are very proud that our alumni have been generous and impactful in securing a better life for our citizens and our planet.”