In response to an inaccurate post on the Tyrone AOH Facebook page concerning the AOH National Convention, a reporter from the Belfast Telegraph reached out to Vice President O’Connell for an interview. Despite efforts to clear up the inaccuracies and relay the facts, the reporter instead in her article persisted in parroting misinformation and conflated irrelevant detains resulting in portraying a specious inaccurate narrative. Below is worthy Vice President O’Connells response to the editor of the Belfast Telegraph. It should be noted, and as was explained ad nauseum to the reporter, the Tyrone AOH is a separate and distinct organization from the AOH in America
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
From the outset of the interview which allegedly formed the basis of Ms. Leonard’s Belfast Telegraph article “Hibernians in US ‘ban’ pro-choice Irish Parties from annual [sic] big bash”, it was clear that Ms. Leonard was attempting to shepherd the responses to her questions to fit a predetermined conclusion she had arrived at before our call. Despite repeatedly correcting Ms. Leonard who kept insisting on the use of the word ‘ban’ and informing her that the AOH has not “banned” anyone we find that she has resorted to repeating this mischaracterization to add titillation to her headline. Ms. Leonard also inaccurately describes the biannual (every two years) convention as an “annual big bash”. Sadly, the inaccuracies of the headline are only a pale prelude to the misrepresentations in the body of the article.
Egregiously, Ms. Leonard presents a bowdlerized representation of an AOH resolution condemning the US Democratic Party Chairman for comments advocating an ideological test act as regards abortion and disingenuously presents it as if it was a condemnation of Irish Political parties. As was explained to Ms. Leonard (but did not make it into her article) the AOH is an Irish Catholic American organization that is unapologetically committed to pro-life. However, the AOH has also always been a champion of self-determination for the Irish people. The people of the Republic of Ireland have spoken democratically, and we must respect their vote. Even the closest of friends can “agree to disagree” while still working together on other areas of common cause. Ironically and sadly, the resolution which Ms. Leonard “cherry-picked” for her own ends was sent to her to illustrate that the AOH stance is not confined to any specific party, whether in the US or Ireland. The resolution in question was sent to her to highlight that while actively condemning abortion the AOH has and will continue to work effectively with US leaders on issues relating to the Good Friday Agreement, Brexit, and Immigration.
In her article, Ms. Leonard also continues to misleadingly conflate the AOH in Tyrone with the American AOH. As was explained at great length to Ms. Leonard, while both organizations can trace their antecedents back to a common organization, the AOH in America and the AOH in Ireland are two distinct organization with separate leaderships and constitutions. Sadly, someone in the Tyrone AOH who was not privy to the American AOH Convention, or the decisions leading up to it, chose to make inaccurate statements on the Tyrone AOH Facebook regarding the American AOH convention. Regretfully, rather than embracing her journalistic responsibility to present the facts and disabuse rumor, Ms. Leonard seems to have chosen instead to perpetuate unfounded gossip to create a salacious, if inaccurate, story.
The Hibernians call on the Editorial Board of the Belfast Telegraph to investigate this matter and upon ascertaining the facts print a correction and apology.
Daniel J. O’Connell
National Vice President
The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Inc