US citizens here celebrate with hope for future
If the celebrations surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama in the US were somewhat more subdued this time around, then it was appropriate that an event held in Dublin last night was equally so.
Around 60 members of Democrats Abroad Ireland came together in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin to celebrate the president’s second term. Sitting at round tables decorated with miniature US and Irish flags and lilies, the attendees, wearing suits and evening dresses, watched the US president’s inauguration speech.
Among them were Trinity College Dublin students Clementine Yost from California and Alex Canepa from Austin, Texas, who said they were delighted at the president’s re-election, adding that, in the past four years he had done much to improve the image of the US abroad. “I’ve lived here for four years now and I’ve noticed that the perception of Americans abroad has noticeably improved,” Mr Canepa said.
Michele Galliford from Florida, who is living in Bray, said it was a “wonderful occasion”: “I got a little bit worried right before the election – it was very close. I actually flew home and I did some canvassing door to door for the last two weeks of the election so election day I was home so it was very exciting,” she said, adding that she was hopeful for the next four years.
This sense of hope was shared by Gerry Butler, who wore a large Democrats Abroad Ireland rosette for the occasion. Describing himself as a “Blackrock Yank” he said he was happy to see Obama re-elected and hoped Hillary Clinton would be the next Democratic nominee and a future president.
Chairman of Democrats Abroad Ireland Dennis Desmond said the re-election of Barack Obama was “a validation of everything that Barack Obama and the Democrats want to do in spite of the Republicans’ intransigence”.
“We now have an opportunity to move forward with a progressive agenda that looks after people,” he said.
Democrats Abroad Ireland also took the opportunity of the inauguration to celebrate the contributions of its former chair Kate Fitzgerald who died in 2011 at the age of 25.
“We grew phenomenally during her period as chair . . . Kate was a briliant young woman,” he said before presenting a Meritorious Service Award to Ms Fitzgerald’s parents.
In a subsequent speech Tom Fitzgerald reiterated his belief that his daughter had not taken her own life.
“We are not looking to pervert the course of justice, we just want justice to happen for Kate Fitzgerald,” he said.
Her mother Sally said she had the “honour to be the mother of Kate Fitzgerald”, adding that she was wearing a star-shaped necklace which she had bought for her daughter, which she said was a symbol of “everything Kate was: tough, dynamic and brilliant”.