Buffalo, NY – Today, March 18, 2006 Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined local leaders from the Irish-American community for a wreath laying ceremony at the Irish Famine Memorial on Buffalo's waterfront.
"It was my intention to stand here today with Ireland’s Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, a man dedicated to building a better tomorrow for the people of Ireland, along this waterfront which represents Western New York's great history and limitless future," said Congressman Higgins. “That his name would appear in this untoward manner and that appearance, in the end, ruined his ability to celebrate St. Patrick's weekend events in Buffalo is sad and unfortunate when one considers Gerry Adams' leadership in the decommissioning of the IRA's weapons and his commitment to the Good Friday agreements. I am grateful that Gerry has restated to me and to the people of Buffalo and Western New York his plans to soon visit Buffalo, and I am hopeful that he will do so in the future with a freer ability to move around this country as an agent for peace in his homeland."
In 1845 Ireland suffered a famine when the potato crop failed resulting in the deaths of more then one million people. During that time nearly two million more Irish were forced to emigrate. Erie County is home to a vibrant Irish community, with 16.5% of its residents of Irish decent.
The Ancient Order of Hiberians Color Guard and members of the Buffalo Irish Famine Commemoration Commission joined Congressman Higgins and Gerry Adams for ceremonies at the monument. Monsignor J. Patrick Keleher gave the benediction.
In 1995, twenty-six Western New York Irish Cultural organizations through the Western New York Irish Famine Commemoration Committee and with cooperation from the City of Buffalo, County of Erie, Buffalo Arts Commission, joined with the City of Cork, Ireland, to erect and dedicate the Buffalo Irish Famine Memorial monument in recognition of the terrible cost of - "An Gorta Mor" - The Great Hunger, and the struggle and achievements of the Irish people in this country.