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Twice elected National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (1984-1988), served as a  President of the Irish American Unity Conference  (IAUC) and President of the Council of Presidents of Irish American Organizations in a time of  heightened conflict in Ireland has died in Bel-Air, MD.  He was  84.  
 
Mike Cummings, Secretary of the American Brexit Committee of which Roche was a member  noted:  “Joe was a natural leader whose decades of service to the nation’s oldest and largest Irish American organization  saw him testifying before dozens of State legislatures and Congress in support of using the MacBride Fair Employment Principles laws to combat anti-Catholic bigotry and discrimination in Northern Ireland.”
 
“Joe’s quiet counsel  was much sought after for many Hibernian initiatives including support of the lawsuit  the AOH joined which challenged  the U. S. ban on  granting a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams”, stated former National AOH President Nick Murphy who launched the lawsuit.
 
Said former AOH National President Brendan Moore:  “Joe was a tireless organizer of new Divisions including the first in Alaska and encouraged the Order to establish the Dr Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award in recognition of the  1974 Irish Nobel Peace Laureate.”  Ned McGinley praised Roche for his pushing  the Order to increase support for  Green Cross/An Cuman Cabhrach Prisoners charity at a time when British  Diplock Courts and internment were flooding British prisons with Catholic/Nationalists.
 
Seamus Boyle, also a former  AOH National President,  who worked with Joe on fundraising memorial projects like the restoration of the Great Hunger ship the Jeannie Johnston, the Commodore Barry Gate at Annapolis  and recognizing  Irish  Medal of Honor recipients at the Freedom Foundation Medal of Honor grove at Valley Forge remembered him for a very current concern for many in Ireland. “Although in declining health,  Joe asked former National Presidents from Pennsylvania Ned McGinley and myself  to join him in an Open Letter addressed to Pennsylvania Hibernians   warning of the economic hardships and threats to peace Brexit  could bring to Ireland.”
 
 
A prayer service or Joe will be held Monday at the Schimunek Funeral Home in Bel-Air, MD  with interment  later at the convenience of the family.

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