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President Mary McAleese visited with the Irish community in Britain over the past two days. Her visit included a tour of the 20120 Olympic site in East London, which afforded her an opportunity to talk to the Irish construction workers employed there.
Out of the 9,000 workers on the site, 10% are Irish, according to an RTE report. The president said:
‘This very exciting project is proving very beneficial to Ireland on many levels, first of all, as you know, the construction industry in Ireland has come to a bit of a stand still and there are a lot of people looking for opportunities outside Ireland. Many of them have found those opportunities here, builders, surveyors, project managers, architects and anybody involved in the construction business hoping to get work here.
‘Evidence of the Irish contribution here is all around, the names on many of the hoardings are very very familiar, all associated with the Irish construction sector, I am very proud that 10% of the work force here is Irish. They are involved in everything from lifting the blocks to major architectural projects. That’s very good news. That’s at the construction phase, and then there is the fit out phase.
‘That’s a very important element for us in terms of supplying goods and services. I was talking to one contractor this morning who bringing in cladding from north of Dublin. A good example of work being generated and opportunities being generated back in Ireland thanks to the Oympic site.’
During her visit, Ms McAleese also visited the Irish Centre in Reading. In London, she met the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas and the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, as well as the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith.
- RTE.ie: McAleese visits London 2012 site
- Remarks by President McAleese at a Reception at the Embassy of Ireland, London, 1st March 2010
- Remarks by President McAleese to Hammersmith Irish Cultural Centre, 1st March 2010
- Remarks by President McAleese to Reading and District Irish Association, Reading, England, 28th February 2010
The Irish Diaspora conferences that took place in New York in 2007 and Dublin in 2008 will be followed up in 2009 with a London event. The John Hume Institute for Irish Studies has announced the preliminary schedule for “The Irish in Britain: A Conversation with the Diaspora”, which will be held at the Royal Society in London on Monday, 23 November, 2009.
In 2007 we started a conversation with the Irish Diaspora with an event in New York. 1000 people came along and participated in a lively, informative and entertaining debate. Last year we brought the discussion to Dublin and this year we would like to continue that spirit of lively interaction with the Irish in Britain. This special event takes as its premise that lasting transformations within Ireland and of Irish Society, whether political, cultural, social or economic have been shaped and informed by the Irish abroad. This event is about exploring that proposition by looking at three significant issues in our relatively recent past and drawing on the strands arising from that exploration to inform and frame an open floor discussion on the Irish in Britain today and tomorrow.
One curious thing about the programme as it has been initially released is that there seems to be a lack of involvement of the Irish in Britain as speakers, but perhaps that will be rectified by the time the final lineup is announced.
08:30 a.m. Registration
09:00 a.m. Welcome: Hugh Brady, President of UCD
Session One: Towards 2016
This session takes as its theme the notion of the Irish abroad as the significant engine of political change. Contributions will look at the influence of the “Irish” cities of Britain and America on the formation of key figures involved in 1916 and the years that followed, the role of the Irish abroad in the formation and sustaining of a republican movement, the relationships between the new state and the Irish abroad and the consequences of the legacies of historic events and their commemoration for the present and future generations.
Participants will include Mary Daly, Diarmaid Ferriter, Michael Kennedy and Bob Schmuhl
10:30 a.m. Coffee
Session Two: Joyc(e)ity
The theme of this session will be the Diaspora as creative impulse. In particular contributions will explore aspects of the Aesthetic of Exile, Joyce and the contribution of the Irish to “Modernism” and the phenomenon of a diaspora of cultural artefacts.
Participants will include Luca Crispi, Anne Fogarty, Declan Kiberd, and Frank McGuinness
12:30 a.m. Lunch
Session Three: Ties That Bind
The session will explore cultural branding, identity and social cohesion in Britain and Ireland. It will take as a starting point two iconic identifiers of “Irishness”, the GAA and Guinness, both of whom celebrate milestone anniversaries in 2009
Participants will include Cormac O’Grada and Paul Rouse
3:00 p.m. Coffee
Session Four: What does the future hold for Ireland and its Diaspora?
An open floor discussion will be led by a special guest panel.
5.00 p.m. Closing remarks: Hugh Brady
7:30 for 8:00 The Forum will be followed by a dinner and the presentation of The John Hume Medal
- The Irish in Britain on UCD John Hume Institute website
- Irish Diaspora Forum on Global Irish Institute website
- Ean: US-Ireland Forum focuses on relations
A quick, disturbing vignette excerpted from Olivia O’Leary’s “Viewpoint” article on the BBC website.
For James Mooney, 23, and his generation, the crash is particularly galling.
While Mr Mooney was studying to be a surveyor, his lecturer told them they would all be millionaires by the time they were 35, such was the construction and property boom at the time.
Instead he is one of the new breed of Irish emigrants, living in a house in London with five other Irish people in their twenties, in a position none of them ever dreamed they would face.
“Getting dropped back to Dublin airport, that’s when it hits home, that you’re leaving again,” says Mr Mooney.
“Sunday nights, flying back to London. I dread it.
“You see the same faces at the airport now. I never thought I’d have to leave.”
Read Olivia O’Leary’s article on the BBC website – “Ireland: boom to bust”
Yet another oral history project detailing the experience of elderly Irish emigrants has come to your correspondent’s attention. “I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years”, a documentary that was completed in 2005, is now available on DVD from the Irish Studies Centre of London Metropolitan University. The film is a collection of interviews of Irish elders who came over to London between the 1930s and 1960s.
The DVD is a production of the Irish Elders Now project, which is aimed at building a substantial video and oral record of a generation of Irish migrants to Britain whose stories and experiences have been underrepresented in other official records.
For more information and to order the DVD, visit the Irish Studies Centre website.
“Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: The ‘abortion trail’ and the making of a London-Irish Underground, 1980-2000″ by Ann Rossiter tells the story of the London-Irish women who have supported many of the Irish women who have travelled to Britain for abortions.
The book, which was launched in Dublin on Wednesday by Senator Ivana Bacik, is an oral history record of the Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group and the Irish Abortion Solidarity Campaign. Author Anne Rossiter is a Limerick-born campaigner who has lived in London for 25 years.
Related web pages:
Two filmmakers in South Tyneside, England, have made a documentary about the impact of immigration into the town of Jarrow.
Director Gary Wilkinson and playwright Tom Kelly created “Little Ireland” using archive material, photographs and interviews with descendants of Irish immigrants.
The 40-minute film has been an instant success at home, selling out two screenings in South Shields earlier this month.
The pair are now trying to interest Irish film festivals, and have sent out copies to film festivals in Dublin, Belfast, Waterford and Cork.
The film is available from the South Shields Central Library for £10.
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