IBRG as a functioning organisation did not exist after 2005. Pat Reynolds did continue to be active in campaigns such as Christy McGrath and put out statements from time to time in the name of IBRG. He continued both personally and politically to assert the rights of the Irish community in Britain to justice and equality and for the community to have a right to a say in the future of the island of Ireland.
IBRG members including Pat Reynolds, Maude Casey, Jodie Clark, Harriet Grimsditch, Kevin Heyes, Bernadette Hyland, Ann Rossiter and Laura Sullivan, in England and Diarmuid Breatnach, Michael Kneafsey, Joe and Margaret Mullarkey, Maurice Moore and Judy Peddle in Ireland took their political activity into other organisations. This included political parties, trade unions, history groups, community groups, anti-fascist work and refugee support amongst others. IBRG activists have never stopped!
Spirit of IBRG. Photo T.Shelly.
What follows here is a log of some of the activities that IBRG members particpated in.
On 7th January the anti-Irish racist newspaper The Sun had a story ‘IRA song blast for 2 Celtic players”. According to the Sun propaganda sheet, two Celtic players had been slammed after being caught up in an IRA singsong.
The song they were singing according to the Sun was the Fields of Athenry, which the Sun clained is an IRA song. In reality the song has nothing to do with IRA but is about the Great Starvation of the Irish people, and which is sung at Irish international matches.
According to The Sun, campaigners and MSPs were calling on Celtic to launch a probe. An ignorant Lib Dem MSP stated ‘the club should make it very clear to the players this behaviour is not acceptable, and should take internal disciplinary action.
A Celtic spokesperson stated ‘these suggestions are laughable and without foundation.’ IBRG members condemned this repeated racism by the Sun and the Lib Dems and their ignorance of Irish culture.
Christy McGrath Campaign
On 17th January IBRG members attended a Christy McGrath planning meeting at Camden Irish centre. And on 28th January attended a successful Race Meeting at Finnegan’s Wake public house in London for the campaign.
On 11th March IBRG members attended an Irish Bookfair at the Hammersmith Irish centre and on 12th March staffed a Christy McGrath stall in Leicester Square for Christy McGrath, getting signatures, getting donations and giving out leaflets.
On 17th March Pat Reynolds spoke at a benefit/meeting at the Red Rose Club in Islington with John McDonnell MP on the Christy McGrath campaign.
In March Pat Reynolds was lobbying MPs by letter for Christy McGrath where 22 MPs had signed the Early Day Motion for Christy. In the end Pat wrote to all 650 MPs in Britain on Christy’s case and to every TD and Senator in Dail Eireann.
Death of campaigner for justice for Gypsy and Traveller communities
In March IBRG members expressed their sorrow at the death of Patrick Delaney aged 49, who died early. He had been a fearless campaigner for justice for the Gypsy and Traveller communities in Britain after the brutal racist murder of his 15-year-old son in Liverpool.
The racial killing of this Irish teenage Irish Traveller had similar features to the death of Stephen Lawrence in South London. He was murdered by two 16 years boys who stated after the murder ‘he deserved it, he’s only a fucking Gippo’ after they had kicked and stamped him to death. Despite the killers clearly shouting racist abuse, the Judge in the case at Chester decided that the attack was not racist. What would this ex public schoolboy know about racism to Irish Travellers?
Again, the IBRG saw British justice at work where the two killers were only given four years for manslaughter rather than murder and would be out in two years. The value of an Irish Travellers life in Britain was very low. There were over 50,000 Gypsy and Traveller children in Britain, who every day face racist abuse and discrimination in services and provision, and vile racism in the British media mainly in the Tabloids. Young Johnny Delaney was murdered because he was an Irish Traveller child with an Irish accent.
The Cheshire Police had recorded the murder as a racially motivated incident, under the definition given by the Lawrence inquiry because of the comments made at the time of the murder. The Liverpool Irish Community Care centre had supported the family. The deceased father was co-chair of the Pride not Prejudice, an annual conference involving Travellers the Criminal Justice agencies.
On 4th April an alleged British spy who worked for Sinn Fein was shot dead in Donegal.
On 13th April IBRG members attended a Christy McGrath meeting at the Camden Irish Centre.
On 6th May IBRG members attended the James Connolly/ Bobby Sands rally at the Camden Irish centre on the 90th anniversary of 1916 an the 25th anniversary of the Hunger strikes.
Irish make vote count in London local elections
On 8th May the IBRG put out a statement, Irish make vote count in local elections in London on 4th May. In Southwark the IBRG supported an Irishman who had won his case with the Local Government Ombudsman against Southwark Council, in challenging the then Liberal controlling party in Southwark. The IBRG supported the printing of a leaflet to be given out in marginal wards where the Liberals were standing. The liberals lost the election and the Liberal Leader lost his seat.
In Islington the Irish turned out in great numbers to hammer the Liberals for taking away their community centre. The Liberals lost power in Islington and the Irish had their revenge. In Haringey the Irish again refused to vote Liberal, because of what the Liberals did in Islington and the Irish felt their community centre in Haringey would be lost if the Liberals won. The Irish vote ensured Labour held on by one seat in Haringey. Thus, the Liberal Party, had they shown some respect for the Irish community, could have won three more local authorities in London. The price of racism was costly for the Liberals.
On 4th June the IBRG challenged the History Channel on its showing of the Burning of Bridget Cleary in 1859 in Ireland, in which the History Channel described the incident as the murder trial, in which the superstitions of old Ireland, were pitted against the modern rationalism of the British authorities, and was a pivotal moment in Irish history.
The IBRG in response stated ‘while the trial of Bridget Cleary was used by the then British regime in Ireland as an argument against self-rule for the Irish at the time, it is hard to believe that they now bring out the same old propaganda.
It was stated by the IBRG ’the modern rationalism of the British regime in Ireland that created wholesale Genocide against the Irish people during the Great Starvation, when the potato crop was less than 25% of the total agricultural produce of Ireland, and they using the military stole all the grain and cattle of the Irish people. For Irish people the Great Starvation was the pivotal moment of Irish history and not one isolated murder. The ordinary people of Ireland had far more rationality and dignity than the whole rotten combined imperial arrogance put together. This is not history but the same old reworking of the ’white man’s burden’ and it is time it was buried along with the rest of the rotten to the core British imperialism.
On 2nd July the IBRG had a bookstall at the Southwark Irish festival.
On 7th February Pat Reynolds had a long interview with RTE TV on the Christy McGrath case which was later shown on RTE TV on Prime Time on 1st March.
On 17th March IBRG members marched with their banner on the St Patrick’s day Parade in London. The Parade organisers tried to ban IBRG from marching, and asked the Chief Police officer there, if he had heard of IBRG, he replied that he knew everything about the IBRG. It appeared the Parade organisers were vetting who could march on the Parade or not.
On 30th April the IBRG publicly condemned the arrest of an Irishman in a rape case because of a DNA mix up Again, like the case of Kevin Reynolds, the case raised concerns in the community as the Irishman did not fit the description or age of the suspect and had a medical condition. The IBRG further condemned the searching of his house.
On 2nd May Senator Mary White wrote a letter to the Irish Times stating that the Irish abroad should be allowed either vote in Irish elections, and drew attention to the ease in which French citizens abroad were allowed to vote. She stated that the argument that Irish citizens living abroad ‘should have no say in the country’s future seems churlish at best’.
A new campaigning group Progressing Prisoners Maintaining Innocence (PPMI) had been set up in London made up of prison chaplains, support groups, prison lawyers, journalist and academics to assist prisoners, who maintain their innocence to progress through the prison system.
Their leaflet showed two cases the IBRG had helped Frank Johnson and Susan May. There had been a new European court ruling in 2002 that every prisoner was entitled to an oral hearing at tariff expiry, when the Parole Board considers release and its risk. Up to ten prisoners claiming innocence where not presented to the Parole board and just rotted in Prison. Frank Johnson was one such case where he spent seven long years in prison over his tariff, all because he claimed rightfully his innocence. The chair of the group was Bruce Kent.
On 1st July the IBRG had a bookstall at the Southwark Irish Festival and on 27th August had a bookstall again at the Crawley Irish Festival.
On 12th September the papers reported on a village magazine editor in Cornwall who had to resign after using the magazine for anti-Irish jokes portraying Irish people as stupid in a very racist fashion.
On 15th September the Irish Post reported that the Camden Irish Centre had to pay out £50,000 to the first female Director of the centre, after she had suffered a sustained campaign of sex discrimination and bullying. All previous directors had been male priests. Margaret Murnane had successfully sued the centre for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. Senior people at the centre could not accept that there was now a woman in charge of the centre which was heavily funded by the Irish government.
Kevin Reynolds seeks and wins justice
On 22nd February Mark Dixie was convicted of the murder of Sally Ann Bowman which allowed Kevin Reynolds to progress his case. On 5th March Kevin Reynold’s story was in Private Eye and what happened to him over his unlawful arrest in 2005, and how serious questions were now being asked as to why he was ever arrested given the police already had his DNA.
Kevin had an interview with BBC London on 26th March and Lynne Featherstone local Liberal MP was due to be interviewed as well, but pulled out at the last moment.
On 8th April the BBC had a programme on the Sally Ann Bowman case. Kevin could now put in his complaint over his arrest to the Independent Police Complaints Commission where there was only a 2% chance of any success, but it allowed the family to challenge the Met Police for their unlawful arrest and search.
Kevin Reynolds forced the Metropolitan Police to delete his DNA and finger prints from their records for the second time, the only man in Britain to have his DNA taken off the system twice.
On 6th July the IBRG had a bookstall at Southwark Irish Festival.
Death of Frank Johnson
On 24th October Frank Johnson who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not do, died an early death. Frank should have been released after 18 year of his tariff. The Judge at his Appeal asked why he was not released after he had served his sentence. The judge was told the truth, the reason why he was not released was because he was an innocent man, and the system will not look at any prisoner who claims innocence.
Most of the Irish papers covered his death, The Irish Post, the Irish World, Irish Times and The Nationalist. Pat Reynolds was interviewed by Tipp FM radio about his death, and called for a change in the system where innocent prisoners should not be further penalised, if they are in prison at the end of their tariff.
A number of IBRG members including Pat Reynolds, Chair of his campaign, attended Frank’s funeral in Leyton on 7th November where Gareth Pierce and Billy Power attended with many others from the Irish community.
On 11th November three men were found guilty of the murder of Baby P(Peter) an Irish child in Haringey who had been murdered by his mother’s partner. On 1st December George Meehan, the Donegal Leader of Haringey Council, had to resign over the death of Baby P while the Irish Director of Children Services Sharon Shoesmith was sacked.
The end of the year’s release of public documents showed that Queen Elizabeth’s dislike of the Irish caused anxiety among British foreign office officials, examining the possibility of a state visit by the Irish President Dr Patrick Hillary. A British civil servant wrote ‘I wonder whether in the light of the queens’ alleged dislike of the Irish’ but the details of the Queen’s dislike of the Irish were missing. The proposed visit was put off until Mary Robinson came to London.
Death of Brendan MacLua; founder and editor of Irish Post
On 13th January Brendan MacLua founder and former editor of the Irish Post died. He had set up the Irish Post in 1970 and in the late 1980’s sold it on to Smurfit, when it moved sharply to the right of centre, and away from the grass roots of the Irish community, thus losing much of its readership.
There was an EDM Early Day Motion in the House of Commons on 28th January signed by 29 MPs. He was supportive of IBRG in the early years but the claim in the American Irish Central newspaper that he had helped found IBRG was wrong, as he was equally supportive of the other two groups which formed around the same time, the Irish National Council and the Irish Interest Group, and was always supportive of the Federation of Irish Societies.
Speaking of it later he stated I preferred a two-horse race and the Federation was a one Embassy sponsored Irish horse. He had hoped that the appearance of the IBRG would put the Federation on to do things. Sadly, despite massive Embassy support they failed to ever raise their game. This was largely due to their struggle making up the hierarchy of mainly Irish social clubs in Britain, who were limited in their capacity apart from running social clubs.
The Irish Post occupied a unique spot at the heart of the Irish community until the Irish World was set up in the mid 1980’s which provided a good two horse race in itself. The claim in many areas that the Irish Post had campaigned for the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four was wrong, as part from reporting doubts at the time of the convictions, the Irish Post did little to raise the case until the IBRG came along. Very few people in the Irish community were even aware of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four in 1981.
On 14th April the British press revealed that fourteen staff were suspended In Lancashire for circulating an anti-Semitic joke on email. The Council leader stated Investigations of this nature may result disciplinary action, or in some cases termination of employment. I am sure you will understand the need for us to adopt a stringent approach to this issue’.
On the same day another headline in the Daily Mail read Senior council worker disciplined for sending racist Irish joke email. This was in Sheffield where their staff member sent it to a councillor who was second generation Irish who challenged it. The email had been sent far and wide in Sheffield. According to the Mail the council officer was being ‘disciplined for having a sense of humour.
The contrast between Lancashire and Sheffield is striking and also how the Mail treated both stories. In Lancashire the story was treated with great seriousness, and taken seriously with the leader of the council involved, and 14 people suspended, and the comments in the papers were all supportive. In Sheffield it was left up to the individual Irish councillor to complain, and only one member of staff was disciplined, and the Mail treated it as non-racist when it clearly was racist. All the comments from the public were also anti Irish.
In Britain this showed that there was an acceptance of anti-Irish racist jokes and behaviour which was condemned with other communities. There was however much anti-Semitism in the British press and much anti-Black racism and anti-Muslim hatred which was often sponsored by the tabloids.
On 5th July the IBRG had a bookstall at Southwark Irish festival.
Beresford Ellis takes on distorted Irish history book
On 13th August Peter Beresford Ellis debunked the book The Irish in Post War Britain by Enda Delaney. He tokk Mr Delaney to task over his denial of the existence of the “No Irish No Blacks No Dogs” signs. Of interest here is that a Professor in the USA claimed the same things over the “No Irish Need Apply” in the USA, and went unchallenged for several years, until a young student found compelling information in a variety of newspapers at the time.
Delaney represents a revisionist brand of Irish historians. In the book there is no mention of the Connolly Association and its work in the Irish community in Britain for several decades nor of the IBRG, Ellis states that there is ‘no mention of the Irish in Britain Representation group founded in 1981, which was certainly one of the strongest and the most active groups among the Irish emigrant population. It was founded to promote a more positive Irish identity, fight anti Irish racism and seeks more representation for the Irish community’. Neither are the Irish Post and the Irish World mentioned. Ellis endsed his review by stating the history of the Irish in Britain still needs to be written corrctly . There were of course the two related histories by T.A. Jackson and John Denvir but nothing on the modern history post war.
On 15th October IBRG members attended the First Brendan MacLua Memorial lecture given by Dr Martin Manseragh TD whospoke on the Peace Process from 1987-2009.
On 21st October it was revealed in the Irish Times that the Irish Embassy in London had spent over £250,000 on taxi and limousines in the past two years which was absolutely shocking, with Leo Varadkar describing it as clear evidence of squander. It was he said ‘further evidence that the Government were squandering millions during the boom, and were spending more for less’. The IBRG condemned this waste of the Irish taxpayer’s money when the community in Britain and at home were struggling to make ends meet.
In Scotland it was reported that a former Loyalist hitman stabbed a man after being called an Irish p….. and later admitted the stabbing in court. Meanwhile Rangers had offered 1.200 British soldiers a free entry to a Rangers match where they were photographed showing scarves, with Orange feet on the Garvaghy road. Along with an assortment of UDR banners. This bigotry in the army of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiment was shocking.
On 20th February Martin Doyle interviewed Seamus Taylor in a two-page spread in the Irish Post. Seamus who had started his career as social worker at the Camden Irish Centre for three years from 1984-1987, and set up Action Group for Irish youth.
Seamus later headed up the Haringey Irish Liaison Unit from 1987 – 2001, where he pioneered a number of reports on the Irish community, including one on Irish elders and discrimination from 2001-2004. He worked as Head of Public policy for the CRE and then from 2004-2009 worked Director of Diversity at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and from 2009 went to lecture at Maynooth University.
Seamus led the main campaign to get the CRE to recognise the Irish, where the IBRG joined the Irish Equalities Group. Seamus was a bridgehead between the more radical end of the Irish community and projects across to the more conservative and insular federation and Church based welfare centres.
Sinn Fein – Lack of Unity Conference
On 27th February the Irish Post had an article Irish community in Britain must increase its influence which was a report on a Sinn Fein held conference on Irish Unity held in London which drew over 100 people. Lord Alf Dubs and Jeremy Corbyn MP spoke at the meeting and Pat Doherty for Sinn Fein.
The Conference had ignored key speakers from the Irish community like Angela Birthill, Bernadette Hyland, Mary Mason, Pat Reynolds and others who had campaigned in Britain for over 40 years and ended up with the Federation, Irish Counties Association and an unknown trade union speaker.
The meeting noted that at the 2001 census there were 642,000 people living in Britain who identified as being Irish, yet it was felt the Irish had no political power in Britain in terms of political representation.
It was pointed out that the Unionists made up only 2% of the population of the UK whereas in Ireland they would represent 20% of the people in a United Ireland. The heyday of Irish political influence in Britain in recent times was in the period 1982-1997 when the IBRG along with Livingstone and other radical groups, TOM, LCI and the Irish workers groups, PTA groups, prisoners’ campaigns, and Irish Women’s groups were fighting back against the PTA, fighting to free all the framed prisoners, fighting for equality and equal rights, for ethnic recognition, for language rights and much more.
Sadly, what was left now was Dublin politically funded right of centre groups who lacked the ability to give any leadership or direction to the community. The earlier call years ago by the Irish in Britain Parliamentary group for an annual Irish conference of the Irish in Britain was abandoned because it did not suit the powers that be. The Federation have yet to organise a community country wide conference of any kind, to address any of the issues affecting the Irish community. Much that had been pioneered by Ken Livingstone with his consultative conference who set markers for the Irish community, followed up by several education and welfare conference by the IBRG highlighted at each stage, where the community was at.
Now we have a conference organised by those who know nothing about the Irish community in Britain, and who have yet to make clear its policy of giving the vote to the Irish abroad in all Dail elections.
On 6th May there was a General Election in the UK after which the Tories and the Liberals formed a Coalition government which was to bring in 10 years of austerity. There was an immediate pay freeze for two years on benefits and in the public sector wages.
On 15th June the Saville report into Bloody Sunday came out with a fresh verdict on the events of that massacre in Derry.
On 1st July Kevin Reynolds a second-generation Irishman from North London won a case against Tory Kent Council over maladministration where they were forced to apologise to him and offer him compensation.
On 15th January the Irish Post reported that the Hanratty family had called for the case to be reviewed by CCRC a position the IBRG supported. The Appeal hearing some years ago ruled that the Hanratty was guilty beyond doubt, which was total nonsense as over 20 witnesses placed him in North Wales over 200 miles away at the time of the murder.
The Appeal Court relied too much on contaminated DNA evidence as all the exhibits in the case were lost for several years and not secured. The IBRG was always disappointed that Cardinal Hume who visited Hanratty for half an hour before he was hanged maintained his silence in the case, and could not be bothered over the hanging on an innocent Irish man, but Hume was a loyal servant of the English Crown as he showed during the Hunger strikers.
On 25th February there was a General Election in Ireland with Enda Kenny of Fine Gael as the new Taoiseach.
On 13th March IBRG members attended the St Patricks Day Parade in London
On 26th March IBRG members joined the TUC sponsored one a half million marchers in the TUC march for jobs and against austerity.
On 6th May the SNP won the election Scotland and the same day on which the British public voted against an alternative vote system which the Liberals had put forward. Only one constituency in Britain voted for it, Hornsey Wood Green where Pat Reynolds lived.
On 17th May the English Queen visited Ireland the scene of many atrocities organised by her predecessors including the Starvation of Ireland.
On 22nd July a fascist murdered 91 young people in Norway one of the worst individual attacks in history but because it was done by the right rather than any nationalist group the media played down its impact and the growth of the far right. There were no anti-terror laws brought in against the right, these were reserved for the Irish and ex colonial minorities.
Murder of Mark Duggan
Early in August a young Black Irishman, Mark Duggan was killed by the police in a hard street stop in Tottenham. The man who ordered the hard stop was Stuart Cundy who in 2005 had ordered the unlawful arrest of Kevin Reynolds and the ransacking of his father’s house for two days. Serious rioting took place in Tottenham following the police killing which led to rioting all over the country.
On 9th September Pat Reynolds attended the funeral of Mark Duggan in Wood Green and expressed the sorrow of the Irish community to his Irish mother at the funeral. He was later buried locally in Wood Green.
On 19th October the Irish Post was back on sale after finding a new buyer after the Cork Examiner group had closed it down. There had been a campaign in the Irish community to get the Irish Post back for the community. On 22nd October the Irish Post published the list of MPs who supported the campaign to bring back the Irish Post. Some 75 MPs signed the EDM. Again, Kate Hoey whom Maclua supported so much, stuck to her Unionist credentials and did not sign it.
On 20th October Ghaddafi the Leader of Libya was murdered in a West inspired war that destroyed the country.
On 27th October Michael D Higgins Labour was selected the new President of Ireland and he went on to serve two terms. He was a good friend of the Irish community in Britain and had been over to Haringey to speak about his Channel Four programme on the Irish in Monserrat.
Manchester Irish Community Care gives dignity back to Irish
On 26th November the Irish Post reported Forgotten Irish saved from paupers’ graves which showed that Manchester Irish Community care had helped to give some seventy Irish people who died without any know relatives a dignified burial. A further 14 were repatriated on death back for burial in Ireland. The story and issue should have been in every national paper in Britain and Ireland if this had been any other community in Britain, yet again the Irish government, the church and others keep this quiet how many in our community die lonely isolated deaths without anybody.
In December a book written by Tommy Walsh of Liverpool on Being Irish in Liverpool was brought out after he had died. It had a chapter on the Federation of Irish Societies of which he was a member.
Biography by Tommy Walsh.
In his politics Tommy was far closer to IBRG than the non-political Federation and he was supportive of the miscarriages of justice and of prisoners and fought against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Tommy spoke at several IBRG conferences in Manchester and was interviewed for an pobal eirithe (IBRG magazine) in issue number 4. He was close to Brendan MacLua of the Irish Post.
On 3rd January two men were found guilty at long last of the murder of Black youth Stephen Lawrence. The failure of the police in the early investigation led to allegations of corruption and racism and the murders were allowed to run free, despite evidence coming in from the community.
On 21st January the Irish Post had a story Sally Mulready appointment is recognition of the Irish Diaspora when Michel D Higgins appointed her to the Council of State the first-time person from abroad had been appointed.
The only problem with it, while it is an honour for the individual concerned, it made no difference whatsoever to the lives of Irish people in Britain, as there was no feedback mechanism, and the person chosen was hostile to the Irish in Britain having a vote in Dail Eireann elections.
It was a token appointment with no feedback whatsoever to the Irish abroad, and no way for the Irish abroad to have any input whatsoever to the role of the Irish President.
On 24th January Gerry Lawless died. He was a former Sunday World journalist and a former Labour councillor in Hackney and a former member of International Marxist Group, but was not active in the Irish community.
In November the IBRG challenged the anti papist torchlight parade through Lewes with burning crosses like something from a Klu Klux Clan gathering the town had a big banner No Popery across its street. To the local Irish communities in South East England, it was a vile sectarian racist parade which was clearly anti Catholic and was an incitement to hatred of Catholics and the Irish who were perceived as all catholic.
In 2012 the Irish Government were to politically fund the Federation of Irish Societies to the tune of £475,000, for which the Irish community saw nothing, not even one Irish conference held in Britain, not even one open day.
Likewise, the Irish Chaplaincy was funded to the tune of £225,800 again with the Irish community have no access to any consultation or representation.
The London Irish Centre also got £448,500 and again they offered the Irish community very little by way of any conference or consultation. The Irish community saw nothing for the money spent and there was no accountability to the community.
Irish on Blacklist
On 2nd March the Irish Post highlighted story Blacklist probe into alleged police collusion where thousands of building workers had been blacklisted over the previous 30 years including many Irish workers. The Consulting Association had a list of over 3,200 people that they had blacklisted and shared this information with building contractors. It was believed that the Special demonstrations Squad shared information with this company, the man leading the company stated that there was a two-way exchange of information between the company and the police for many years.
Bernadette Hyland interviewed Blacklist campaigner Steve Acheson for the Morning Star newspaper read it here
Earlier in February over 100 construction workers picketed the Crossrail project alleged that the Company were blacklisters and getting rid of workers, who were raising health and safety issues. John McDonnell MP had called for an independent inquiry into organised victimisation of workers by British companies the most common names on the blacklist were, some 20 named Kelly, 16 named Gallagher, 15 called Murphy, and 59 with names beginning with an O, which showed the number of Irish workers had been victimised. The list was discovered in 2009 after a raid on the company by the Data Commissioner.
Plaque to Jack Kennedy
On 16th March IBRG members attended the opening of a plaque to Tipperary man Jack Kennedy opposite the Arsenal stadium at which Jeremy Corbyn MP and Pat Reynolds spoke. Jack had been part of the Birmingham Six Campaign and Frank Johnson campaigns plus the Construction Safety campaign
In April the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died and was buried and did not rise again. She was remembered for the brutal war in the Malvinas and the war crime sinking of the Belgrano which it was returning home, her refusal to defuse the Irish 1981 hunger strikes, and her brutal unemployment policies of the 1980’s which left millions unemployed.
Over 30,000 people including many Irish people attended a Trafalgar Square celebration wake for Thatcher and on the day of her funeral protested outside the Royal Courts of Justice, turning their backs on the military funeral given her persecution of Republican funerals in Ireland. Her funeral cost over £10 million.
On 22nd May a British soldier was killed in Woolwich South London in a street terror attack which shocked the British public.
In June Ruari O Bradiagh of Republican Sinn Fein died after a lifetime of voluntary activities and former Sinn Fein President before he split with Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein over going into Dail Eireann.
Success of Pat Reynolds against Haringey Council
In June Haringey Council settled an Employment tribunal claim in full brought by Pat Reynolds which included a claim of £10,000 for racial discrimination and back pay of £13,000.
Haringey Council had wrongly claimed that Pat Reynolds had historical links with the INLA, and reported him to the then professional body the old Social Work Council. This allegation was false and showed what Irish workers had to put up with in Britain with hidden records held against them. Pat only discovered the claim when he requested his data file off the Social Work Council.
It would appear that Haringey lifted the material from a Google search of the internet, and linked the murder of Garda Patrick Reynolds a distant cousin of the family by the INLA in Dublin back in 1982 in Tallaght Dublin.
Pat Reynolds had served as an Irish community representative on Haringey Ethnic Minorities Committee for over 15 years, and even had been awarded anti-racist award for his cross communities work in Haringey where back in 1989, he led a Black Irish march for Civil Rights and Justice, and led the campaign to support Bernie Grant to become MP in 1987. The Bernie Grant Centre in Haringey recorded Pat Reynolds tribute to Bernie Grant’s life work along with other tributes including one form Tony Blair on its website.
Pat was also a long-term member of Haringey Fostering and Adoption Panel. He had worked as a Manager in Haringey Children and Families team, with a case responsibility for over 120 young people in care, including working with gangs in the borough to make Haringey a safer place to live.
His case highlights what often happened to Irish workers in Britain where secret records often false were held against them, in secret files and passed on to professionals and in this case the registration body.
Despite the war being over in Ireland 15 years ago the British state and its agents were still discriminating against Irish people in Britain who stood up for their rights and the rights of their community.
Federation of Irish Societies attempts to become Irish in Britain
In June the Irish Post reported that the Federation of Irish Societies were rebranding themselves as the Irish in Britain. One might think that they should have consulted with the real Irish in Britain Representation Group on the issue. It was as if they were trying to steal all the excellent work done by the IBRG over the past 30 years and claim it as their own. Perhaps they were learning after 30 years finding out how the Irish community viewed themselves “In Britain” but not British.
The claim of the Federation now that they were the sole representative’s body of the Irish community in Britain was clear nonsense as the organisation was not open to the Irish community, nor was it accessible. They have failed for over 40 years to hold even one consultative conference with the Irish community or allow that community to have any voice. They are mainly made up of the hierarchy of the Irish social clubs in Britain mainly bars, and cannot say they represent any community.
Death of Seamus Heaney
In August the Nobel winner Seamus Heaney the Irish poet died. People will remember him for his poem ‘no glass of mine was ever raised to toast an English Queen’ when the British tried to claim him as British after he won the Nobel prize.
In September an Irish Innocence Project was set up in Ireland and the IBRG wrote to them offering them support and asking whether they would take on Irish cases in Britain.
On 10th September IBRG members attended the House of Commons for a public meeting on the Ballymurphy Massacre and to hear relatives speak of the brutal murders caried out by Crown faces in Belfast in the early 1970’s.
IBRG challenge Citizens Assembly and voting rights for Irish
On 11th September IBRG members attended a public meeting in London where Tom Arnold Chair of the Citizens Assembly in Ireland on the Vote for emigrants was speaking. Pat Reynolds challenged the Chair over the brief given to him and the Assembly to restrict any discussion of the vote for emigrants to just a token vote for the Irish president.
The exercise was a mechanism for blocking the Irish abroad from getting the vote in Dail Eireann and should be referred back to the Irish government for a broader reference to include votes for Dail Eireann election, so the People assembly could make a proper decision on the issue
On 19th September the IBRG put in a detailed submission to the People’s Assembly in Ireland calling for the Irish to be given the vote in Dail Eireann.
Martin Foran still trying to clear his name
On 19th October the Irish Post carried the story of Limerick man Martin Foran a case the IBRG had supported years ago. Martin while out of prison was still trying to clear his good name after he was wrongly convicted in 1985. Marin was one of many ordinary Irishmen in Britain who were routinely wrongly convicted because of racism discrimination and because of their class.
On 2nd November the Irish Post ran a story Author’s living history CD highlights shameful lack of emigration museum. Historian Ultan Cowley and author of The Men who built Britain: A History of the Irish Navvy (2001) lamented the lack of an emigration museum in Britain detailing the lives of Irish people in Britain.
On 5th December the great man Mandela leader of the South African freedom movement and the ANC and first Black South African leader died. IBRG members were part of the anti-apartheid movement in Britain throughout the 1980’s and marched in London for an end to apartheid. Parties in London by South African exiles always had a number of Irish people attended, and their parties were similar to Irish parties with house singing and the playing of musical instruments, and where Irish songs of resistance were welcomed. A popular poster at the time was of Ireland/ South Africa One struggle.
Haringey IBRG had put on an exhibition linking the Irish struggle with South Africa which incurred the hatred of the Tories and the racist tabloids. Pat Reynolds recalled how in the million strong anti apartheid march in London, where the IBRG banner was bringing up the rear and was leaving Finsbury Park when the first of the march was reached Hyde Park.
On 11th January IBRG members attended the Vigil outside of Tottenham police station on the Mark Duggan killing by the police.
On 14th March Tony Benn died. Tony was a wonderful supporter of Irish freedom and independence over many years, and often spoke at the Bloody Sunday rallies. He had intervened in the Kate Magee case and the McNulty’s by ringing up the governors of Durham and Belmarsh Prison to ensure that they got their rights.
On 16th March IBRG members attended the St Patrick’s day Parade in London.
On 24th March IBRG members attended Bob Crow, leader of the RMT’s funeral in East London,where the streets were lined with people there to remember his life.
On 27th March IBRG members attended Tony Benn’s funeral service at Westminster which Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams attended.
In March IBRG members attended the Stand up to Racism and Fascism rally in London which drew 7,000 people. Austin Harney was also there with others protesting at current politics in Britain which were anti-immigrant. Later Diana Abbott MP addressed the rally.
On 7th April President Higgins was in London to meet the English Queen.
MacLua’s collection donated to Liverpool University
On 17th May the Irish Post ran a story MacLua library starts a fresh chapter in Irish Studies, which stated that a new Library of over 6,000 books had been opened at Liverpool University, to which the Maclua family had donated a full archive of the Irish Post which had belonged to Brendan Maclua, and which had every Irish Post from its beginning in 1970 to Brendan’s death. There is a second archive at the Metropolitan
Victor Nealson case
On 31st May the Irish Post covered the story of a Dublin man Victor Nealson who spent over 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The former postman had his case turned down twice by the CCRC before he had his conviction quashed. It was based on the same issue as happened with Frank Johnson, where the police again withheld information, that would have led to his release. The CCRC also made big mistakes in his case for which they apologised. Again, like Frank Johnson he was denied release because he continued to assert his innocence, and was further punished.
Death of Gerry Conlon
Gerry Conlon and sisters.
On 21st June Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Died at a young age. On 12th July Alex McDonnell had a letter in the Irish Post detailing the campaign to free the Guildford Four, and praised the work of Theresa Smalley, Paul Hills aunt and her partner Errol Smalley, along with St Sarah Clarke and the IBRG, and to Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell. The campaign to free the Guildford Four was based at the IBRG founded Irish in Islington centre and led by IBRG member Tom Barron. Jeremy Corbyn also gave his full support and attended Paul Hill’s wedding in prison.
On 3rd July Pat Reynolds and other IBRG members picketed the Irish Embassy in London over the Tuam babies’ scandal to give support to their campaign.
On 21st August Albert Reynolds the former Irish Taoiseach died in Ireland and was given a State Funeral. He was a second cousin to the father of Pat Reynolds.
On 12th September Ian Paisley died in N. Ireland.
On 18th October IBRG members joined the TUC march for decent wages in London.
On 10th December IBRG members joined the picket of the Irish Embassy over the Water Charges in Ireland and late the same day attended a picket of 10 Downing St over the Historical cases. There was a street exhibition of many of the shoes worn by the victims of British murders in Ireland, which attracted much attention from Londoners and tourists from little children shoes to those of Irish elders who had lost their lives. That evening
IBRG members attended a meeting at the House of Commons on the Historical cases calling for justice for all.
Picket of Channel 4 over “comedy” on Great Starvation in Ireland
On 17th January IBRG members took part in a picket of Channel 4 over their proposed comedy on the great Starvation of Ireland. Pat Reynolds spoke at the picket. Graham Linehan of Fr Ted had a go at the protesters in an ignorant way.
John Ryan a stand-up comedian in a more balanced view stated ‘if they are making a programme based on the Potato Blight and the policy of Famine, and thereby using comedy to raise awareness of an appalling act of genocide, and dark period of Irish history then good luck to them’, adding, ‘However I fear a romp along the lines of Fr Ted and Mrs Brown and fiddley dee dee let’s mock the Irish. Will the Irish habit of ridiculing ourselves along the stereotypical lines that are always churned out ever end? I do not recall any Jewish comedy set in the gas chambers nor Black comedy on the slave ships. But maybe they don’t have our humour, or maybe they have more respect for their history’.
On 20th January Pat Reynolds attended the funeral of Mike Marqusee who was part of the leadership of the anti-war coalition. Pat had known Mike for several years from various political events. Jeremy Corbyn MP was speaking at his funeral. The contributions made at his funereal went towards Medical Aid for Palestinians.
On 19th February there was a debate at the Comedy Club on the Channel Four and the Great Starvation where Pat Reynolds spoke from the floor on anti-Irish racism in Britain.
On 15th March IBRG took part in the St Patricks day parade in London.
On 22nd April IBRG members attended a lecture given by Geoff Bell on 1916 and the Irish d to deliver on his promise of a vote on Europe. Miliband the Labour Leader resigned.
In Manchester Bernadette Hyland published “Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women”. The book reflected on Bernadette’s own history including her involvement in IBRG as well as a trade unionist. It contained interviews with Bernadette McAliskey and other northern women activists.
“Struggles for a past: Irish and Afro-Caribbean histories in England, 1951-2000” by Kevin Myers was published. Kevin interviewed Bernadette Hyland for the book and used the Irish Collection at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.
Another book The Irish in the Troubles in London included material on the IBRG but was revisionist in outlook in trying to play down the role of the Prevention of Terrorism Act without any evidence for this.
Ruan O’Donnell’s book on IRA prisoners in Britain included some material on the IBRG.In 1998 he had taken part in Manchester IBRG’s conference on celebrating 1798.
On 20th June the Irish Post had an article entitled “Dromey I will ensure that the voice of the Irish is always heard’. The only problem is that the Irish community could not recall Jack Dromey doing anything for Irish people at any stage of his political career. He claimed in his article ‘I will be the champion of the cause of Ireland’ which again no one in the community could recall him ever doing anything for Ireland or its cause.
When the election came up years ago for the Secretary of the T&GWU the IBRG advised Irish people to vote for Bill Morris , rather than Jack Dromey.
Bill Morris helped several Irish workers who were injured whilst working in Britain. Bill Morris was generous in his approach to helping injured Irish workers, who were forced onto the lump system in Britain, and in one case which Pat Reynolds supported, Bill accepted the Irish worker’s previous membership of union in Ireland, as evidence that the Irish workers would have joined a union in Britain if given the chance, and were entitled to support from their trade union brothers and sisters.
On 12th September Jeremy Corbyn, former member of IBRG, got elected a leader of the British Labour Party. The IBRG had supported Corbyn’s election as MP back in 1983. He had supported the local Irish community, and was also strong on support for a United Ireland, and was involved in supporting many of the miscarriages of justice like the Guildford Four and others.
The IBRG put out a statement welcoming the election of Corbyn, and noted that the Blairite Labour Party has now lost two elections in 2010 and 2015 despite the worst austerity programme in Europe imposed by the right-wing Tory government. The IBRG noted that Scotland had gone SNP and would never come back to Labour. The IBRG also pointed out that Labour would never regain power in Britain with loss of Scotland without a system of PR. The IBRG noted that many members of the Irish community had paid the £3 fee to join Labour to vote for Corbyn.
IBRG application to join Undercover Inquiry
On 17th September the IBRG applied for status in the Undercover Inquiry set up in Britain to look into how police infiltrated community organisations in the 1970-2000. The Inquiry Judge turned down the IBRG application leaving no Irish representation within the inquiry.
There was clear evidence that Sinn Fein in London and Troops Out movement had been infiltrated. That MI5 agent Pat Daly had infiltrated IBRG and set up the 1985 cases involving Maire O’Shea and Peter Jordan, and later set up McGonigle and Heffernan who received heavy sentences. Daly was set up for life with tax payers’ money and paid off for his criminal activities within the Irish community.
On 27th November the English Times had an article on John McDonnell which covered a public meeting In Lewisham back in the 1980’s, which had a photo of the platform speakers which included Diarmuid Breatnach.
The two-page article entitled McDonnell gave his backing to IRA’s bombing campaign included photo of John McDonnell with Gerry Adams and Corbyn. The meeting referred to was on 23rd October 1986 at the Amersham Arms pub in New Cross, and the platform names with a photo were Francie Molloy Sinn Fein, John McDonnell, John O Brien of the Irish in Britain Representation Group, and Diarmuid Breatnach secretary of the Lewisham Irish in Britain Representation group.
The Times quoted McDonnell as saying at the meeting that the ‘ballot, the bullet and the bomb’ could all be used to unite Ireland, in a newly discovered speech in welcoming Sinn Fein to London. The Times stated that there were over 100 people at the meeting. The Times quoted Diarmuid Breatnach as follows’ Diarmuid Breatnach, Secretary of the Lewisham branch of the Irish in Britain Representation group, which organised the meeting, sat on the panel with Mr McDonnell at the pub meeting. He said last night’ I do recall him making some throwaway but unfortunate remark about knee capping, in the context of the rate capping that the Conservative government was introducing at the time’. The Lewisham IBRG banner was shown in the photo as backdrop to the panel speakers.
On 23rd October Pat Reynolds had a letter in the Guardian over their feature article which claimed that the No Irish No Blacks No Dogs signs did not exist as they claimed, there was no photographic evidence of this. Pat Reynolds challenged this by pointing the oral history within the Black and Irish communities of this.
This was a similar campaign like this one in America by an unknown Professor who claimed the same thing there, until a young female student several years later demolished his fake fabrication, by showing reams of evidence for a number of papers in the USA which cleared stated No Irish need apply. Indeed, The Clancy Brothers had a folk song on the matter. Pat Reynolds had a letter in his collection from an employer in the Midlands after the 2nd World war which clearly stated in writing This company does not employ Irish people.
In January the Photographers gallery in London had a 1916 exhibition which included many of Sean Sexton’s photos.
On 26th February there was a General Election in Ireland with no overall result.
The 100th anniversary of 1916 was on 27th March.
On 26th April the verdict of the Hillsborough inquiry was unlawful killing.
On 6th May Enda Kenny of Fine Gael became the new Taoiseach of a minority government in Ireland.
On 4th June Mohamed Ali the great boxer died.
On 4 June Bernadette Hyland and Michael Herbert of the Mary Quaile Club launched a history of Manchester Irish trade unionist Mary Quaile called and in Mary’s own words “Dare to Be Free”. Alongside a history of Mary the book included short histories of present day women trade unionists. More details here
On 23rd June the Brexit vote was held in the UK with the slim majority voting to leave the EU. Both Scotland and Nt Ireland voted to stay in Europe.
On 27th June Pat Reynolds attended a London conference on the Hunger Strikes at Notre Dame University Campus at which Fr.McVeigh and Lawrence McKeown were speaking. The conference was very academic with many students there with few from the Irish community. The event was entitled Rethinking the 1980/81 Hunger Strikes Symposium and included Cathal McLoughlin who was involved in Activision in London in the 1980’s.
On 27th June IBRG supported a demo at the House of Commons to support Corbyn who had come under attack from within the Labour Party who were mounting challenge to his leadership.
On 6th July the Chilcot report came on the Blair war on Iraq and the man with no shame tried to defend himself.
On 13th July Cameron resigned as Tory Leader after the Brexit vote with Theresa May later elected leader of the Tories. He later went on 12th September.
In August many IBRG members went to see the film Booby Sands 66 days which was on in London.
On 24th September Corbyn won the Labour leadership election for the second time by a huge majority.
On 9th October IBRG members attended the Battle of Cable Street 80th anniversary rally and demo in east London in commemoration of the Irish dockers who took part in the amss mobilsation to stop Mosley and his fascists from attacking the Jewish community in the East End.
The Irish community had fond memories of the Jewish community feeding their hungry children during a number of docks strikes years earlier in the East End, and would now stand with the Jewish community in fighting the fascists and stopping their march. In the 1960’s the docks were closed with the opening of Tilbury and containerisation. Much of the old history of the Irish in the East End was lost, and also happened on the other side of the river in Bermondsey.
In October Michael Holden, former secretary of Hemel Hempstead IBRG died, while at home on holidays in Ireland. He had been involved in the Tepublican movement all his life and in later years in the Political Status campaign.
On 23rd November Pat Cullinane of Harrow IBRG died after a difficult and hard life after he was wrongly evicted by the Inland Revenue over an alleged tax bill. It was shocking that a man could be driven from his home over an alleged small tax bill, when Pat was an ordinary working man. His eviction and loss of his homestead impacted upon his mental and physical health and led eventually to his early death. His case is shocking case which was covered by the Guardian and other papers.
On 25th January IBRG members attended the Camden Irish centre for a meeting on the N. Ireland Troubles in Britain.
In April Paddy Armstrong of the Guildford Four brought out a book called Life after Life.
Launch of MSWTUC Minute Books website
On 29th April Bernadette Hyland was a key note speaker at the Mary Quaile club event at the NWTUC’s May Day Manchester Mechanics Institute. The event was to launch the website containing the Minutes of the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trade Union Council 1895-1919 which Bernadette had transcribed from hand written originals. Present day activist, Lisa Turnbull of the Durham T.A.’s Campaign formally switched on the website.
One of the pages of the Minutes Book
In the run up to the General Election the Sunday Times ran a scurrilous article on Jeremy Corbyn claiming that he arranged a job for an IRA bomber at the Irish in Islington project. The story was a pack of lies as Corbyn had nothing to do with anybody getting any job. This was total propaganda by the Sunday Times. Corbyn did not even know the name of the worker appointed.
The story on 28th May was headed Jeremy Corbyn secured a salary for convicted IRA terrorist by Andrew Gilligan. The article was nonsense and a poor reflection on the journalist involved. He also claimed the project was raided by the police under the PTA which was a total lie. It never happened. The claim that Corbyn knew McLoughlin before he was employed was made up, as Corbyn only met McLoughlin after he was appointed as Sinn Fein representative in London which had nothing to do with the project. McLoughlin was never charged let alone convicted of being in the IRA.
The letter of support for the Irish Welfare Project was a standard MP letter of support before the project was funded. Margaret Hodge Leader of Islington Council wrote a similar letter so why did Gilligan not mention this.
Gilligan of course knew full well that Corbyn had nothing whatsoever to do with the appointment of the workers at the project, as this was done by the Management committee of the project who did the short listing and interviewing under equal opportunities.
Gilligan knew all this because he had access to extensive files from the state and from archives, so why did he make up this propaganda story for the Sunday Times. His story was abusive of the project and of the management committee and he made no attempt to talk to anybody from the Irish community about his story.
On 8th June there was a General Election in the UK with Theresa May going for a bigger majority did worse and had to do deal with the DUP to survive. Labour and Corbyn did extremely well.
On 19th June IBRG members attended a meeting at the Camden Irish Centre on the vote for emigrants.
On 11th August Bill Aulsbury a leading figure in Haringey’s Irish community died.
On 28th September IBRG members attended the Brendan McLua lecture at Hammersmith Irish Centre on the links between Nationalism in Ireland and Germany in the 1800’s. The title of the lecture and book launch was Ireland and Europe History and Nationalism by Shane Nagle
On 26th October IBRG members attended the launch of a book by Ivan Gibbons about the Labour Party and Irish Nationalists around 1900. The title of his book was The British Labour Party and the establishment of the Irish free State 1918-1924. Ivan was sone of the pioneers of Irish studies in London and used to publish the booklet Irish Studies in London back in the 1980’s.
On 29th October IBRG members attended the Terence McSwiney Commemoration at Southwark cathedral. Sadly, only small numbers now attend.
On 28th November IBRG members attended a House of Commons meeting to hear Sinn Fein speaking on Brexit.
On 19th February the Irish History Collection at the London Metropolitan University contacted the IBRG to seek permission to digitise the IBRG material in their files which would bring IBRG to far more people on line.
On 24th March IBRG members attended the Irish Unity Conference called by Sinn Fein at the TUC HQ Congress House where Gerry Adams and Mary Lou were speaking. Over 500 people attended. Adams spoke about trying to set up a campaign for Irish Unity in Britain but appeared clueless as to how this could happen. What is happening now is big Sinn Fein meetings with big name speakers but nothing at all on the ground to affect any change in Britain. The title of the meeting was After Brexit the prospects for a United Ireland which had a range of speakers including Geoff Bell, Professor Mary Hickman and Matt Carty MEP
On 27th March IBRG members attended the House of Commons for a meeting on the film No Stone Unturned on the Loughinisland massacre during the World Cup.
On 17th April IBRG members again attended a meeting at Portcullis House on the Good Friday Agreement where Francie Molloy, Paul Bew and Michelle Gildernew were speaking. The title of the meeting was 20 years on Defending the Good Friday Agreement.
On 2nd May IBRG members stated the Hammersmith Irish centre to hear the revisionist historian Bernard Canavan speak about 1918 and Conscription. He made some offensive remarks about the Great Starvation of Ireland being an act of nature, which Pat Reynolds openly challenged him on.
170 Commemoration of Great Starvation
On 13th May a 170th commemoration meeting was held outside the TUC Congress House to remember the Great Starvation at which Pat Reynolds spoke .
He said that what happened during the Great Starvation was the English Government had conducted a war of starvation against the Irish people by using garrisons all over Ireland to forcibly remove cattle and grain from Ireland when the potato crop was only 25% of the agricultural produce of Ireland. Despite the Blight affecting much of Western Europe only in Ireland were the people deprived of alternate food and died from hunger and disease caused directly by English action and inaction. The TUC is in the St Giles area of London where many the emigrants Irish lived in slums.
On 17th May IBRG members attended a meeting at Congress House on Irish politics where ex IBRG member Maire Doolin was speaking as a trade union representative along with Orla Orfhlaigh Begley the new Sinn Fein MP from N. Ireland.
On 21st May Pat Reynolds attended a meeting at the Camden Irish centre to discuss organising a meeting around Irish unity at the Labour Party conference. This was a follow on from the Unity conference.
On 26th May IBRG members attended a meeting in Ladbroke Grove on the history of the Irish in North Kensington and the area. The lecture was entitled the Lost World of Irish London by Patrick Joyce from Manchester University who produced a written an eight-page summary of his talk complete with old pictures.
On 16th June IBRG members attended Conway Hall to hear Gary Younge of the Guardian speak to a packed house on Civil Rights in Britain and the USA.
On 11th October IBRG members attended the Hammersmith Irish centre on the anniversary of the Civil Rights movement to hear Marianne Elliot speak on the issue and her experience of it at the time. The title of her lecture was Why 1968 still Matters Northern Ireland at the Cross roads.
On 15th October Pat Reynolds attended a London meeting of People Assembly which the panel were recommending it as the answer to everything. But, Pat from the floor, pointed out that this mechanism had totally failed the Irish abroad on the question of the vote, because the system behind it was deeply flawed. The Government could dictate the limitation on any question as the Irish government did over the votes for the Irish abroad, and the Irish abroad got a tokenistic vote in a seven year presidential election, which is meaningless and without any power or purpose. The meeting held in the Constitution Unit of University College London was entitled Citizens Assemblies How can the UK learn from Ireland
A second lecture on the same evening raised the same question again. This was held at the Commercial Law centre at the Queen Mary College and was entitled Winning the Right to Vote which was based on the Irish abroad getting the vote in Ireland.
On 19th October IBRG members attended the Hammersmith Irish centre for the showing of the new film Black ’47 with questions afterwards to the Director. Pat Reynolds was able to raise a question of the Great Starvation from the floor.
On 25th October IBRG members attended the Hammersmith Irish centre for the Launching of small book on the Border by Ivan Gibbons, which he had rushed out to coincide with the Brexit debate on borders. The title of his small book was Drawing the Line the Irish Border in British politics.
On 26th October President Higgins got his second term in office for another seven years.
On 28th October IBRG members attended the MacSwiney commemoration at Southwark cathedral.
On 12th November IBRG members attended St Marks Church near Euston to hear John McDonnell speak on his economic vision for socialist future in his talk Transforming the State.
On 13th December IBRG members attended Somerset House in London to hear a BAIS lecture on the Irish in the American Civil war.
On 22nd January Pat Reynolds had an online Guardian reply on the People’s Assemblies which the Guardian was promoting, again raising the issue that even this was flawed because Governments could dictate what was debated.
On 12th March IBRG members attended a debate at the London School of Economics on Brexit.
On 1st May IBRG members attended the Hammersmith Irish centre to hear Roy Foster speak mainly on the Irish revolution and he spoke about the role of women. He had been criticised in the past for leaving women out of his Irish history. Pat Reynolds asked him about the 1918 Irish election, a real Brexit of its own, and a huge majority vote by the Irish people which had been ignored and both communities in N. Ireland had paid the price for this ever since.
On 8th May the Irish writer Martina Evans was speaking to a full house at the Hammersmith Irish centre where she paid tribute to the Green Ink bookshop as resource in her early writing.
On 23rd May the Euro elections were held for the last time in the UK
On 3rd July the Minister for the Diaspora was in Camden where Pat Reynolds challenged him on the vote for emigrants. Most of the groups attending were all clients of the Irish state in that they were all receiving funding from the Irish government.
On 26th June Martin Ferris was at the Camden Irish centre where he was launching a new book “Ireland’s Hunger For Justice”. In discussion with Pat Reynolds, he spoke highly of Maurice Moore now back home in Co Kerry.
On 22nd August IBRG members were at the Camden Irish centre to hear Eamonn McCann speak about the Troubles and Bloody Sunday. Over 200 people attended.
On 26th September IBRG members attended the Hammersmith Irish centre for the Brendan McLua lecture which had the author of Unfinished Business speaking of Republicans who were fighting on after the Good Friday agreement.
On 20th October IBRG members attended the Terence MacSwiney commemoration at Southwark cathedral where only 15 people attended.
On 27th October IBRG members attended the Terence McSweeney commemoration outside of Brixton prison with the police turning up just as we finished. The meeting was called by Sinn Fein supporters in London.
On 5/6th December the Daily Mail ran a large-scale feature story over several pages attacking Corbyn over a made-up story over the Irish in Islington Project, and a false allegation that Corbyn had got a job for an ex-IRA bomber, and secured the job for him.
The story was totally made up and total nonsense without one shred of evidence to back it up. It was just propaganda. The Mail even claimed that Corbyn shared an office with an IRA bomber despite the Corbyn office being over two miles away at the Red Rose club. Pat Reynolds as former Chair of the Irish in Islington project put in a complaint to IPSO over the story, which is still awaiting adjudication.
On 28th January IBRG attended the Grand Committee Room at the House of Commons to hear the new Sinn Fein MP John Finucane son of the murdered solicitor Pat Finucane.
On 31st January the UK left the EU for good.
On 8th February there was an Irish General Election in which Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party ahead of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. In the end Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did a deal to keep out Sinn Fein and create a coalition government, with Michaël Martin as Taoiseach reverts back to Fine Gael after two years.
On 9th March Pat Reynolds attended the launch of the digital version of the Irish archives at the Metropolitan University where as the Irish Ambassador was speaking the projection was showing up many images of the history of the IBRG.
COVID-19 locked down Britain in March and ended public meetings and events in Britain for the rest of the year.
Black Lives Matters was to dominate politics in the USA and Britain for much of the year.
In June Jim Curran made headlines in the media including the Daily Mail for his support for Black Lives Matter and he was featured on ITV and on the social media all over the world for his stand against racism in the Black Lives campaign.
On 15th July the Haringey Irish centre closed for good. The IBRG had been involved in setting it up back in the 1980’s and its first chair was Maurin Higgins of IBRG.
On 4th September Brendan Mulkere Irish music teacher died.
In October Paddy Cowan founder of the Irish World died and Pat Reynolds paid tribute to him in the Irish World the next week.
On 3rd November the USA election took place with Joe Biden of Irish descent winning over Trump of German descent.
On 17th December Pat Reynolds had the top letter in the Irish Post on votes for emigrants in response to the Irish government published policy towards the Irish aboard, where it falsely claimed to have the best relationship in the world with the Irish abroad of all nations. This was clearly nonsense as the Irish Government was one of the most backward governments in the world, when it came to the vote for its citizens aboard and there was a democratic deficit in Ireland.
During 2020 Pat Reynolds wrote up a year-by-year history of the IBRG which Bernadette Hyland blogged on line. It now means that the history of the IBRG will be there for future generations to read and learn from. Bernadette has also given over her archive of IBRG history – including the Minute Books of North West IBRG branches – to the Working Class Movement and the Irish Collection there- and students and activists will be able to access it.
Listen to my talk about the IBRG in the northwest in the Irish Collection at the WCML here
An excellent history of 200 years of Irish political activity in Manchester – including Manchester IBRG read “The Wearing of the Green” by Michael Herbert. Buy it here
Read previous posts on IBRG history here
More IBRG history on the website (now defunct) here