Patrick Reynolds was one of the founders of IBRG and played a key role in its history. He is now writing up that history and putting it into the context of radical history in Britain and Ireland in the C20th.
This year started early for the IBRG when Peter Jordan was arrested in Liverpool on Christmas Eve 1984, while IBRG member Peter Lynch was arrested on New Year’s Day 1985, along with others following joint Gardai raids in Dublin.
On New Year’s Day an Irish Press editorial in Dublin covered the case. It reported a Dublin man had been arrested in Liverpool on Christmas Eve at the same time as the Gardai had raided the family home in Dublin the same evening, without informing the family where the missing man was.
The Editorial stated: ‘this is not the first time that the Prevention of Terrorism Act has been used in Britain to humiliate and degrade innocent Irish visitors. Indeed, so common has it become that Irish people feel justifiably nervous when arriving at British ports or airports. There seems to be an attitude among the British Special Branch to Irish people visiting Britain, which owes more to the old caricatures of the dangerous Paddy in Punch than to any real information. The incidence of detention under this particularly oppressive law would indicate that the British police seem to think of all Irish people as terrorists or potential terrorists…. The whole Liverpool episode highlights the almost racist nature of the way in which the Prevention of Terrorism Act is implemented’.
On 5 January 1985 the Irish Times covered a major IBRG statement condemning the recent arrests of six people including three IBRG members under the PTA under the heading ‘Group Condemns Arrests’.
The Birmingham home of IBRG member, Dr Maire O’Shea, who was Ireland at the time, had been searched on Christmas Eve. The IBRG noted that the arrests followed a week after the IBRG announced the start of a public campaign in Britain and Ireland against the racist PTA laws, which had created a suspect community of the Irish in Britain.
After Maire O’Shea was arrested Joe Mullarkey of Bolton IBRG remembers: “ Following Maire O’Shea detention in Liverpool, myself, Jim King, Arthur Devlin, Kathleen and David Wright went to Liverpool and picketed the police station. Cannot remember the date only it was a Sunday night. Arthur Devlin visited Peter Lynch on a few occasions when he was moved to Manchester. I also visited Peter.”
The Irish Times covered in full our long and detailed statement setting out our demands in relation to the PTA. IBRG called on the Irish government to end their subservient role they had with Britain over the PTA, and stand up and defend their citizens abroad and their citizens travelling to and from Britain. They reiterated our call to the Irish government to publicly condemn the PTA and call for its repeal, to monitor each and every arrest under the PTA and to provide a solicitor in Britain to assist those arrested under the Act.
During the week, while Pat Reynolds was working on the case with Maire O’Shea’s daughter who lived in St Albans, and Irish journalists, his phone was cut off by the Special Branch and he had to leave his house to go to a safe place to continue his work. Ten hours later the phone was restored after the house in St Albans had been raided.
On 8 January 1985 the Guardian covered the arrests. Pat Reynolds was quoted: ‘the PTA is a political breathalyser. If an Irish person expresses political views, he is considered above the limit’.
Clive Soley, Shadow Home Office spokesperson, stated: ‘I regard it as one of the most serious infringements of the democratic rights of British people’. The Guardian article was headed “Opponents of anti-terrorist act renew campaign”.
In a letter to the paper Christine Crawley MEP wrote: ‘It is particularly used to intimidate those people who are active in voicing their anger and frustration at the troubles in Northern Ireland, and it creates an invisible line over which Irish people dare not step in the articulation of their concern. The problem for Irish people is that the position of the invisible line continually changes…The Act should be torn to shreds.’
On 10 January 1985 Gearoid McGearailt and Pat Reynolds met with the Irish Ambassador in London. They expressed IBRG concerns over the arrests and the fact that the Embassy would not provide any kind of legal support for those arrested under the Act, and would not even ask that the British government to inform them of every arrest under the Act.
Watch two films about the Maire O’Shea campaign here
After the meeting they put out a statement expressing the concern of the IBRG at the inability of the Irish government ‘to recognise the PTA as a racist weapon of repression used unjustly and indiscriminately against Irish citizens living in or visiting Britain’. The IBRG called on the Irish Government to demand that international practice be adhered to, and that the Irish Embassy be informed every time an Irish citizen is arrested under the Act. The IBRG asked Ambassador Dorr to attend a public meeting in the Irish community to hear the views of the Irish community on the use of the Act against them.
On 12 January 1985 the Irish Post ran an Editorial entitled “PTA Victims”. It started by stating that ‘The PTA is a despicable piece of legislation.” It ended by stating ‘Irish community organisation should in no way curtail their activities. Indeed, they should accelerate them. When this business has passed, the IBRG will emerge strengthened by recent events and from its mature and effective reaction to them’. Our community is beyond reproach, and in a law-abiding fashion throughout the past 15 years of violence emanating from N.Ireland, but it has suffered, both by ways of intimidation and at times harassment.’
On 12 January 1985, PRO Pat Reynolds went to the BBC studio in London to do an interview with RTE over the PTA. When he found that Seamus McGarry, of the Federation of Irish Societies, was on directly after him, hewaited in the studio to have a chat with McGarry after his interview. Pat was shocked to hear the interviewer from Dublin state over the line before the interview that the Irish Ambassador had asked RTE to put on Mr McGarry. Seamus went on to do the interview but sadly took the Irish Government line on the PTA, that they were faults with it and how it was used, but failed to call for its abolition.
Just as during the Hunger strikes, the Federation had again let down the Irish community, and betrayed them when a show of unity was required against the PTA. It also showed how the Irish Embassy was interfering with the lawful rights of the Irish community in Britain and supporting British oppression of the Irish community
On 13 January 1985 the Sunday Tribune in Dublin carried a full-page story on the operations of the PTA with headline “London Embassy is attacked for inaction over PTA arrests.” The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin had been forced for the first time to brief Irish journalists on the role of the Irish Embassy in London. The response was very defensive and did not address any of the concerns raised by IBRG.
The Embassy stated that their primary function was to safeguard the welfare of Irish citizens abroad, but failed to mention that the highest welfare is for a person wrongly arrested under racist laws. The paper reported that three of the arrested people were IBRG members: Peter Jordan, Peter Lynch and Dr Maire O’Shea, who were all member of the IBRG Prisoner Subcommittee, who had recently announced that they were setting up a public inquiry into the Birmingham Six case. The Ambassador stated that the recent PTA bill was better than the previous one. This was a most shocking statement for the Ambassador to make of such a racist piece of legislation which targeted the Irish community in Britain.
On 13 January 1985 (1) the IBRG Ard Choiste met at St Finbarr’s Club, Coventry where 20 members attended, as delegates or officers. This included: Jim King Chair, Judy Peddle Runai, John Martin, Joe Mullarkey, Alan Wallace, Pat Reynolds, Gearoid McGearailt, Fionbarra Cuillin, Nessan Danaher, Caitlin Wright, John Stanley, Seamus O Coileain, Denis Casey, Vincent Johnson, Pat Keane, Sean Cross, Martin Collins, Arthur Devlin and JP McCabe, Maurice Moore and Mick Burke from Coventry were observers and Mary Ann and Angela Lynch, daughters of the arrested man, Peter Lynch, attended part of the meeting.
The first part of the meeting was held as an emergency Ard Choiste on the PTA and the arrests with the main Ard Choiste held after lunch. The PRO outlined the situation to the meeting, with six arrests on Christmas Eve, of these two men were from Dublin, and Peter Jordan from Bristol were charged.
Peter Lynch and Pat Daly (Bristol) (later identified in the press as an MI5 agent) were arrested on New Year’s Eve with Peter Lynch charged and Pat Daly released. Maire O’Shea’s house was searched. She returned from Ireland on 9 January and was later arrested and charged. There were problems with the situation as it involved Christmas and the New Year.
Pat Reynolds, PRO, had completed a number of interviews with the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Press, BBC World Service and a Radio station in New York where he had argued against the PTA and called for its repeal. The meeting heard back from the meeting on the previous day where the Ambassador would only say the Irish government were concerned.
The Ard Choiste heard of IBRG plans to launch the campaign against the PTA at the Commons with Clare Short MP and Christine Crawley MEP on 22 January 1985. Caitlin Wright and her partner Rev David Wright had been to see Peter Lynch on remand. A defence campaign had been set up for Dr Maire O’Shea in Birmingham made up of IBRG, Troops Out, Trades Council and ASTMS, and there had been a picket of Birmingham police station. Pat Daly had been questioned over a firearms offense but had been released on police bail.
Gearoid brought a new PTA leaflet to the meeting which could be circulated widely and be used as a campaign leaflet. The meeting heard from the two daughters of Peter Lynch about the arrest and house search that went on. A fund was set up to help out the families of those arrested.
The Ard Choise agreed to arrange a delegation to Dublin within the month to raise the issue in Ireland. The Chair, PRO, Leas Runai, Caitlin and David Wright would go on the delegation.
The Ard Choiste main meeting heard from Nessan Danaher, Education Officer, who told the meeting he was planning a bigger and better Education Conference in February this year and that he had printed over 700 copies of the Conference report from last year which had all gone out. He had an article in the Times Educational Supplement last Friday on the conference.
The PRO informed the meeting that the new branch in Camden looked very promising and that new branches were planned for Hackney, Stratford and Brent. He informed the meeting that the CRE believed John Junor’s article in the Sunday Express to be a possible breach of the Race Relations Act, but they had no power to prosecute, and that the police or Attorney General would have to consider that.
He informed the meeting that a broad-based Irish community organisation had been set up in London to combat racism in the media and that branches should work with it. He had prepared a Media Monitoring leaflet which was going out to branches outlining actions to take over any offending article.
The Ard Choiste decided to hold at the Ard Fheis on 30th March 1985 in London.
On 14 January 1985 Maurice Hearne in the Irish Independent wrote a piece defending the Irish Ambassador who had been forced on the defensive. The piece was extremely one sided and unbalanced. It included a paragraph which stated ‘while the Act may have been operated unfairly in some cases against members of legitimate Irish organisations in Britain, it is fair to point out that the supporters of violence have been able to infiltrate those organisations and shelter behind their legitimacy’. It was very clear that the IBRG had the Irish Embassy and the Irish Government rattled and had put them on the defensive. The IBRG would challenge the Irish Ambassador on this dangerous false story.
Christine Crawley MEP, and IBRG member, took the PTA Campaign into the European Parliament with her motion which stated that ‘the European Parliament condemns the continued use of the PTA by the UK, expresses its deep concern at the erosion of civil liberties under the arbitrary use of the powers of the PTA, calls on the British Government to stop the renewal of the Act, and instructs its President to forward this resolution to the British Government, the Council of Ministers, the European Commission and the Secretary General of the United Nations”.
The preamble stated ‘having regard to the abuse of the UK PTA during the months of December 1984 and January 1985 in which several people have detained in Britain without access to any of the rights afforded to detainees under normal criminal law. The motion lost by only 11 votes. Mary Bonetti of Fine Gael representing the ruling class in Ireland presented her counter motion which stated “The European Parliament calls for an investigation of the recent assertions of harassment and infringement of human rights of Irish nationals resident in Great Britain under the PTA, and instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and to the governments of the Members sates.” This was passed.
Here you get the Dublin government coming to the rescue of their colonial masters and acting like a provincial government of a colony. Shame on them, and their support for the racist targeting of their own citizens by a colonial government.
The Labour and Ireland magazine in January 1985 covered the story with “New Terror Act Row Government uses law against Irish”. It stated: ‘The IBRG is active in supporting Irish prisoners in British jails, campaigning against anti-Irish racism in the media and in defence of the democratic rights of Irish people. The promotion of national pride by the IBRG runs directly against the silencing of the community engendered by the use of repressive legislation like the PTA, so it is no wonder that the use of the Act should come to be directed against organisations like the IBRG’. It quoted Roy Hattersley ‘Irish visitors feel threatened and harassed at the ports, and the whole community feels under constant suspicion’. Niall Andrews, Irish politician, stated ‘Nothing surprises me about the British police and Special branch and the paranoia they have about Irish people. They have the general feeling that every Irish person is a terrorist’.
City Limits in London stated: ‘this recent spate of arrest was targeted at the IBRG. This was formed four years ago and had attracted over 2,000 members. It aims to act as a social, cultural and welfare organisation for Irish people living here, but its members are not averse to speaking out and campaigning on political issues’.
On 19 January 1985 the Irish Post ran a headline “IBRG Campaign to Repeal PTA” which set out our planned House of Commons launch of the Campaign planned for 22 January 1985. On 19 January IBRG took part in an Irish day in Hackney east London which drew a huge crowd.
On 21 January 1985 the IBRG attended a meeting at Conway Hall on the case of Giuseppe Conlon’s case, one of the framed Irish prisoners.
On 21 January 1985 Manchester IBRG held a joint meeting with Labour and Ireland at Manchester Town Hall on the PTA at which Christine Crawley spoke.
On 23 January 1985 the Irish Times ran its headline “Terrorism Act repeal campaign launched” which reported on the launch of the campaign at the House of Commons. Jim King, Chair of IBRG, spoke and described the PTA as an iniquitous piece of legislation, and said the Irish community in Britain was overshadowed by fear because of it. Christine Crawley MEP said the campaign would be a disciplined nationally co-ordinated campaign in Britain designed to tear the Act to shreds. She mentioned her Resolution to the European Parliament had only failed by 11 votes but the Parliament had still voted for an inquiry into the PTA with a second Resolution by Mary Banotti of Fine Gael: Ms Crawley hoped the investigation by the European Parliament would be a very hard hitting one.
Clare Short MP stated that the PTA is seen as a measure ‘used to harass and intimidate Irish people and in a particular any Irish person who has the gall to become politically active”. Joan Maynard MP stated that the PTA had nothing absolutely to do with terrorism and everything to do with collecting information and intimidating the Irish community in Britain.
In January 1985 Richard Greenwood, English Rugby coach, had come out with a racist comment about the Irish rugby team needing a brain transplant. The Irish Press stated that the ‘remark betrays a state of mind which lies at the root of the anti-Irish joke, so offensive to our emigrants in Britain. That attitude is a throwback to the old days when Irishmen were depicted in Punch cartoons as ape like creatures, treats all Irish people a being of less intelligence than those of other races’, and ‘Anti Irish jokes are a different matter for the Irish living in post Brighton Britain, where the PTA and scribes like John Junor combine to create a hostile environment’, and ‘the prospects of Irish youngsters chasing scarce jobs in Britain are unlikely to be enhanced by this continued portrayal of the race of being less than bright, and Irish children at school in Britain face a similar ordeal’.
On 4 February 1985 Pat Reynolds gave a talk on the Irish community in Britain to sociology students at Goldsmiths College in south east London.
On 5 February 1985 a public meeting was held at County Hall London on strip searching where Ken Livingstone spoke and focussed on the cases of Martina Anderson and Ella O’ Dwyer in Brixton Prison. IBRG also had a speaker on the platform which was organised by Irish Prisoners Appeal who used the Lambeth IBRG office as their mailing address.
The debate on the PTA in Dail Eireann took place on 6 February 1985 with Fianna Fail putting a motion which condemned the PTA as a racist piece of legislation. Fianna Fail had spoken about the work of the IBRG during the debate. The motion was defeated by only 7 votes, as Fine Gael and shamefully Labour, brought forward their motion criticising some of the uses of the PTA, same as in the European parliament.
Within a month the IBRG had forced both the European Parliament and the Dail to consider the racist PTA and how it was being used to abuse the rights of Irish citizens living in or visiting Britain. It was a remarkable performance by an Irish community organisation in Britain to stand up and call out the PTA for what it was. It was the beginning of serious fight back by the community which would in the end force the British government to release the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, and the Maguire Seven.
Without this PTA fight none of this would have happened. It was the cutting sword of the IBRG that paved the way for future progress in the community by creating a safer environment for Irish people to come out and speak about these injustices.
On 8 February 1985 IBRG attended a Greater London Council meeting on Penal Institutions to ensure material on the rights of Irish prisoners was included e.g. strip searching and transfer of prisoners.
On 13 February 1985 the first meeting of Hackney IBRG took place at Centreprise Bookshop, it followed on from the successful one-day event which 80 people attended.
On 14 February 1985 an IBRG delegation went to Dublin to launch their PTA campaign directly to the Irish people. On the delegation were Jim King Chair, Gearoid McGearailt Leas Runai, Pat Reynolds PRO, along with David and Caitlin Wright.
Charlie Haughey was very impressed when he found what he thought was a Catholic priest on our delegation, but when Rev David Wright mentioned “my wife Caitlin here”, Haughey eyes rolled up to heaven. Haughey seemed to think that the IBRG were ahead of their time with a married catholic priest, but Martin Manseragh, his advisor, realised that David Wright was an Anglican priest.
The meeting with Haughey raised the question of the PTA and anti-Irish racism in Britain and the fact that semi-state bodies were still sponsoring these racist papers with advertising. Haughey agreed with us and promised help, apparently, he would be playing a round of golf with the top Aer Lingus man, and would raise the issue with him.
When Pat Reynolds raised with Haughey the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Maguire Seven, Haughey asked if IBRG thought they were all innocent, meaning all the republican prisoners, as well. The framed prisoners were not volunteers but innocent members of the Irish community who had been taken hostage by the British government as a warning to the Irish community.
The IBRG stated there was a difference between the framed prisoners and political prisoners who were volunteers, who got huge sentences and were not allowed to transfer nearer to home. Haughey promised to continue his opposition to the PTA should he get back into power. This did not fact happen as Fianna Fail failed to oppose the PTA when they came to power. The IBRG met Matt Merrigan , President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Tom Hartley Sinn Fein, and many others.
IBRG held a Press Conference at Buswells Hotel opposite the Dail which was well attended and got two interviews with RTE, and one with Caitlin Wright on Women’s Hour. The IBRG also met the National Union of Journalists in Dublin who were supportive on both the PTA and anti-Irish racism in the media.
In Manchester the IBRG announced that the Irish Line radio programme would be going weekly from 1 March 1985. It had started as a monthly show. The programme had recently interviewed Tony Lloyd M.P. who was also an IBRG member. The show had over 25,000 listeners each time and had being broadcast since December 1983.
On 15 February 1985 the Irish Times headline said ‘Emigrant group to meet Haughey on PTA’, and on 16 February a follow up “Fianna Fail talks to Group over Terror Act”.
On 16 February 1985 Nessan Danaher held his Second National Conference on Irish Dimensions in British Education at Soar Valley Leicester which over 200 people attended from all over Britain. This included Coventry, Liverpool, Hounslow, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Manchester, Stafford, Humberside, Nottingham, Burton On Trent, Loughborough, Leeds, Worchester, Sheffield, Bolton, Bradford, Rugby, York, London and many more places, from Universities, adult education, convents, colleges, secondary and primary schools, community organisations, cultural and youth groups.
Among the Universities present were Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, London, Sheffield, Birmingham and other institutes and Polytechnics. Among the speakers were Dr Philip Ullah , Dr Ita O’Donovan from Birmingham, Brid Keenan IBRG, Mary Hickman IBRG and Nessan Danaher IBRG. It was a huge success, and probably the largest gathering on Irish Education in Britain since the days of St Columba.
Mary Hickman looked at issues around identity and racism in education, Dr Philip Ullah talked of the psychological aspects of identity among second generation Irish, Brid Keenan on the areas of cultural production and reproduction in terms of the multi-cultural and anti-racist debate and the relevance of culture to the Irish in Britain and in Ireland. Dr Ita O’Donovan spoke of the concepts of ethnic identity and patterns of adjustments that immigrants will adopt in the host society, with reference to the first and second generation Irish, while Nessan Danaher looked at why the Irish community only lately sought official recognition within the education system and looked at some of these in Local Education Authorities and the Catholic Church system.
The Irish Post in writing up the conference with two double spreads of photos over two weeks stated ‘our community is moving onto a new level of discernment and professionalism. There is a cutting edge to it and much of it is being provided by the second generation. Five or ten years hence, we are going to be a very effective community.’ The paper also included a big spread on Nessan Danahers’s ten-week Irish studies course which had just finished in Leicester over 60 people attending.
On 21 February 1985 both the Irish Times and the Irish Independent carried a report of the IBRG press conference in Dublin listing our demands and included a list of the people we had met in Dublin.
On 22nd February 1985 Gearoid McGearailt and Pat Reynolds met with Peter Barry at the Irish Embassy over the issue of the PTA. The IBRG rejected Barry’s stated position that the Irish government had a ‘a gentleman’s agreement’ with the British government over an acceptable level of PTA arrests, and informed him that the Irish government had an international duty to protect their own citizens abroad and those visiting British, and to protect them from the racist and discriminatory PTA harassment. Seamus McGarry and John Fahey of the Federation of Irish Societies met Barry also at the Embassy and never even mentioned the PTA during their discussions with Barry. Barry in his Dail speech referred to 600,000 Irish citizens living in Britain, thus ignoring those from Northern Ireland who claimed the right to Irish citizenship, and the second generation Irish in Britain who also had the same rights.
On 23 February 1985 the Irish Post ran a major story entitled “Phantom interview with Ambassador” after the IBRG had raised their concerns about the story which stated that Irish organisations in Britain had been infiltrated by supporters of violence. The Irish Ambassador had denied ever giving Maurice Hearne of the Irish Independent any interview, after Hearne had stated in his article that the Ambassador ‘had assured him’ clearly giving the impression that he had talked directly with the Ambassador in the article of 14 January 1985.
While the IBRG after writing to the Ambassador for clarification on the matter, noted his response, it further noted that the Ambassador did not ask Mr Hearne son of a former Ambassador, or the Independent to withdraw the remarks, or indeed even write to the Irish Independent to correct the falsehood. It was the second time Dorr had come under fire over his alleged remarks. Earlier he was quoted as stating that ‘there will always be a British dimension in Ireland’ which Charlie Haughey took up in the Dail when he asked Dr Fitzgerald if this was now government policy. The Department of Foreign Affairs then claimed Dorr had been misquoted.
The IBRG drew attention in this case that the Ambassador was not asking the Irish Independent to withdraw their dangerous allegation about Irish community organisations in Britain. The Department of Foreign Affairs failed to act in this matter and Hearne never withdrew the remarks. The community was left with a view that he could have been briefed by the Embassy on the matter before he wrote the article, given the failure of Foreign Affairs to challenge him.
In the same issue of the Irish Post in the Letters page there were letters from the USA and Ireland saluting the Irish community in Britain for standing up to the racism of the British media and particularly to John Junor. From the USA ‘I applaud the young Irish in Britain standing up so proudly, not alone against invective but in articulating the shortcomings of eth Irish government and its agencies’ and ‘we here will stand and respond to the brave Irish in Britain on this issue and any other issue of its kind which may come up’. From Dublin the top letter stated ‘To the Irish in Britain, I say keep right on. An extraordinary number of people here are following with interest and pride your stand against the John Junior insult’ and so hold firm. The rapidly wising up Irish in Ireland are with you too’.
In an Irish Post Editorial of the same day under reassurance. It stated that: ‘The Irish in Britain are not for misinterpreting by the Donnybrook set’ and ‘Meanwhile it would seem essential that Irish organisations in Britain with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs insist on Maurice Hearne withdrawing his scandalous allegation of 14th January 1985.
On 23 February 1985 the Irish Post headline “IBRG and Haughey in fruitful talks” gave a report of the successful IBRG delegation to Dublin. Haughey had promised IBRG that when returned to office Fianna Fail will take whatever steps can be considered reasonable in support of the Irish community in Britain, and also promised that when back in government they would maintain their opposition to the PTA
On 23 February 1985(2) The IBRG Ard Choiste met at the Irish Club in Liverpool when 18 officers and branch delegates attended including Jim King Chair, Judy Peddle Runai, John Martin, Joe Mullarkey, Pat Reynolds, Caitlin Wright, Gearoid McGearailt, Finonbarra O Cuillin, Michael O Cnaimhsi, Seamus O Coileain, Maurice Moore, Arthur Devlin, and Maire O’Shea.
Two daughters of Peter Lynch attended part of the meeting to talk about their father in prison. Dr Maire O’Shea, who was now out on bail, attended the meeting and talked about the campaign, and spoke about a national meeting in Birmingham on the cases on 16 March 1985.
The meeting heard a report back on the launch of the PTA campaign in the House of Commons which had been successful, and had been covered in the Irish and British national press along with Irish weeklies like the Irish Post.
It was agreed to hold a one-day conference on the PTA in the autumn of 1985. It was noted that the Federation were now contrary to their own policy going along with Fine Gael and the Irish government, by claiming the PTA was not that bad and splitting the community voice.
IBRG agreed to lobby the House of Commons before the PTA renewal debate on 6 March 1985.
The meeting got feedback from the meeting the day before with Peter Barry at the Irish Embassy by Gearoid McGearailt and Pat Reynolds. All Barry would say on the PTA was that the Irish government had “a gentleman’s agreement” with the British government over the PTA, while the IBRG made it very clear to him that this was worthless and not acceptable. The meeting heard that members of the Irish Campaign against Racism in the Media (ICARM) had visited John Junor at his home address on a Sunday morning to protest at his violent racism towards the Irish, and it seemed to shake up him up a bit.
The meeting heard of the huge success of Nessan Danaher’s Education Conference in Leicester from members who attended. The meeting congratulated Nessan for both his hard work and his successful conference.
The Ard Choiste set the 23 March 1985 for the Ard Fheis in London.
The meeting heard of the delegation to Dublin which had met Charlie Haughey, Brian Lenihan, Michael D Higgins (future President), Tomas MacGiolla, Fine Gael TD’s, Enda Kenny (future Taoiseach) Sinn Fein, Ruari Quinn, Neil Blaney, Tony Gregory, Dean Griffin, the Bishops Commission, Sean Redmond, Mary Harney and others. They had 17 meetings and held a press conference.
On 26 February 1985 IBRG members attended a large meeting at the Camden Irish Centre on the PTA where Gareth Pierce spoke. Pat Daly spoke to the meeting from the floor about his recent experiences under the PTA. (Daly was later to be found out as a MI5 agent within the IBRG and later the IRSP/INLA.) It was noted that Daly left the meeting early on his own.
On 26 February 1985 the Irish Press covered the IBRG condemnation of British MP Joe Ashton in ‘Condom remarks Racist”. Writing in the Daily Star the Labour Party MP made great a fun of the Irish whom he called “thick Micks and Paddies” in the article.
IBRG PRO Pat Reynolds stated: ‘The time has come for this type of stereotyping and propaganda and abuse to stop. Instead of these stupid and ignorant insults Mr Aston should be trying to help his constituents understand what Britain is doing in N. Ireland. The offending articlewas entitled “French Letters They’re all Greek to Paddy” in response to a Family Planning bill in Dail Eireann.
Liz Curtis from the Campaign for Free Speech on Ireland described the right-wing MP as “horrible macho imperialist pig, his remarks were nasty unpleasant and supercilious This piece of work illustrates the ignorance and condescending attitude of right-wing Labour MP’s. They can’t do anything positive about the situation in Ireland’.
On 2 March 1985 the Irish Post headline “IBRG strengthens Fianna Fail links” which described the meeting with Fianna Fail and other political parties in Dublin. The article quoted the IBRG statement issued after the IBRG London meeting with Peter Barry ‘We registered a strong protest on the Irish government’s stance of the PTA and its unwillingness to condemn and call for the repeal of this un reformable piece of legislation. We expressed our disapproval of the inference of an acceptable level of PTA arrests in Peter Barry’s recent Dail statement on the act, and we criticised the restrictive parameters placed by the Irish government, on the Irish Embassy’s ability to represent adequately the needs of PTA detainees. It was conveyed to the Minister that the IBRG considers as inadequate the Dublin’s reliance on the goodwill of the British government or a gentleman’s agreement on the PTA and we urged that, according to international practise the Irish Embassy should be informed every time an Irish citizen is arrested under the act. Our organisation is gravely concerned that the vast majority of these arrested under the Act receive no help because the Embassy is never informed of their arrest, and that they are prevented from contacting their Embassy. Peter Barry was asked that the Department of Foreign Affairs issues a statement on the dangerous allegations made by the Irish Independent writer Hearne on Irish community organisations in Britain.”
On 15 March Pat Reynolds was one of the main organisers of a very successful Irish Bookfair held at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank with the help of the GLC. Neil Kinnock turned up at the Bookfair as Leader of the Labour Party. The Fair sold over £10k worth of Irish books and Green Ink got a further order from Haringey libraries for £3k..
On 16 March 1985 Lambeth IBRG held a successful St Patrick’s night event in Norwood, South London. Lambeth IBRG also announced the opening of an IBRG welfare project with two workers in Brixton following funding from the GLC.
On 16 March 1985 the Irish Post headline was “Islington IBRG put pressure on.” The story was about a meeting of Islington Social Services on 19 March 1985 which was due to hear a commissioned report on the Irish community in Islington. The report showed that the Irish were seriously under represented among social services staff.
IBRG wanted the needs of Irish elders in the borough taken on and wanted a drop-in centre and a luncheon club for them. It was wrongly assumed that the Catholic Church looked after the Irish when in fact the Catholic Church did nothing for the Irish, and in any case many Irish people had moved away from the church or were not members.
On 23 March 1985(3) the IBRG held their Ard Fheis at Brent Town Hall, Wembley. With the following officers present Jim King, Seamus Carey, John Martin, Pat Reynolds, Judy Peddle, Gearoid MacGearailt, Caitlin Wright, Fionbarra O Cuillin Nessan Danaher, Alan Wallace and Michael Cnaimhsi. Delegates were present from Coventry, Cardiff, Leeds, Bolton, Haringey, Islington, Harrow, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Southwark, NE Lancs, Wigan, Birmingham Brent and Lewisham some 16 branches.
The following Officers were elected
Chair Jim King Manchester
Vice Chair Geraroid MacGearailt Lambeth
President Maire O Shea Birmingham
Vice Presidents Joe Mullarkey Bolton and Peter Lynch Birmingham
Runai Judy Peddle Cardiff
Leas runai Colm O Floinn Lambeth
PRO Pat Reynolds Islington
Internal Co-ordinal Caitlin Wright Bolton
Cisteoir Alan Wallace Leeds
Education officer Nessan Danaher Leicester
Membership Marie Wynee Haringey
Youth Officer John Doyle Haringey.
The following motions were passed by the Ard Fheis.
To set up a Women’s Committee
To elect a Trade Union liaison officer
To create a PTA bust card
An end to strip searching in Armagh and affiliate to the Stop the Strip Search campaign
Condemn Section 31 and called for its Repeal.
That the RUC and UDR be disbanded as a part of a prerequisite to withdrawal and add to Northern Ireland Policy
That the Prisoner’s Sub-Committee Campaign for the release of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and Maguire Seven
That IBRG work with other groups to oppose the new British police bill
Condemned the recent arrest of IBRG members and called for the charges to be dropped and for an inquiry into their arrest.
Condemn David Owen for rescinding the SDP conference decision to ban plastic bullets.
To congratulate workers at Dunnes Stores in Dublin for their actions against selling South African produce.
Calls for a sustained campaign against the PTA in all branches, including holding public meetings collecting petitions, leaflets, posters, conferences etc
Support the creation of preschool language nurseries
Jim King, elected as Chair for his third term, criticised Irish Foreign Minister Peter Barry for ignoring that part of Ireland which was occupied against the wishes of the majority of the Irish people. He said there was a renewed sense of national pride among the Irish in Britain and that the IBRG had contributed greatly to this. He deplored the recent arrests under the PTA and the attitude of the Dublin government and said that our work on the PTA and for a united sovereign Ireland must continue unabated.
On 30 March 1985 the Irish Post reported that IBRG acted as catalyst in its report of the IBRG Ard Fheis at Brent Town Hall. Jim King was reported saying: ’There is a new mood of assertiveness and the IBRG has acted as a catalyst demonstrating that the heads down approach is unproductive and unnecessary. The IBRG has made an immense contribution to the renaissance of all things Irish in Britain which we are now enjoying’
In 28 March 1985 Pat Reynolds spoke with Jo Richardson MP at a public meeting on Strip Searching in Newham.
A conference in Newham entitled Racism and the Irish Community was organised by the Stratford Irish Community Association in East London in early April at which Gearoid McGearailt IBRG and Brid Ni Chainin IBRG spoke at.
The Conference passed a resolution condemning Bord Failte and Aer Lingus for refusing to give assurances that they would discontinue advertising in the Express newspapers including the Evening Standard, because of these paper’s anti- Irishness. The GLC exhibition the Invisible Irish was on show at the Conference.
On 20 April 1985 the Irish Post reported on “Significant victory in Wigan” where the chair of the Wigan IBRG branch, Michael Gallagher, standing as a Labour candidate, had beaten the Tories in a Council by election. In the campaign the Tory leaflet suggested that voters should ask Michael Gallagher if he were a supporter of the IRA. He immediately issued a writ for libel claiming damages and was granted an injunction in the High Court in Manchester restraining the Tories from such slanders. The Tories were also required to publish and distribute to every household an apology to Michael Gallagher and withdraw the inferences made against him.
On 13 April 1985 IBRG along with ICARM (Irish Campaign against Racism in the Media) picketed the offices of Bord Failte and Aer Lingus in central London.
On 20 April 1985 IBRG members attended a GLC Conference on the PTA at the Camden Centre. Over 100 people attended the Conference.
Dr Maire O’Shea, IBRG, spoke on her arrest and detention and on the other prisoners arrested. Dr O’Shea stated: ‘The PTA is a kind of terrorism in itself, it hasn’t stopped terrorism in this country. It has separated families and friends and has caused anguish to people closest to those arrested’.
Gearoid MacGearailt gave a wide-ranging speech setting out the background to the Irish community in Britain in housing, health and employment, and stated: ‘the PTA is institutional racism. Its purpose is to intimidate and to stifle lawful and legitimate political activity. He also led one of the workshops.
Both of these detailed speeches and others are available in the GLC document Consultative Conference on the effect of the workings of the PTA upon London’s Irish community published later in 1986.
On 21 April 1985(4) the IBRG Ard Choiste met at the Crown Pub in Bristol at which the following attended Gearoid MacGearailt Chair for the day, Maire O’Shea, Judy Peddle, Colm O Floinn, Marie Wynne, John Doyle, Denis Casey, Pat Keane, Seamus O’Colileain, Enda McCarthy, Mairin Higgins and Jim McCarthy.
The Ard Choiste heard that Haringey IBRG had set up a Prisoners support group to work with non-political prisoners and had recently a meeting with Sister Sarah Clarke who worked with Irish prisoners in Britain.
On 24 April 1985 Pat Reynolds was the speaker on the PTA motion at Brent Nalgo AGM at Brent Town Hall which carried the motion condemning the PTA.
On 25 April 1985 Pat Reynolds was speaking at an Irish Awareness day for staff in Islington Council.
A support group for Maire O’Shea was set up in Manchester and on 27 April a meeting was held in the Town Hall basement to launch the campaign.
In May 1985 the Press council ruled against John Junor and the Sunday Express over his anti-Irish racist remarks. The complaint was brought by Luke Kearns of Bradford IBRG and Damien Price of Green Ink with Pat Reynolds assisting him. The Irish Post would claim that this was its greatest victory in some 15 years history while ignoring the role IBRG had played in it.
On 11 May 1985 the Irish Post reported that Michael O’Cnaimhsi and IBRG in Blackburn had got a local store not to sell Punch magazine as it had contained anti Irish material. John Stanley, from Leeds IBRG, in the same issue drew attention to W.H. Smith’s who were selling the Official Irish Joke Book which was full of racist jokes and stereotypes.
The complaint was sent to Smiths in London who replied; ‘Were we to withdraw the Irish joke book the effect would be to draw a lot more attention to them with the result that more would be bought’.
One IBRG member in London also protested by filling a trolley full of books, which after they had put them through the till, just happened to come across this Irish joke book, and was so offended, that he cancelled his entire large order and walked out.
Donal Kennedy in the same issue remarked on Joe Ashton’s claim that it was an Irishman’s ability to take a joke that stopped the English from automatically thinking him connected with the IRA. Amazingly Ashton seemed never to have heard of Brendan Behan, Frank O’Connor and Sean O Faoilean.
On 12 May 1985 Jim King, Gearoid MacGearailt and Pat Reynolds met Jim Delaney of the Irish American Unity Conference at London airport to discuss join community interests. IBRG got invited to come to America late that year for their conference in Washington DC.
On 14 May 1985 IBRG members picketed the George Robey Pub in Finsbury Park North London over Frank Carson’s appearance there. Ironically the Gaelic football team South and O’Hanlon’s used to use that pub as their HQ in the 1970’s.
On 15 May 1985 IBRG met with Alf Lomas MEP and Father Bobby Gilmore, head of the Irish Chaplaincy, over anti Irish racism and Sean Sexton’s amazing media campaign which called for more Irish representation in the media.
In May 1985 Green Ink were awarded £33,000 to set up an Irish bookshop in North London including subsidising the difference between sales and salaries.
In May the Federation withdrew from the NCCL research on the PTA which led to a huge storm. The Federation wanted total control of the project while the NCCL wanted to keep the research independent. The Federation were caught out over their position on the PTA where they sided with Fine Gael against their own community in Britain to their great shame, following on from their eternal shame of their stance during the Hunger Strikes.
On 23 May 1985 Clare Short and IBRG were honoured by the Massachusetts House of Representatives for her works on Irish self-determination for the Irish in Britain. The citation mentioned the work of the IBRG to quote: “Whereas the committed Ms Short has participated in meetings and conferences with members of the Labour Party , which would put forth a platform for British withdrawal and unity and independence, and has discussed with the Irish in Britain Representation Group, which works on behalf of Irish people living in England, who are subjected to continuous detention and imprisonment, and denial of human and civil rights by the British government’.
Here we see IBRG making an impact from the European parliament to the Dail to the USA and to the British House of Commons within a few months, raising the question of the civil liberties of the Irish community in Britain. The document was signed by Marie Howe and signed by the Speaker in Boston where Clare Short MP was given a special reception along with a Press conference to highlight her visit her campaign on Ireland and the Irish in Britain.
On May 1985 the radical Dublin Magazine Phoenix outlined the growth of the IBRG and the Embassy attempts to curb the new militancy of the IBRG and the Irish in Britain. It praised Brendan MacLua, editor of the Irish Post, who refused to play ball with the Embassy. It seemed that being on the Embassy guest list meant nothing to IBRG who boycotted these events, given the failure of the Embassy to protect Irish citizens in Britain. The Irish in Britain were no longer for sale for the sake for cheap wine at the Irish Embassy.
In 18 May 1985 the Irish Post covered the story where the London Irish Festival at Roundwood Park had refused IBRG a stall at the park because the IBRG would display political materials.
Pat Reynolds IBRG stated: ‘the conditions they wish to place upon us having stand would require us to deny our nationality, and betray those who are being killed by plastic bullets, humiliated by strip-searching and harassed under the PTA. The organisers blamed the GLA and Brent Council for their stance. IBRG finds it incredible that either body would indulge in such political censorship as a prerequisite to allowing a charity day’.
The organisers tried to blame the GLC and Brent Council for this imaginary ban, yet could produce no evidence of any such condition. Ironically Pat Reynolds worked for Brent Council and knew this claim by the organiser to be nonsense as his colleagues at the Council provided the facilities for the festival. Later they would even ban the Birmingham Six from having a stall, clearly not even recognising welfare issues and supporting British extreme censorship on their own community.
On 1 June 1985 IBRG members in London attended the GLC conference on Policing the Black and Irish Communities.
On 9 June 1985 (5) the IBRG Ard Choiste met at the Unemployed Centre in Birmingham with 19 officers and delegates attended including Jim King Chair, Judy Peddle Runai, Maire O‘Shea, Gearoid MacGearailt, Joe Mullarkey, Pat Reynolds, Alan Wallace, Marie Wynee, Caitlin Wright, Nessan Danagher, Maurice Moore, Seamus O Coileain, Mairin Higgins Arthur Delvin and David Wright.
The meeting heard that a new IBRG branch had been set up in Strathclyde. Gearoid McGearailt was working on setting up a new branch in Lewisham. The meeting agreed to give £150 towards Nessan Danaher producing 1,000 copies of his 1985 Education Conference report.
On 15 June 1985 the Irish Post covered Islington IBRG story “No to Islington deplorable” where the Department of the Environment had turned down Islington council application to fund a local Irish centre.
The Department stated; ‘It is considered that there is no justification for treating the Irish as an ethnic minority, and therefore no reason why they should not use facilities provided for the population generally’. The IBRG stated that this decision was discriminatory, political, and racist as the Irish were clearly a racial group under the terms of the Race Relations Act, and the House of Lords judgement on this matter.
The decision would effectively block the Irish community from any central government funding. Brent Irish Advisory Service had also been refused funding and John Ryan, Labour councillor in Brent, stated: ‘the Tories are opposed to the funding of any Irish project. I would go further and say that they are opposed to the very concept of there being an organised Irish community in Britain which endeavours to promote its own culture and sense of identity’.
On 22 June 1985 IBRG members in London attended a GLC Homelessness Conference to ensure an Irish dimension was included as the Irish suffered much from being homeless.
On 26th June 1985 Dr Maire O’Shea spoke at the Red Rose club Islington at a public meeting with Jeremy Corbyn MP and Chris Smith MP.
There was a row in June 1985 when the letters pages of the Irish Post were filled with criticism of the Federation and their manner of withdrawing from the NCCL research into the PTA, because the Federation wanted total control of the project despite their own confused position on the PTA, which was aligned to the Fine Gael position on the PTA. The GLC responded in the Post to say they had every faith in the NCCL, despite the criticism of John Fahy, PRO of the Federation, who had attacked both the GLC and the IBRG for no reason.
On 28 June 1985 Pat Reynolds PRO issued a press release in response to several arrest of Irish workers in seaside towns in Britain. It stated: ‘The IBRG condemns the continuing harassment of the Irish community under the racist PTA laws, and the abuse of the civil and legal rights of Irish citizens in Britain. A coach and horses has been driven through the sub judice laws in Britain by the police media and politicians on the last week, what chance has any Irish person getting a fair trial in Britain with the current whipped up hysteria, if you are Irish, it sems you are guilty once you are arrested, and that you have no rights under the law, to be afforded ordinary civil liberties, and the right to a fair hearing. The IBRG condemn the racist selective targeting of Irish workers in sea side towns, and demand that this racist witch-hunt is called off, and condemn the use of conspiracy charges against member of our community. The PTA main objective is the political policing of the legitimate political activity of the Irish community in Britain’.
On 1 July 1985 Dr. Maire O’Shea addressed a large public meeting at the Cricklewood Hotel in West London along with Ken Livingstone on the PTA.
On 6 July 1985 PRO Pat Reynolds had a letter in the Irish Post ‘Independent research vital in bid to repeal PTA’ in which he took John Fahy PRO of the Federation to task for his attack on the IBRG, NCCL and the GLC over the PTA research project, from which they had withdrawn.
He stated: ‘the position of the IBRG in this matter is quite clear. We had urged the GLC to provide funding for such a project and when the NCCL began their research we offered them our full support. Last year we met with the NCCl to convey our particular concerns about the PTA, and how it affects the Irish community. As an independent organisation ourselves, we respect the independence of the NCCL and regard independent research to be vital to accompany any campaign seeking the repeat of the PTA We have no reason to change our support for the NCCL’s research, nor have we found any sustainable evidence to indicate that this research is not in the interest of our community. For John Fahy to refer cynically to ‘platforms’ is insulting to any organisation which campaign on the PTA issue. It is also insulting to the thousands of Irish people held under that vile legislation. The Irish in Britain are a politically aware people and from its founding, the IBRG has been open and honest in its work in education, research, politics, culture, media and welfare. We urge the Irish community throughout Britain and especially the young to join with the IBRG in its fight to have the PTA abolished, and also to participate with us in our various activities which give expression to Irish life in Britain’.
The Federation were closely aligned with the Irish Embassy, being used as their mouth piece in the PTA debate, and were closely aligned with the Fine Gael government’s stance on the PTA, and failed to call for its abolition.
On 14 July 1985 (6) the IBRG Ard Choiste met at the Unemployed Centre in Birmingham. 16 officers and delegates attended with Doris Daly from Islington attending part of the meeting. The following were present Jim King Chair, Judy Peddle Runai, Maire O’Shea, Gearoid MacGearailit, Joe Mullarkey, Colm O’Floinn, Marie Wynee, Nessan Danagher, Caitlin Wright, John Doyle, Sean Cross, Maurice Moore, Eddie Whyte, Michael O Cnaimhsi and David Wright along with Elizabeth and Maura Cassidy from Coventry.
The Ard Choiste decided that the Comhcomhairle should be held in Birmingham on 26 October 1985. Haringey IBRG were planning a local public meeting on the PTA in September. The meeting had a long discussion on the PTA campaign.
On 23 July 1985 a meeting was held at Peckham Town Hall to restart Southwark IBRG and on 24 July a similar meeting took place in Brent to restart Brent IBRG. On 28 July 1985 there was a GLC Race Awareness day where Pat Reynolds chaired the Irish workshop.
In Leeds over 100 people turned up to launch the Anti PTA campaign which Alan Wallace chaired. Dr Maire O’Shea was unable to make it as her car broke down. Councillor Sheena Clarke gave the meeting a graphic description of her recent detention under the PTA at Manchester Airport on her return from a housing conference in Belfast where she was questioned for 55 minutes. She stated ‘I got the impression that if you favour a united Ireland, you risk being labelled a terrorist subversive and somebody, whom they are entitled to pick up and harass.’ She describes it as being one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had. And ‘what happened to me happens to thousands of people travelling backwards and forwards between Britain and Ireland’.
In July 1985 Manchester City Council recognised the Irish community, the first local authority outside of the GLC and Islington to do so. The IBRG had made a major submission to Manchester City Council and lobbied for the recognition. The report had dealt with housing, social services, culture and education. The report also dealt with anti-Irish racism, the effects of the PTA and N. Ireland upon the local Irish community.
Jim King IBRG chair welcomed this development as fit and proper, and stated ‘The IBRG in Manchester has put a lot of work into winning this recognition and the results should be of considerable long-term benefits to the local Irish community’. Two Irish representatives could now sit on Manchester City Council’s Race Committee. The same weekend Manchester Labour Party held a Conference on Ireland at the Town hall.
Ruari Quinn, the Irish Minister for Labour, had a letter in the Irish Post defending giving votes to British citizens in Ireland that nobody had asked for, nor was there any lobby for this. Yet, Irish citizens in Britain were denied a vote in Ireland despite strong voices that they be given the vote.
Quinn talk of the enfranchisement of EEC citizens in a reciprocal basis was nonsense as he ignored the fact that British citizens living abroad, like the vast majority of other European citizens living abroad, retain the vote in their country, this was denied to the Irish abroad in a very discriminatory way. There was no evidence whatsoever that British citizens living in Ireland suffered any discrimination whatsoever, unlike the Irish in Britain, who were daily subjected to anti Irish vile in the British media, and had the racist PTA laws to deal with, and were disadvantaged in housing health and employment.
Gearoid McGearailt took Ruari Quin to task in a detailed response in the Irish Post, and showed how the Irish government had ignored the needs of its own citizens abroad on the PTA on travel conditions, Northern Ireland, transfer of prisoners, on the framed prisoners such as the Birmingham Six, Guildford and Maguire Seven. He pointed out that the amount given to Irish welfare in Britain by the Dublin government amounted to the cost of running one ministerial car in the government. The policy of the Irish government had always been that once you leave Ireland, you are no longer the responsibility of the Irish government who will do as little for you as they can get away with.
On 30 July 1985 the BBC, after pressure from Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, banned the television programme At the Edge of the Union because it included a speech by Martin McGuiness. Two weeks later Thatcher stated that that the Republican movement should be starved of the oxygen of publicity. (Make your own mind up about the programme here)
At the beginning of August 1985, the IBRG took on the Daily Star over a ‘pig in the kitchen’ article in reference to Ireland. On 2 August 1985 the Evening Press Dublin front page story headline was ‘Star brings Irish pigs’ line into the parlour’. The headline in the Daily Star article was ‘bejasus, your clever swine’ telling some fake story about an English tourist in Ireland taking tea in a remote cottage in the West of Ireland, being surprised when a pig wanders into the kitchen.
Earlier in the same paper Joe Ashton, the racist anti Irish labour MP, had another racist article denigrating the Irish. The Irish Independent ran the story ‘Another of Fleet Street’s rasher pieces. Pat Reynolds told the newspaper ‘It is part of an insidious campaign of anti-Irish bigotry with the article stating ‘In Ireland the kitchen is often shared by all sorts of friendly livestock’.
Within days the Daily Star was running another anti Irish story with a story entitled ‘the Blarney Clone’ in which it referred to the Irish ‘using a shocking new system to improve the pedigree of their stock. The genetic characteristics of both partners are fed into the computer, mating takes place and hey presto a new Irish master breed is born.’ Only in the last sentence of the article does it indicate that this is for Irish livestock on the farm.
On 3 August 1985 the Irish Post had the headline ‘Press Council No to IBRG complaint’. The story stated that the British Press Council – which had a notorious reputation of protecting newspapers rather than the public – had rejected an IBRG complaint about the racist anti Irish MP Joe Ashton article in the Daily Star on 25th February 1985.
The Press Council letter stated: ‘the complaints committee of the Press Council; sitting under the chair Sir Zelman Cowen has carefully considered your complaint against the Daily Star. After taking full account of your comments the committee decided that you had failed to establish a case warranting adjudication by the Council’. The wording of the complaint was that the Star had ‘published an article which was racist and insulting to Irish people portraying them as ignorant and backward, and neither the editor nor the author was willing to acknowledge their distortion’. The PRO stated in reply ‘recently Fleet Street newspapers have driven a coach and horses through the subjudice laws and acted as judge and jury over Irish people arrested under the PTA. What Standards is the Press Council defending. Its failure to take up this complaint shows it to be as much part of the problem as some Fleet St newspapers. We call for an end to the Press Council’s collusion with Fleet st in abusing the Irish community.’
The Evening Herald in Dublin on 2 August 1985 covered this story with ‘Insult claim is lost’ which covered the IBRG statement in full.
On 3 August 1985 the Irish Post ran the story ‘Breakthrough by IBRG in Lambeth’. The article stated that ‘The Lambeth branch of IBRG in south London has achieved a major breakthrough in having the local Borough Council accept its seven-point plan for assisting the Irish community. The detailed plan covers a wide range of services and extends to the local Irish community special treatment in areas of welfare, housing and cultural needs as well as a recognition that the Irish have been victims of racism and discrimination.
Ted Knight leader of Lambeth Council and the majority Labour group had met IBRG and agreed to progress the proposals. Lambeth now had an Irish welfare project with two workers funded by the GLC the deal also included Lambeth declaring itself an PTA free zone and recognising the PTA as racist. Here Lambeth was following the GLC, Islington and Manchester City Council in recognising the Irish.
On 8 August Pat Reynolds and other IBRG members joined the Troops Out delegation to Belfast where for the first time the IBRG took part in the Anti Internment March in Belfast where the crowd gave us a huge reception, as the Anderstown News regularly were covering IBRG activity in Britain. It was important to the community in Belfast that the Irish in Britain were standing with them, and sending out a clear message they were not alone.
On 10 August 1985 the Irish Post headline had ‘Storm over ‘pigs in kitchen’ story. IBRG PRO Pat Reynolds responded by stating ‘The Press Council’s unwillingness to reprimand racist newspapers gives publications like the Star a licence to print such vile material. The Star the Sun and the Daily Express seem to have a fixation with pigs and piggeries. Its time they came out to breathe the fresh air of truth and reality. Their anti-Irish propaganda stinks and speaks volumes about their colonial mentality towards the Irish. We reject their racist definitions and rejoice in our Irishness’.
On 10 August 1985 Manchester IBRG had a letter in the Irish Post setting out their differences with BBC Radio Manchester over their Irish line programme. In it Eileen Murphy, Declan O’Neill, Tony Farrell and Peter Ledwith gave a full history of the programme, and how they had been thrown off the programme by the BBC management in Manchester. The programme was targeted after the arrests of Dr Maire O’Shea and others when they had interviewed over time Peter Barry, Ken Livingstone, Jim King, and Father Raymond Murray over the Birmingham Six.
The BBC started to cut out any reference to the IBRG being associated with the programme and then started to censor interviews. The final straw was when the BBC cut an interview with Bernadette Hyland of IBRG who had been a recent delegate on the International Woman’s day delegation to Armagh with the interview focusing on strip searching. The delegation also included Women Against Pit Closures, Labour Women and Ireland, Women Trade unionists. (Read full story here)
It was another example of the BBC censoring anything to do with Ireland or the conflict or even innocent Irish prisoners in Britain. Later the BBC were to ban Shane McGowan’s song about the Birmingham Six.
On 17 August 1985 the Irish Post reported that ‘Haringey showing of banned BBC programme ’ called “At the Edge of the Union” which Haringey council put on a public showing on 19th August 1985 with speaker on censorship on Ireland.
Steve King, Deputy Leader of Haringey, stated ‘We believe that the people of Haringey are quite capable of making up their own minds about the situation in Ireland. We don’t need the government to decide what views we are to hear. This council is committed to defend the right of local people against all attempt by government to take on the role of Big Brother’.
The Irish Post further reported than over 70 people including Jeremy Corbyn MP attended the IBRG picket of the BBC HQ in London at Portland Place to protest over their banning of the programme on Northern Ireland. Pat Reynolds had helped to organise the picket.
The IBRG stated: ‘We condemn years of silence and self-censorship ion Ireland by the BBC and the British media. This media had never been impartial on Ireland. It supports and promotes British interference in Ireland without question, and suppress and censors any challenge to that position. The IBRG especially condemn the cancelation of the program at the Edge of the Union and deplores the hypocrisy of this governments talk of democracy, while it suppresses the views of democratically elected representative of the Irish people’.
Haringey Council was led by Bernie Grant, the first Black leader of a Local Authority in modern times. (Many forget that that John Archer who was Black and Irish was the Mayor of Battersea back in 1913.) The film, “Edge of the Union” was shown at Haringey Civic Centre.
On 7 August a national one day strike was called by the NUJ following the decision by the BBC Board of Governors to ban the Real Lives documentary on Northern Ireland “At the Edge of the Union”. In Manchester at UMIST the Manchester Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and the local NUJ branch organised a meeting about the censorship of the documentary. Bernadette Hyland of Bolton IBRG spoke from the floor about censorship and the Irish community relating to the BBC’s closure of their radio programme “Irish Line”.
On 21 August 1985 Pat Reynolds IBRG was the speaker at Brent Nalgo Irish Workers Group, the first of its kind in the country. Pat was working with Brent council at the time running their Community Home with Education (CHE), and was also a founding member of the group.
Later John Tymon, a member of the group, would become Brent Branch secretary, and later the group became part of the National Nalgo Irish Workers Groups with a view, to get motions to National conference and supporting the Irish community locally.
In 1986 ten of the group took St Patricks Day off work to organise a St Patrick’s day celebration in Brent for the Irish community at the Brent Irish centre. The council who threatened to dock the pay of the 10 workers backed down, and the following year Brent Council took over the running of the festival which had continued to run to this day.
On 24 August 1985 the Irish Post reported on ‘Leeds Irish centre and IBRG clash’ where Leeds IBRG accused the Leeds Irish Centre of discriminating against it, and refusing to allow the IBRG to put on Irish language classes at the centre. Leeds IBRG had also asked the centre to hold a cultural evening with Donall MacAmhlaigh the Irish writer to speak but were refused. The local Polish Centre then had to help out IBRG. It was a shocking story on ongoing discrimination against both the IBRG and members of their own community by the Centre and the suppression of Irish culture in Leeds.
On 24 August 1985 the Irish Post covered a story ‘Bolton Irish join the Festival’. It highlighted the Bolton Irish Festival 24-31 August 1985 which included a concert, an Irish traditional music workshop and an Irish crafts display including stalls with Irish goods for sale plus Irish dancing on the streets.
On 31 August 1985 the Irish Post covered the story ’Too few Irish council officers’ in reference to Islington Council in North London. The Irish community make up some 11% of the local population yet only 5.2% of the non-manual workforce. The study had been carried out by the Council’s own Personnel department. Of the 181 employed at officer level only two were senior managers out of 83 such senior positions. The council came up with various excuses as to why the Irish figure was low, claiming that some Irish may not identify as being Irish, despite there being no evidence of this. For example, if only two senior officers identified as Irish, they would know if there was more of them
IBRG stated: ‘the truth of the matter is that Irish ability is being overlooked by Islington council. There is no positive policy of recruiting Irish people to ensure that they are proportionate to their number in the borough, represented among the council’s officer workforce.’
The Irish were often kept in the low paid manual type jobs, in 1970 over 50% of Irish males worked in construction whereas the figure in Ireland was about 15%. Irish women worked in the local hospitals but in local authorities tended to have manual type jobs as dinner women or home helps which paid poorly.
On 3 September 1985 Tom King became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Maire O’Shea had been a member of the Connolly Association and its newspaper the “Irish Democrat” covered the campaign.
On 6 September 1985 a new IBRG branch was set up in Wigan.
The IBRG Ard Choiste took place on 7th September 1985 (7) at St Lawrence Hall, Manchester. 14 officers and delegates attended including Jim King chair, Judy Peddle Runai, Michael O’Cnaimhsi Pat Reynolds Marie Wynee, Eddie Whyte, Gearoid MacGearailt, Caitlin Wright Joe Mullarkey, Alan Wallace, Maurice Moore, Sean Cross, Anthony McFarrell, Maire O’Shea and Paul O’Brien.
The meeting agreed to send delegates to the American Irish Unity Conference from 31 October -2 November 1985 in Washington DC, and that Jim King Chair and Pat Reynolds PRO should go to represent IBRG. The meeting heard that Southwark and Newham IBRG had been set up in London, and that Haringey IBRG had received GLC funding for two workers for a welfare project of £26K. John Doyle has resigned as Youth officer. Nessan Danaher had been speaking at an Education Conference in Oxford. Haringey IBRG had referred an article in the Mail on Sunday to the Press Council over its attack on Sr Sarah Clarke who worked with Irish prisoners.
The Comhcomhairle would have workshops on the Media by PRO, Education by Nessan Danaher, Welfare by Caitlin Wright, Northern Ireland by Alan Wallace, PTA/Civil Liberties by Gearoid McGearalit, Political Prisoners by Prisoner’s Subcommittee and IBRG Image by Michael O’ Cnaimhsi.
It was agreed to set up new branches in Lewisham and Leamington Spa. The Ard Choiste agreed to set up a working party to identify ways of convening a conference on withdrawal from Ireland and that Joe Mullarkey, Michael O’Cnaimhsi and Paul O’Brien be part of this group.
Islington IBRG proposed that the Ard Choiste endorse the demonstration called to support Maire O’Shea and the repeal of the PTA which was agreed and that Gearoid speak. The meeting agreed to donate £40 to the Maire O’Shea Defence Fund. Pat Reynolds had secured £100 from Brent Nalgo for the PTA Campaign.
There were 20 active registered IBRG branches. Judy Peddle Runai resigned after the Ard Choiste meeting in Manchester because of ‘a clash of personalities between herself and a number of London based members of the executive.’ She had been Runai for three years and a member of the NEC for over four years. She was thanked for all her work on behalf of IBRG. The Irish Post ran the story on 21st September 1985 ‘IBRG secretary quits after row.’
On 10 September 1985 the Irish Press covered the story ‘Tories challenged on emigrant claim’ when they claimed that Irish emigrants were a crippling burden on the welfare state and that over 20,000 Irish were coming to Britain each year. The Tories had based their false claim on a report by Action Group for Irish Youth that had prepared a special report on emigration for the Dublin government.
Pat Reynolds, PRO, responded ‘Irish people coming to Britain do not cause unemployment. In fact, Irish born people are more economically active than the British born population. More people leave Britain every year than enter it, and we regard this as an attempt to make the Irish a scapegoat for the Thatcher’s government’s failure to tackle high unemployment’.
On 18 September 1985 John Stalker submitted his report of his inquiry into a cover up of a shoot to kill policy by members of the RUC.
On 21 September 1985 the Irish presenters of Manchester IBRG Irish line had a letter in the Irish Post with heading ‘BBC dodging the Irish line issue.’ It notes the Sunday Press of 11th August 1985 stated that most of the production team of the regular Irish show have been fired because they attempted to transmit political interviews and features.
They stated that John McManus the Radio Manchester programme controller was more honest.” He admitted to us that the BBC had been pressurised by people outside the corporation over its content and approach. In the light of recent revelations about political and M15 interference on the running of the BBC, we suppose that it is hardly surprising’.
The IBRG Ard Choiste took place at the Battersea Arts Centre on 5 October 1985 (8) with 20 officers and delegates present including Jim King chair, Marie Wynee, Sean Cross, Colm O Floinn, Denis Casey, Gearoid MacGearailt, Pat Reynolds, Paul O’Brien, Steve Morris, Joe Mullarkey, David Wright, Caitlin Wright, Maura Cassidy, Elizabeth Cassidy, Eddie Whyte, Michael O Cnaimhsi and Maire O’Shea with observers Peter Murray Islington, Steve Brennan and Alex McDonnell both from Lambeth.
The meeting heard reports from the various officers. The Ard Choiste gave £40 to Leeds branch to support Peter Lynch and donated £25 to the Committee for British Withdrawal. Brent Nalgo Irish Group wanted to affiliate with IBRG but the rules did not allow it. The Ard Choiste called for an ending of strip-searching of Ella and Martina in Brixton prison
On 12 October 1985 the Irish Post carried the story ‘IBRG slams Labour Policy’ in which the IBRG stated ‘Trade Unions and the Labour Party continue to support repression in Ireland while they hypocritically shout about similar suppression in South Africa. The IBRG must ask if the Irish community is willing to continue to support the party which maintains its colonial position on Ireland. The IBRG will continue to endorse candidates who publicly state their support for a United Ireland and an end to the British presence there’.
The report also stated that Haringey IBRG expressed concern that plastic bullets had been made available for use at the weekend disturbances at Broadwater Farm, but not used, as the Home Office feared using them in Britain, while still prepared to use them in their last colony of occupied Ireland.
On 12 October 1985 the Irish Post covered the founding of an Irish Workers Group within Brent NALGO, which had been recognised at Brent Nalgo AGM at Brent Town Hall. They gave the group £250 for its activities to support Irish workers within the council and activities in the Irish community.
Pat Reynolds seconded the motion for recognition, while Mike Trant the Branch secretary proposed it. Pat Reynolds stated this is a significant development within our union. It is also an acknowledgement of a new awareness of the Irish community in Brent and of the need for Irish workers to organise themselves within trade unions to work on issues affecting the Irish community in Britain and with issues affecting N. Ireland such as the PTA, the use of Plastic bullets and strip searching.
On 19 October 1985 the Irish Post carried the story ‘IBRG irate at Star acquittal’, which stated that the Press Council had rejected two complaints from the IBRG regarding items which had appeared in the Star newspaper on 2 and 8 August 1985.
The first one on 2 August was entitled ‘Bejasus your clever swine’ a Victorian pig in the kitchen story. The IBRG had agreed with the Press Council ‘That the newspaper published a racist and offensive diary item which was insulting to Ireland and the Irish people, tending to reinforce negative stereotypes about the Irish’.
The second one published on 8 August entitled The Blarney clone which claimed the Irish were using a shocking new system to improve the pedigree of their stock so a new Irish master breed is born. Generic engineering at its worst. When PRO Pat Reynolds complained to the editor, he replied treating the matter as some kind of joke and stated I hope you can accept my assurances that there are no anti Irish feelings here at the Star. I do not feel that a little bit of fun hurts anyone’.
In reply to the Press Council rejection of the IBRG complaints the IBRG stated ‘the refusal of the Press Council to condemn the racism of the Star for the second time confirms that it condones and by silence supports this racism. The denigration of Ireland and its people are an essential part of the British media propaganda war on Ireland. There are close links with Britain’s role in Ireland. The Press Council is acting as an apologist for the anti Irish racism of Fleet St, as witnessed by its failing to uphold complaints regarding the infamous JAK cartoon, and the column by racist labour MP Joe Ashtons which was s also in the Star. The IBRG for its part will continue to campaign against anti Irish racism in the media and will broaden its campaign to Ireland and the USA.
On 6 November 1985 the Guardian reported ‘Sun’s report on fire not racist’ in which they reported the Press Council findings on the IBRG complaint by PRO Pat Reynolds. The Press Council created new history and a new departure in order to rule against the IBRG complaint. Previously newspapers could not refer to the race of a person unless it had a relevance to the story. Indeed, they had ruled so earlier that year in another case involving a Black person.
The IBRG complaint against the Sun regarded a 36-year-old man who had been jailed for five years for manslaughter. In May 1985 the Press Council censored four daily newspaper for mentioning the colour of a 17-year youth who was convicted of murder and five rapes. The Press Council has consistently held that a person’s race or colour should only be introduced into a newspaper report, where it is relevant to the story being told. In that case the Press Council pronounced that the youth’s colour was irrelevant and should not have been mentioned by the four newspaper, the Sun, the Daily Express the Star and the Standard. Of interest these were also the papers the Irish community were battling with.
In this case the Press Council changed its own regulations and rules to rule out the Irish case and now in a major departure from its previous judgements stated that newspaper could now mention a person race or colour as long as it was not pejorative or prejudicial to describe a defendant in court case as Irish. Of interest, the Sun even use the word “Swine” in their heading on the case. How could any complainant now have a case where he could prove that the mention of the person’s race or colour was pejorative or prejudicial as this was extremely subjective with no examples given in either case. This case showed the extremes the racist Press Council were prepared to go to deny Irish people any access to redress in Britain from the vile racist of that media.
The IBRG Ard Choiste met In Birmingham on 26 October 1985 with 13 branches represented and where the workshops took place as planned on the various issues identified at the last Ard Choiste. The Comhcomhairle did not take place as it required two thirds of branches to be present, and there was not clarity as to how many branches were fully functioning at this stage.
At the end of October 1985 Jim King and Pat Reynolds headed off to Washington DC for the American Irish Unity conference where Jim King got a standing ovation for his speech on the Irish in Britain which included our work on the PTA, anti Irish racism in the media and the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford and Maguire Seven. Pat Reynolds also brought in material to the USA on Dr Marie O’Shea case which was subjudice in Britain but not in the USA. The only other person to receive a standing ovation that weekend was Sean McBride.
The IBRG met Sean McManus of Irish Caucus Group in America based in Washington DC, where they made a trip to his office where he ran a very powerful Irish American lobby. IBRG also met Paul Dwyer, Michael Flannery, Sean MacBride, Thomas Gallagher the writer, Rona Fields the writer who wrote on children in Northern Ireland, whose book was banned, and Des Wilson from Belfast, and met with all the Irish American groups with whom we exchanged details for further cooperation AOH, Irish Unity, Noraid, along with trade unions and cultural groups.
In New York City IBRG joined the picket of the British Consulate. On 7 November the PRO got a number of interviews on the Birmingham Six case and that of Dr Maire O Shea where he could say more than he could in the UK. The PRO got an immediate piece in the Irish People in the USA on Press Bigotry in England which they lifted mostly from the Irish Post. The IBRG delegates paid their own way and got put up by delegates they met at the Conference. They were invited to a Christy Moore concert in Washington DC where the audience went totally silent for the song The City of Chicago.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by the British and Irish Government on 15 November 1985 by Maggie Thatcher and Gareth Fitzgerald. Despite pressure from the Irish Embassy and Orla O’Halloran to give it a fair wind the IBRG rejected it.
The IBRG statement stated that ‘The IBRG condemn it as an attempt by the Irish government to deny the nationalist communities any political expression of nationhood, other than thorough those political parties considered acceptable or alternately through a Dublin representative over whom they had no control. The IBRG condemn it as a vehicle whose primary function is to allow Dublin to concede to Britain’s consistent demands for closer co-operation insecurity with all the political economic and security implications that such joint activity holds. The IBRG condemn the Irish government for implicating itself in the criminalisation policy of Britain with regard to the security and judicial machinery of the statelet, and for not addressing itself directly to the problems of harassment under the racist PTA, the humiliation of strip searching, the injustice of the Diplock Courts and of supergrasses and the dreadful hardships suffered by the Nationalist people since the 1922 treaty. The IBRG accuse both government of deliberately creating a framework for treating the symptoms of the struggle in Ireland and not the cause, and of intending to draw public attention away from the real situation, and towards controlled but false media type break through and solutions. The IBRG accuse Dublin of sell out of the sufferings and hardship of the Nationalist people over the last 60 years by participating in such a shambles and note that the only gains the Nationalist communities, are to have is Dublin putting forward views and proposals over which they have no control; and the possible attainment of the normal civil and cultural rights which are a minimum expectation in any civilised county. The IBRG support the continue demand for and United Ireland and a British withdrawal as the only formula for lasting peace. This agreement only postpones any settlement of the real problem of the British presence in Ireland. the agreement falls far short of the minimum expectations of the Forum report and seeks an internal solution within a British defined context, thus denying an All-Ireland prospective on peace and unity.
The IBRG reject the proposed facile changes in security and justice, in its ignoring of the history of British security and justice in Ireland, and its evasion of the fact that the central issue in N. Ireland is political and not criminal. The IBRG notes that this agreement gives credence to the view that the British government stands to gain more from the Irish government’s terms of cross border security, extradition and border maintenance, then the corresponding Irish views and proposals on the internal structures of N. Ireland. Indirectly this agreement gives the British government an influence upon the Irish government and Ireland through cross border security and extradition. This agreement is not the way forward, it is a stumbling block to any aspiration of Irish Unity’.
Prior to the debate on 27 November in the debate on the Agreement in the House of Commons Joan Maynard of the Labour Committee on Ireland called the agreement an attempt to head off the rising support for Sinn Fein, and the Labour Committe on Ireland described it as another attempt at an internal settlement within the Six Counties. As such, it would founder against the rock of partition, and will suffer the same fate as previous attempts to reform the Northern state. Tony Benn MP stated there can be no peace while Britain denies the Irish people their right to unity and independence, the real problem was partition.
On 18 November 1985 Senator Mary Robinson, future President of Ireland, resigned from the Labour party in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement because it is unacceptable to all sections of Unionist opinion. And ‘I do not believe it can achieve its objectives of securing peace and stability within Ireland or on the island as whole’.
The Agreement under Article 1 reiterates the British guarantee to the Unionists, but at the same for the first time ever, added a rider to say if eventually the majority wanted Irish Unity the British government would not stand in its way. It was in its way the first time in an international treaty, that the objective of Irish Unity had been put on the table, and that Britain had declared that they had no ulterior motive, strategic or otherwise for remaining in Ireland, and the Irish government were claiming to advocate the views of the minority community at the highest level. To many republicans and Nationalists there was still a Unionist veto on progress. When Fitzgerald went to Thatcher after the signing of the Treaty to seek her backing for the International Fund for Ireland from the EEC Thatcher’s reply said it all. ‘More money for these people. Why should they have more money’.
On 21 November 1985 the Dail approved the Anglo-Irish Agreement by 88 votes to 75.
On 23 November 1985 over 100,000 unionists marched against the Agreement.
At the end of November 1985, the IBRG condemned the arrest of several Irish people under the notorious racist PTA law, including Conor Foley and Brendan O Rourke. The IBRG called it a propaganda exercise to give the impression the police were doing a job. The Labour Committee on Ireland protested at the arrest of their National Student Organiser Conor Foley. The LCI stated ‘this is a dangerous and insidious undermining of civil liberties and cannot be tolerated by a democratic society The PTA is a piece of legislation blatantly designed to intimidate Irish people and organisations campaigning on Ireland into silence The LCI demand its repeal’. Read Conor’s own story here
The Irish Press covered the story with ‘Irish angry at arrest in Britain’. The IBRG ‘condemned the arrest under the notorious PTA laws during a police trawling exercise. Brendan O’Rourke was a member of Lambeth IBRG one of the arrested. These arrests were an attack upon the democratic political work of the Irish community in Britain. The IBRG called for an end to state organised terrorism against the community and called for freedom of speech for the Irish in Britain. In this case the Irish Embassy did help out over the arrested persons.
In November Marie O’Shea and Caitlin Wright spoke at a public meeting in Leeds along with the Black community and called for joint Black and Irish solidarity against the PTA and the conspiracy laws. Caitlin Wright welcomed the recent Granada World in Action programme on the Birmingham Six which should open up the case to the British and Irish public.
On 9 November in Birmingham a national demonstration took place to promote Maire’s case. This highly policed demo showed the support for her from across the labour movement and the Irish community locally and nationally. ( Watch a video of the demo here )
On 26 November 1985 in the Commons debate on the Anglo-Irish Agreement John Hume stated ’The unionist parties have consistently sought to protect the integrity of their heritage in Ireland-the Protestant heritage-and no one should quarrel with that. A society is richer for its diversity. My quarrel with the Unionist parties has been that they have sought to protect their heritage by holding all the power in their hands, and by basing that that on a sectarian solidarity. This is an exclusive use of power which is inherently violent because it permanently excludes a substantial section of the community from any say it its affairs’.
On 1st December 1985 IBRG members in London attended the GLC Youth Conference to have an Irish input into the meeting.
On 3 December 1985 Tom King speaking in Brussels stated ‘We have signed an agreement in which the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic has in fact accepted for all practical purposes and into perpetuity that there will never be a United Ireland.’ The Irish Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, stated ‘In effect we have been given a major and substantial role in the day to day running of N. Ireland’.
In December 1985 the Green Ink Bookshop founded by Pat Reynolds and the Green ink Writers opened their doors in Archway, North London. It sold books in Irish and in English, music and supplied libraries, schools and colleges and the Irish community with Irish literature and poetry.
1.Ard Choiste minutes 13/01/1985
2.Ard Choiste minutes 23/02/1985
3 .Ard Fheis minutes 23/03/198
4. Ard Choiste minutes 21/04/1985
5. Ard Choiste 9/06/1985
6. Ard Choiste minutes 14/07/1985
7. Ard Choiste minutes 7/09/1985
8. Ard Choiste minutes 5/10/1985
Listen to my talk about the IBRG in the northwest in the Irish Collection at the WCML here
Read Part 1, 2 and 3 of IBRG history here
An excellent history of 200 years of Irish political activity in Mancheser – including Manchester IBRG read “The Wearing of the Green” by Michael Herbert. Buy it here