The History of the Irish in Britain Representation Group part twelve 1992

 

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.

 

Kate Magee arrested in 1992. Photo Kevin Hayes.

 

On 18th January 1992 the IBRG Ard Choiste was held at the Sparkhill Cultural Centre in Birmingham. Seven delegates attended including Diarmuid Breatnach, Pat Reynolds, Siobhan O’Dwyer, Mary Donnelly, Kevin Hayes, and Virginia Moyles.

Apologies from Bernadette Hyland, Majella Crehan and Maurice Moore.

 Employment Discrimination in N. Ireland and Britain, the vote for emigrants, the Bloody Sunday March, the Lambeth IBRG Irish Welfare Conference, the General Election in Britain, the Ard Fheis, An Pobal Eirithe, and prisoners were discussed.

On 25th January IBRG branches with their banners took part in the Bloody Sunday March from Hyde Park to Kilburn. IBRG were part of the organising committee with TOM and LCI.

Peter Brooke was in fine voice on the Late Late Show singing My Darling Clementine in a week where IRA action killed eight Protestant building workers in Tyrone, he offered to resign after much protest.

 

In January the IBRG welcomed the award of £18k to two Irish students at Wood Green County Court in London over their wrongful arrest, assault, false detention, and malicious prosecution. It created a marker; Irish people were beginning to fight back against an unjust racist criminal justice system.

 

Haringey Council and Irish Workers

In January the IBRG expressed concern at job figures from Haringey Council Social Services Department which showed that 68% of Irish staff employed by Haringey Council worked in manual jobs compared with an average of 46% for all council staff.

Only 18% officials staff worked in officer posts compared with 38% for UK staff. The Irish within Social Services were largely confined to social care as Home Helps and part time, but got few of the quality full time officer jobs.

While the Irish made up a reasonable number of employees at 13%, they were confirmed to the lower jobs of home helps and clerical staff.  Only 12 Irishmen were employed by Haringey Council in Social services out of a workforce of 1677. Clearly Irish men were not getting a look in from Haringey Council while Irishwomen were twice as likely to be in a poor job as White English, Caribbean or Asian women.

It showed clearly that Haringey Council had not extended their Equal Opportunities Policy beyond token recognition to the Irish community, despite having an Irish Liaison Unit and the Irish being on the Ethnic Minorities committee.

Yet Haringey Council had launched, in the House of Commons before Christmas, a positive report on the Irish with a good practice guide on EOP the Irish community, and had prided themselves on being the leading authority in Britain in addressing the needs of the Irish community.

 Overall Haringey employed 729 Irish employees making up 10% of Haringey councils workforce, with some 62% of all Irish staff working with Haringey being in manual grades compared with a Council average of 43% for all employees.

The Irish in Britain were often confined to jobs in the construction industry, in hospitals and in pubs, with poor access to quality jobs with pensions. Irish women empolyees in Town Halls  were likely to be confined to home helps and dinners workers and the men in manual type jobs. This had implications for service delivery to the Irish community in social services and in other areas, as it was important for minority communities to see their community reflected in the Town Hall across the board.

The Irish Post covered the story with Haringey fails Equality test. The Irish World had London councils face Irish discrimination probe.

The Irish in Britain News had a story about Emigrants Aid Crisis on the Dion funding for Irish groups in Britain. Pat Reynolds pointed out that then Irish government spent the same amount on funding the Irish community in Britain, as the amount Dublin Zoo spend on feeding  animals which was a half million.

 

In January three IBRG members were involved in producing the first edition of Irish Ways a Literary magazine funding by the London Arts Board with Pat Reynolds Steve Brennan and John Carty all IBRG members involved. They were to produce three issues of the magazine for a difficult market in Britain.

 

Irish Exam performance in Islington Secondary Schools

In January the IBRG expressed concern over Irish exam performance in Islington secondary schools.  Despite the two catholic schools in the borough producing the best results, the overall results for Irish pupils were poor. The results showed Irish girls performing poorly and the IBRG stated that the Irish community needed an explanation as to why Islington schools were failing Irish girls, and why overall they were performing below the National average, and below the figures for ILEA.

IBRG called on all Irish community groups in Britain to demand performance figures from their local authority as the 1980 Education Reform Act required all school to publish their results. While the Irish were excluded from the 1991 ethnic census of schools, there was a provision within the Act for schools to monitor other groups, where there were more than 20 pupils from that group attending the school.

On 28th January Pat Reynolds went with Jodie Clark to visit an Irish prisoner in Maidstone prison. Painful to think while visiting that they had hung a catholic Priest there in 1798 who was on his way to France and who was linked with the Irish rebellion.

 

In January Lambeth IBRG project dealt with several request and visits from students wanting help with research. In just one month the project had, a London student re -mental health,  a Loughborough student on anti-Irish racism, a Wandsworth student on Irish and education, one Enfield student re-education, one Margate student re Irish and discrimination, one North  London Poly student re- Irish groups, and one Belfast student on anti-Irish racism in the media, plus a request re an Irish student conference in Britain.

At the same time the Project had requests from other Irish projects in London,  from Irish in Islington re-education,  from Innisfree, Battersea & Wandsworth Irish society, BIAS, WMPTA, Green Ink, Glor an Deorai, and calls from both Fulham and Lambeth Social services,  plus the usual community cases on welfare and housing and employment plus running a  pensioner group every week. Thus, the project had a London wide if not country wide reach in terms of supporting the Irish community.

On 4th February an RUC officer entered the Sinn Fein Centre in Belfast and murdered three people and the next day Loyalists murdered five Catholics at Sean Graham’s bookie shop in Belfast.

Prevention of Terrorism Act  Arrests and press coverage

Pat Reynolds PRO wrote a letter to the Irish in Britain News to complain about their coverage of recent PTA arrests which had a headline IRA Trial Hears Hit List with a publication of two IRA bomb damage photos.

The letter argued that the press coverage was deeply prejudicial to the defendants and against the subjudice laws. In the public eye these photographs would attempt to link the defendants with similar actions, and would weaken the public presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and the changes of a fair trial. Given the history of Irish cases in Britain it was unhelpful to have the Irish media carrying out the rush to judgement of the British judicial system. 

The letter urged extreme caution in reporting such cases, and urged the need to defend the right to a fair hearing in a system which had vetted juries, high security, trial by media and trials often held in military towns, and where only the prosecution case was given to the British public. There were simply political shows trials.

Smash the PTA badge designed by Diarmuid Breatnach Lewisham IBRG.

 

 

On 6th February Albert Reynolds was elected Leader of Fianna Fail and Irish Taoiseach.

On 12th February Pat Reynolds PRO had an interview on Radio 4.

 

Judith Ward and release of William McKane

On 13th February IBRG members took part in a candle lit picket of Holloway Prison for Judith Ward. William McKane was released the same day and had a celebration at the Red Lion in Kilburn.

On 14th February the IBRG issued a Press release to state English Jury supports Justice for Irish people and stated ‘English juries are no longer prepared to believe circumstantial evidence used in Irish trials to convict innocent Irish people, or to go along with trial by media, and state propaganda surrounding such trials.’

 William McKane had spent 15 months in jail awaiting the hearing while his wife had spent 5 months in prison, and six Irish people arrested with McKane on Kilburn High Road were served with exclusion orders. A copy of An Phoblacht was used in evidence against McKane.

Again, the IBRG condemned the use of conspiracy laws against innocent Irish people and called for them to be abolished.

 

The Ard Choiste met at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in Islington North London on 15th February. Seven delegates attended including Diarmuid Breatnach, Pat Reynolds, Siobhan O’Dwyer, Robert Ryan, Tom Fitzsimons, Kevin Hayes, and Virginia Moyles. 

Apologies Bernadette Hyland, Neil Doolin and Majella Crehan.

The Lambeth Irish Welfare Conference, an Easter Rally, Bloody Sunday report back, the General election, the Ard Fheis, an Pobal Eirithe, Irish Prisoners and the review of IBRG were all discussed.  The Lambeth Irish Welfare conference was on 2nd February at Lambeth Town Hall, the Easter Event organised by Haringey IBRG was on 10th April, the Ard Fheis was planned for 28th March in Manchester. William McKane had been released. The review of IBRG recommended that officers meet at least four times a year, that IBRG set out two or three key objectives each year, and that each officer set out an action plan for their work and area of activity e.g. prisoners, women’s, education youth etc.

On 16th February Kevin Barry O’Donnell was executed by Crown forces along with three other volunteers in Co Tyrone.

 

1990 Exam results  of Irish Children in Inner London

On 20th February the IBRG issued a Press release on a published analysis of the 1990 exam results within the six LEAs in Inner London, which showed Irish children who were lumped in together with English Welsh and Scottish pupils doing very poorly in their results, with only Caribbean pupils doing worse.  All the other pupils African, Asian, Turkish, Pakistani and Bangladeshi were all doing better.

IBRG called for the separation of Irish pupils from English pupils in the survey  so that their true results and performance could be seen. The Irish were the only large minority community who were not monitored separately in London. The report was at odds with the community belief and expectations that Irish children do well at school with many attending catholic schools, and the report was at odd with a previous ILEA report before they were disbanded by the Tories, which showed Irish children doing better.

IBRG called for further research and noted a lack of Irish teachers outside the Catholic schools, and a wholesale denial of Irish culture even by the English Catholic church who were openly hostile to Irish culture. The recent example of anti-Irish material circulating at the leading Catholic Training college St Marys at Strawberry Hill had raised concerns. There was a need for Irish parents to become involved in the education process as school governors, and there was a need for Irish community organisation to ensure their local educational authority took on board the concerns of the Irish community. Seamus Carey used the example as to why Catholic schools did not put on an Irish evening, like they did with African, Caribbean and Asian evenings for parents. When they did at St Thomas More School in Wood Green it was extremely successful.

 

5th Irish Welfare Conference

On 22nd February Lambeth IBRG held their 5th annual Irish Welfare Conference at Lambeth Town Hall. Speakers included Angie Birthill from the London Irish Women’s Centre, Padraic Kenna from Innisfree Irish Housing Association, Siobhan O’Dwyer on Social Services, Pat Reynolds on researching the Irish, Liam Greenslade from the Institute of Irish Studies in Liverpool on mental health, Seamus Taylor on equal opportunism, and Noirin Ni Reardain on Disabilities and the Irish community.

Joe Callinan, the Irish born deputy Mayor of Lambeth, attended the Conference which in its plenary session called on local and national bodies to take on board the expressed needs of the Irish community in areas of welfare, health, housing and employment.

The Conference got wide publicity in the Irish weeklies in Britain with London Conference on Improving Welfare, Irish issues faced in Seminar, and IBRG hold 5th Annual Irish Welfare Conference, and Conference call for action on Welfare.

The IBRG condemned Gay Mitchell, Fine Gael TD, over his comments on Nessan Quinlivan and Pierce McAuley and called on him to uphold the right of any person, to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by the courts. Pat Reynolds PRO wrote to the Irish papers including the Sunday Press condemning the remarks of Guy Mitchell TD. The letter stated ‘I find it particularly sad when elected members of Dail Eireann fail to maintain the public perception of innocence in relation to unconvicted Irish nationals. Long may the demand for justice and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the demand for framed prisoners to be released be supported by Irish people at home and abroad.”

 

On 29th February the Irish Post had Bolton IBRG plans week of events which included an event for International Women’s Day and with a Ceili later in the month of March.

On 9th March figures from N. Ireland show that 93% of the RUC were Protestant.

On 13th March the Irish World had a feature entitled Exiled in the Media Changing Times in which it detailed the fight by the Irish community in Britain to be treated fairly by the British media. It showed  how  Sean Sexton of IBRG and the Irish Media Organisation had made  their bid for more Irish TV and Radio space in Britain.

Sean Sexton stated ‘given what we contribute  to this country in taxes and licence fees, and coupled with the number of Irish people who have made it in British’s society, both in professional and entertainment circles, the amount of airtime and treatment meted out in the media in general is a disgrace’. The article also detailed the work of IBRG in challenging the media over its fake made-up stories and its racism.

 

The Irish in Britain News carried a story IBRG face Eviction over Provo Storm where in Haringey a right-wing Tory councillor with links to hard-line Unionists, Ron Aitkin, claimed that IBRG had consistently supported the provisional IRA  and called for IBRG to be evicted from their offices in Hornsey library. He claimed IBRG had quite consistently apologised for Gerry Adams and defended thew IRA at every opportunity.

These remarks were clearly libellous and without any foundation. This was just before the General Election and Labour ran for the hills and later evicted IBRG even though IBRG were paying rent for a small office. Cllr Ron Aiken was the former researcher for the Reverend Martin Smyth who was head of the notorious sectarian Orange Order responsible over decades for most the racist sectarian violence in N. Ireland including the shocking programme  against Catholics in 1921.

His paranoid rantings about IBRG was not the first, but there were so libellous that no papers would carry his remarks. When challenged to provide any evidence, Ron Aiken despite his so-called research work,  could not come up with single piece of evidence to support his rantings.

Haringey IBRG pointed out that Pat Reynolds had been elected by the Irish community to serve on Haringey Ethnic Minorities consultative council, and was as entitled as Ron Aiken to use an office at the library for consultation with members of the Irish community and for Irish clients who wanted support with housing or employment.

On 21st March the Irish Post covered a story IBRG stalwart says it’s time to Go which was about Bernadette Hyland standing down as IBRG Chair after three years of service. Bernadette was the first woman to lead an Irish national organisation in Britain although Dr Maire O’Shea had earlier been President of IBRG. In the article Bernadette gave her background growing up in a working-class Irish family and paid tribute to Joe and Margaret Mullarkey for their work for the Irish community in Bolton where she joined IBRG. She talked of the position of the Irish community in Britain and of the situation in Ireland, and why IBRG had to speak out on these issues.

On 22nd March Irish community organisations met with the Commission for Racial Equality to persuade them to undertake research into the Position of the Irish community in Britain. Those attended were Seamus Taylor Chair, Pat Reynolds IBRG, Tom O’Connor, Brendan O Rourke, Dave Murphy, Mary Hickman, Paraic Kenna, Mary Connolly, Donal McGrath and Joan Flynn.

 

On 28th March the IBRG Ard Fheis was held at the Working-Class Movement Library in Salford Manchester. The following ten branches were represented Haringey, Merseyside, Manchester, Bolton, Lewisham, Camden/Hackney, Harrow, Coventry and NE Lancs. 20 delegates in total attended.

Among those attending was Siobhan O’Dwyer, Neil Doolin, Joe Mullarkey, Paddy Prescott, Bernadette Hyland, Linda Sever, Diarmuid Breatnach, Virginia Moyles, Pat Reynolds, Kevin Hayes, Denis Casey, Maurice Moore, Michael Murphy, Nigel Cook, Kevin Bean, Pauline Hughes and Jill Moroney.

Apologies from Caitriona Scanlan and Majella Crehan. A vote was thanks was given to Margaret Mullarkey for the wonderful food provided on the day.

The meeting adopted the Irish version of IBRG Cumann Ionadaiochta na nEireannach sa Bhreatain.

The following officers were elected

Chair Virginia Moyles Hackney/Camden

Runai Neil Doolin Liverpool

PRO Pat Reynolds Haringey.

Cisteoir Maurice Moore Coventry

 Membership/Internal coordinator Bernadette Hyland Manchester

 Regional coordinator Joe Mullarkey Bolton

Women’s Officer Majella Crehan Haringey

Education Officer Kevin Bean NE. Lancs

Prisoners officer Siobhan O’Dwyer Haringey.

 Welfare Office Michael Murphy Manchester.

 Editor an Pobal Eirithe Diarmuid Breatnach Lewisham.

The following motions were carried;

A motion calling on the Ard Fheis to examine whether the present structure of the Ard Choiste was the best way forward rather than an elected executive,

A motion calling on the officers to meet outside the Ard Choiste to progress issues in IBRG,

 A motion calling on the incoming Ard Choiste to allocate specific areas of responsibility to each officer and if necessary, to coop individuals for some issues.

A motion setting out the following priorities for the coming year, recruitment, finance raising, branch development, and publications.

A motion calling on the IBRG to seek full recognition by the CRE of the Irish community,

A motion condemning the price of Irish passports,

A motion condemning moves to delete Article Two and Three from the Irish Constitution,

A motion supporting the Declaration for Peace in Ireland which reaffirmed that there should be no change to the Irish constitution over Article Two and Three.

A motion supporting the Manchester Martyrs commemoration,

 A motion condemning the harassment of Irish students in Britain under the PTA and the media,

A motion urging IBRG to monitor discrimination against Travellers in access to state benefits in Britain,

A motion condemning the legal status of the UDA despite their involvement in several murders, (Of interest the British Government would ban the UDA later in the year).

A motion condemning the delay by the Irish government in granting justice and compensation to Nicky Kelly, Oscar Breatnach and another,

A motion welcoming the move towards independence in Scotland,

A motion condemning the Labour Party for moving from a position of repeat the PTA to one of reform,

An emergency motion welcoming the return of funding to Glor na nGael in Belfast

An emergency motion calling on the Irish government to conduct basic research on the results of the 1991 census on the Irish in Britain and to make that information available to the community.

A vote of thanks was given to Bernadette Hyland who was standing down as Chair and to Caitlin Wright a long-term officer who had stood down after many years of service.

 

IBRG Election Manifesto for Irish Community

At the end of March the IBRG published their election manifesto  for the upcoming British General Election calling for the ending of British rule in Ireland, and self-determination for the Irish people, the end of all human rights abuses and repressive legislation, the ending of the racist PTA laws,  the ending of censorship and propaganda on Ireland, the ending of employment discrimination,  the transfer of Irish prisoners, the ending of strip searching, the banning of plastic bullets, the ending of Diplock Courts, and a return to jury courts, and the ending of the British shoot to kill policy.

For the Irish community in Britain the IBRG demanded  an end to anti-Irish racism and discrimination in Britain, recognition as an ethnic minority community with full access to equal opportunities in housing, employment, education health and welfare, the provision of resources to meet the expressed needs of the Irish community, a fair share of media time including a radio station and access to TV programmes, along with work contracts and safety measures in the construction industry.

 

Green Ink held their annual London Irish Book fair in March  at the Camden Irish Centre and the Irish writer Jack O’Brien in a letter to the papers wrote about the wall of silence around Irish affairs, and he stated ‘The contribution which I found most interesting among a series of excellent contributions, was from Nadine Finch from the Irish in Britain Representation Group concerning the erosion of civil liberties in Britain. Much of what I heard at Camden came as shock to me. I was alarmed that the police state was so well established in Britain. Tom Paine must be turning in his grave’.

The British General Election was held on 9th April with Neil Kinnock snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Gerry Adams lost his West Belfast seat. The Tories won a minority government of 21 seats, which made them dependent on unionist votes to survive after anti-European Tories turned on Mayor. Patrick Mayhew took over as colonial master in the occupied territory.

On 10th April the day after the General election the IRA bombed the Baltic exchange in London killing two people and causing £800M of damage compared with £615 damage for the whole N. Ireland war damage since 1969. It sent tremors thought the city of London who told Mayor to sort it out or they would be off to Europe.

 

On 13th April N.E. Lancs IBRG held their AGM in Blackburn and spoke of a very successful year with increased membership They were now holding bi-weekly session of Irish traditional music song and dance in Blackburn.

 

Kate Magee Campaign

On 13th April the INLA killed a British soldier in Derby: an event which later led to the arrest of  Irish woman Kate Magee on the following day.

Kate was a single parent with two children living in Derby.  The West Midland PTA Research and Welfare Association was informed of Kate’s arrest by a local Irish builder, Pat McAndrew, who later went onto form the Derby IBRG branch. Kate’s son was taken away from her and it was only after 16 days and much lobbying by Irish groups that the Derby police revealed she was in Durham’s high security prison for women. After 66 days in prison the prosecution dropped the major criminal charge, leaving the lesser PTA charge of witholding information.

The documents of the  campaign to free Kate are held in the IBRG archive at the WCML.

 

On 18th April the IBRG released a Press statement condemning police raids against the Irish community in Britain. John Major condemned the London IRA target bombing but was responsible for the mass bombing of Baghdad which killed thousands of innocent men women and children when the Iraqi army were on the Kuwait border.

IBRG noted the contract in the British media between the three dead from the IRA bombing in London and the deaths at the Sinn Fein office by an RUC man and the deaths by Loyalists at a bookie office in West Belfast.Irish lives were hardy worth a mention in the British media whereas an English death was a huge propaganda issue.

IBRG again called for a political solution in N. Ireland based on justice and real peace, and one that tackles the cause of the war and not the symptoms. The British agenda was one based on war and oppression of the nationalist community, and IBRG wanted one based on equality and an ending of British imposed partition in Ireland.

On 19th April Pat Reynolds was speaking at the Sparkhill Cultural Centre in Birmingham along with a Sinn Fein speaker for their Easter Commemoration rally. The event was organised by the Republican Coordinating Committee along with Birmingham IBRG.

On 25th April the IBRG marched with their banner on the Kurdish march in London to the Ministry of Defence.

The IBRG in Haringey were to lose their office space later in the year after losing their funding and their two workers over a year ago. Lambeth IBRG remained the last of the three IBRG projects in London but lost their funding in March 1992.

On 6th May Neil Doolin, Runai Merseyside IBRG,  had a powerful letter in the Liverpool Echo  newpaper entitled An attack on basic civil liberties which stated ‘the remarks of James Sharpes Chief Constable of Merseyside that a tougher Prevention of Terrorism Act be proposed, so people can be detained at random, even if ether is no reasonable suspicion on which to hold them, are utterly condemned by the Merseyside branch of the Irish in Britain Representation Group. We find his proposal for new powers for police and customs and the introduction of national identity cards as particularly abhorrent and an attack on civil liberties’. Neil’s letter went on to give the history of the abuse of Irish people under the racist PTA laws.

Neil Doolin Merseyside IBRG

Neil Doolin Merseyside IBRG

 

Pat Reynolds in Haringey had a letter from his MP Barbara Roche which stated ‘The Labour Party is pledged to work towards a United Ireland achieved by peaceful means and on the basis of consent. We therefore would wish to defeat terrorism by all lawful means, but are committed to ending counterproductive measures such as the prevention of terrorism act, strip searching and plastic bullets. I strongly support this position’.

Which was the usual Labour Party policy  standing behind the Unionist veto and seeking the defeat of the Republican movement.  She failed to mention that N. Ireland was set up against the will of the Irish people, and it was set up by extreme violence including the Belfast pogrom of 1921, the  mass burning of Catholic businesses, the driving of Catholic workers from their  jobs and the murder of several hundred Catholics by Orange extremists, aided and abetted by the British government who put the Catholics of Belfast down in 1921.

On 10th May IBRG members attended the Sands/Connolly Rally at Conway Hall in London where Mitchell McLoughlin of Sinn Fein  was the main speaker. Their leaflet heading was Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland with no mention of Troops out or Irish self-determination. It sounded more like Labour Party fringe meeting than a republican meeting.

On 16th May the Ard Choiste took place at the Four Provinces Club in Coventry. Nine delegates attended including Neil Doolin, Kevin Bean, Siobhan O’Dwyer, Pat Reynolds, Diarmuid Breatnach, Maurice Moore, Kevin Hayes, and Virginia Moyles.

Apologies from Majella Crehan, Nigel Cook, Bernadette Hyland, and Peter Skerrit.

The meeting decided to sponsor the Anti-Racist alliance, the Anti-Nazi league, and anti-Fascist action. It was noted that the police had been involved in trawling the Irish community under the PTA. The IBRG had condemned the raids and criticised the Irish Post for lack of coverage of these arrests. 33 Irish people were detained with 31 later released. Kate Magee was now in Durham Jail.  A motion from Haringey condemned the recent raids on the Irish community, and a further Haringey motion welcomed the release of Judith Ward after 18 years of false imprisonment on Dr Skuse evidence and other fake evidence. The meeting agreed to affiliate to the PTA Research Association for £100.

On 17th May IBRG issued a Press release which stated IBRG welcomes the release of the last 1974 Hostages. It went on’ The British state of which Labour were in power criminal conspiracy in framing 18 innocent Irish people was to shut up the Irish community. The conspiracy failed because of the courage of the prisons, their families and the fight back by the Irish community aided by concerned British people. The IBRG dispute that these were miscarriages of justice, they were special cases selected for a political purpose. The special factors in these cases was anti-Irish racism aided and abetted by the state, with many British establishment figures enhancing their careers on the backs of these innocent people’. The IBRG called for the release of Kate Magee and the dropping of all charges against her. The Irish World covered the story with Ireland Welcomes the release of the last 1974 hostage.

On 18th May Pat Reynolds was able to make a number of points on the  Any Questions programme  on RTE TV which was filmed in London for the first time. The panel were Jeffrey Archer MP, Clare Short MP, David Alton MP and Pro Life, and Sr Joan Kane a Haringey Irish community worker.

In Liverpool IBRG were pushing for an Irish radio programme on BBC Radio Merseyside, the Irish being the only large minority community not provided for in Liverpool.

In May the IBRG condemned the London Evening Standard over an article on N. Ireland by an ex-soldier who compared the Six Counties to a pig sty in Victorian style colonial stereotypes. On 19th May the IBRG released a Press statement entitled IBRG deplores Gutter Journalism of London Evening Standard. The article by an ex Para was full of praise for the notorious Paras and ended up by misquoting Joyce That Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow. When she ceases to be and only then can the parachute regiment and others withdraw from the sty’. The London Evening standard had a shocking history of anti-Irish racism including the Jak cartoons after which the GLC withdrew all advertising from the Standard. The Irish News covered the story with IBRG Fury with  Sty analogy.

The IBRG called for the paratroopers to be withdrawn from N. Ireland following several attacks on local people in Co Tyrone which was covered in the Irish News. The Paras had a history of shocking brutality in Ireland including Bloody Sunday where they  murdered 13 civilians.

In Blackburn the IBRG put on their 2nd annual Blackburn Irish Friendship Festival, with several events including the showing of Mise Eire and a Curious Journey in a week-long Festival. The Irish weeklies covered it with Blackburn Friendship Irish festival and Friendship fete for Lancashire, with a whole week of song, dance, theatre, literature and films. The Irish News had North West Irish Unite Week-long Irish festival. The Irish Post had had four photos with heading of Blackburn’s Irish festival

 

The Bolton Irish Festival organised by Bolton IBRG was held on 14-16th June. It included a wide range of cultural events such as Irish music, games, an exhibition of the Irish in Bolton, Irish dancing, Irish stalls and much more.

 The Festival got considerable publicity in local and national Irish media.  There were several  pieces in the Irish weeklies, Scenes from Bolton Irish festival  with three photos including a Gaelic Mass  a Pipe band and a Gaelic football match, a photo in the Irish Post with Festive Bolton with Joe Mullarkey speaking with the Mayor of Bolton, another Irish Post piece with Weekend Festival begins in Bolton, and Stalls still available at Bolton Festival, a photo spread with heading A Bolton Revival with four photos including one of the main square, the Irish News had Grant problem but Festival will go Ahead,, and another with Bolton Irish festival and in the Irish World Bolton Irish festival and the last one Bolton Irish History exhibition which had been put together  under the direction of Margaret Mullarkey.

On 2nd June  IBRG had a stall at the Fleadh in Finsbury Park, North London which drew thousands of people and  we were able to display materials on IBRG, prisoners and other issues.

On 4th June Judith Ward’s conviction is quashed with judges accusing the forensic scientists involved in the case of having concealed evidence.

On 15th June IBRG members attended the Casement Accused Meeting at the House of Commons where Mike Mansfield QC and Tony Benn MP spoke.

On 16th June IBRG members attended a fringe meeting a the Nalgo Conference in Bournemouth where Pat Reynolds IBRG, Fr Paddy Smith ICPO, Siobhan O’Dwyer IBRG and Patricia Campbell spoke.

The Conference turned down a motion calling for Troops Out and Irish self-determination put forward by Lewisham Nalgo. Instead Nalgo backed the Connolly Association position and their Irish night at the end of the conference raised £1500 for the Connolly Association.

The Irish Post story was headed NALGO to step up campaign on Irish Unity. The Lewisham motion for Troops out and Self-determination was moved by Carl Reynolds of Lewisham Nalgo who stated that it was impossible to separate the abuses of human rights going on in N. Ireland from the British military present there. 

The NEC opposed the motion and claimed they already had a United Ireland policy and were working with TUIUI (Trade Unionists for a United Ireland) in Dublin.

It was announced that the Irish government were to fund an Irish language pilot scheme in Southwark to teach the Irish language in three secondary schools. The IBRG had identified Southwark as having a number of Irish language speakers, from a detailed Mori survey of the Borough. Southwark was of course the place where the Irish literary Society was born which gave rise to the Irish Gaelic renaissance at the end of the 19th century. It was also where Liam MacCarty the name on the All Hurling Cup final lived his life as an Irish republican and a borough councillor.

The Irish Post story was New Irish Language initiative. The idea behind the scheme was to fund an Irish language teacher teaching Gaelic in between six to 10 schools in Southwark. The Council Irish Policy Officer Pat Reynolds welcomed the project which would benefit Irish children in Southwark.

On 21st June Jim Gibney of Sinn Fein at the Wolfe Tone commemoration stated ‘We know and accept that the British government’s departure from Ireland must be preceded by a sustained period of peace and will arise out of negotiations involving the different shades of Irish nationalist and Irish unionist’. This hinted at a possible ceasefire to allow talks to begin.

On 29th June Liverpool IBRG held an Irish Perspective on British Welfare conference at the Irish Centre in Liverpool where Liam Greenslade was the main speaker on mental health and the Irish.

On 11th July the Ard Choiste took place at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in Islington North London. Twelve delegates attended including Pat Reynolds, Maire Kennedy, Padraigin Ni Nuallain, Tom Fitzsimons, Robert Ryan, Siobhan O’Dwyer, Bernadette Hyland, Neil Doolin, Kevin Hayes, Virginia Moyles, and Majella Crehan. Apologies Diarmuid Breatnach.

Kevin Hayes reported that 28 Irish people had been arrested in the recent wave of PTA attacks on the Irish community. Kate Magee had been given £20k bail. The meeting decided to affiliate to the Irish Women’s Défense campaign.

The meeting congratulated Diarmuid Breatnach on winning the Irish Post short story competition, and the meeting expressed its thanks to Siobhan O’Dwyer, London IBRG member, who was off to Australia soon.

On 19th July the IBRG had a stall at the Kilburn Irish Youth Festival La Feile na Nog.

On 25th July the Irish Post covered the Lewisham Irish community effort to find an Irish centre with Initial objective finally achieved, where it detailed how the Committee of the new Irish Centre chaired by Diarmuid Breatnach with Theresa Burke as Runai fought for their centre.

On 29th July Birmingham City Council had a report on The Irish community In Birmingham put to the Community Affairs Committee. In 1986 Birmingham had commissioned Dr Ita O’Donavan to prepare a study of the needs of the Irish community in Birmingham. The report proposed holding a Seminar/conference with the Irish community on 18th October.

On 31st July IBRG members along with Nalgo Irish Workers Group lobbied Nalgo HQ at Kings Cross London over getting recognition for Irish workers.

Lambeth IBRG and Irish working in Social Services

The IBRG highlighted a case where an Irish home help had been dragged through the courts for an offence she did not commit. The Crown admitted there was no evidence against her. The IBRG took up her case to get justice and support for an Irish woman, who had been left shattered by the experience. It was the second such case that Lambeth IBRG had dealt with where an innocent Irish woman working in social services ended up in court, without any support from the council or her union.

On 31st July the Irish Weekly covered the story with Irish Mum’s Life in Ruins IBRG take on Lambeth for Justice, where it detailed the work of the IBRG in forcing Lambeth council to rectify the situation by providing therapy and time off for what they had put this Irish woman through.

On 2nd August Pat Reynolds and Kevin Hayes attended a meeting in Birmingham to plan Birmingham first Irish consultative conference some 10 years after the GLC held theirs. Liam Greenslade Seamus Taylor, and Fr Taaffe also attended.

On 9th August IBRG members took part in the Anti-Internment March in Belfast with their banner with Caitlin Wright and Pat Reynolds among those present.

In August the Irish weeklies covered the opening of Lewisham Irish centre, the first article was The Lewisham Team with a photo of Diarmuid Breatnach and Theresa Burke, the other article was Lewisham We’re Opening Ours again with the same photo. The centre was due to open on 10th October.

On 10th August the murderous UDA were banned in N. Ireland many years too late.

In August IBRG condemned the arrest of five Irish people in West London under the PTA and the media hype surrounding the arrests including Secret Life of Terror Sisters by Today, and Mystery as Police release IRA group by the Evening Standard.

On 2nd August the IBRG released a Press statement IBRG condemning  police raids on Irish community. The raids appeared to be a propaganda exercise to lift the flagging moral of the British police in their failure against the IRA. The raids all had a similar character often during the holidays season, false stories given by the police to the media, fake banner headlines, unfounded claims of bomb plots, the labelling of innocent Irish people as terrorist, and silent release, and a shattering of lives. 

On 29th August the Irish Post covered it with Hysteria alleged in media PTA coverage which covered both the IBRG and the Repeal the PTA Campaign response to the arrests. The London Evening Standard had Mystery as police free IRA group. Nuala Kelly of ICPO also complained of the treatment of Irish people arrested under the PTA. The Police call for people to provide information of Irish people looking for accommodation was extremely racist and was targeting innocent Irish workers in Britain seeking work. The Irish World had IBRG condemn Arrest Publicity.

The IBRG condemned the London Evening Standard for a cartoon over a Channel Four programme on the Six Counties as the usual stereotype for the Standard. The cartoon depicted the Irish as drunk and stupid, the same old Victorian racism from the backwards Standard.

On 19th September the Ard Choiste took place at the Liverpool Irish Centre. Six delegates attended including Neil Doolin, Pat Reynolds, Patrick Doolin, Patrick Logan and Terry Coirbin and Diarmuid Breatnach.

Apologies from Virginia Moyles, Kevin Bean, Siobhan O Dwyer, Majella Crehan, Kevin Hayes, Bernadette Hyland, and Maire Kennedy. 

Among the issues discussed were An Pobal Eirithe, Review of IBRG, Travellers, PTA arrests, Prisoners, and the Manchester Martyr’s Commemoration. A motion from Haringey was passed condemning the government proposal to abolish the Caravan Site Act which gave  Local Authorities  the  duty to provide sites for Travellers. A further Haringey motion condemned the BBC for voice over used with Bernadette McAliskey and a motion deploring British government for retaining British borders within Europe.

IBRG condemns abolition of 1968 Caravans Sites Act

In September the IBRG attacked Tory government plans to abolish the 1968 Caravan Sites Act which required Local authorities in Britain to provide sites for travellers. There were 2,800 Irish travellers’ caravans out of a total of 13,477 traveller caravans in Britain in January 1992. The IBRG were making a submission to the DOE before the deadline of 13th November.

On 21st September the IBRG issued a press statement IBRG oppose Government proposals on travellers. The IBRG condemned the proposed government legislation relating to Travellers as being racist in intent and practise, and an attack on Travellers way of life and culture. 

The Merseyside Racial Equality Council condemned as racist government plans to change the law after representations from Liverpool IBRG and Conrad na Geigle.

 Mise Eire/ I am Ireland events in Manchester Festival

Michael Herbert had a feature article in the Irish Post on the Irish Arts input into the Manchester Arts Festival. The article entitled Irish Arts shine in City Festival gave a very detailed account of each of the planned Irish events. The Irish element was organised by  Manchester IBRG. It included the Hairy Marys, Ronan Bennett, Glen Patterson, Clair O’Connor, and a walk around Irish Manchester plus an IBRG social.

On 25th September Michael Herbert launched his book Never Counted Out the story of Len Johnson a Black Irish man a boxer and  communist  from Manchester.

 

In Haringey the IBRG took up the employment head count where 60% of Irish staff at the Town Hall worked in manual type jobs compared with an average of 41% for all staff. IBRG also pointed out that Haringey had increased the proportion of Black staff from 21% in 1985 to 44% in 1991 a lesson for the British government in tackling employment discrimination in Nt Ireland.

On 25th September the IBRG issued a Press release IBRG condemn employment discrimination in Local Government which drew attention to a recent headcount of Town hall staff in Haringey which had an Irish population of 22,000 or 11% of the borough’s population. 

Haringey Council employed 715 Irish staff out of a total of 7.110 staff making up some 10% of the workforce.  Haringey had increased their Black and Ethnic staff numbers from 21% in 1985 to 43.5% in 1991, despite huge cuts to public service. This contrasted strongly with N. Ireland where nothing had changed to employment discrimination against Catholics for over 20 years of direct British rule.  The IBRG made the point that if Haringey, Lambeth and other London boroughs could make huge improvements  in tackling discrimination in employment, there was something very fundamentally wrong in N. Ireland.

IBRG however expressed concern over Haringey figures in that there was a high concentration,  60%, of Irish staff in the poorer manual type jobs, compared with a Council average of 41% for all staff. This meant that Irish staff got far fewer of equality jobs in the Council. Haringey did not give a breakdown of part time staff where many Irish women worked in social care. 

Thus, discrimination in employment was a huge factor in the life of Irish people in London where they were denied equal access to quality jobs even in the public sector. The Irish were in effect paying taxes to people who were openly discriminating against them. That had to change.

The Irish World covered it with IBRG Blast London Job Discrimination. The Irish News covered it with Haringey Menial Jobs for the Irish.

First National NALGO Irish Workers Conference

On 26th September the first National Nalgo Irish workers conference took place in Birmingham, probably the first ever conference of Irish workers within a British union. The Irish World covered it with First National Conference for NALGO Irish workers to be held in Birmingham with a photo of Pat Reynolds their PRO.

The Group now had contact in 30 different areas of the country which covered some 20 NALGO branches in London, and across Britain with active groups in Brent, Lambeth Southwark and other areas. In a later edition it had NALGO Irish conference Breakthrough in Midlands.

 Diarmuid Breatnach was elected Runai along with Natalie Mills from Bolton, Pat Reynolds Membership secretary. Pat Reynolds with his experience of setting up groups in Brent, Lambeth and Southwark led a workshop of how to set up a local Irish group within the Union, while Diarmuid Breatnach gave advice of how to get Irish speakers for your event. Two motions were passed one for self-recognition for Irish workers in the Union and the second motion on Irish self-determination.

On 19th September Pat Reynolds IBRG had responded to a letter in the Irish Post attacking NALGO Irish workers for seeking equal rights within the Union, and the latter had also attempted to smear IBRG who fully supported the right of Irish workers in Britain to self-identify, and to organise as a distinct group within their trade unions.

On 9th September in Southwark Pat Reynolds, now Irish Policy Officer there, set up the Irish Staff Association to represent all Irish staff working in the council at Southwark Town Hall A number of IBRG members were part of this group, Maire Stedman, Pat Reynolds, John Carty, Steve Brennan while Cllr Jodie Clark. IBRG wished the group well.

 The Irish Post covered it with a large photo of 12 staff who attended the first meeting including Steve Brennan, John Carty, Maire Stedman and Pat Reynolds all IBRG members. John Carty was elected Chair, and Steve Brennan Publicity officer. The Irish World had Southwark Irish worker Unite had separate photos of Pat Reynolds and Cllr Jodie Clark who described the setting up of the group as a positive move. Some 45 staff members had joined the group which was across unions.

In September the IBRG complained to Channel Four over its showing of the All Irelands Finals at 2AM in the morning. On 13th October Channel Four replied to IBRG on the matter, and said the 2Am showing was due to Football Italia.

The IBRG also complained to the BBC over their voice over of Bernadette MacAliskey. On 1st October the BBC replied on behalf of the Director General to state ‘It is a matter of record that the BBC objected to the imposition of the N. Ireland Notice when it became law, and that it continues to object. Repeatedly we make representations about it.’ They went on to argue that they had to sub title or voice over any contributor whose words support or solicit or invite support for any organisations in the Notice. A person does not have to be a member of a proscribed organisation to fall foul of this injunction. They also addressed Irish representation in the audience for the program and the discussion on racist anti-Irish jokes

The IBRG took issue with the Reject Shop in Tottenham Court Road in London West End over their selling of racist anti-Irish materials including racist Irish joke books published by Maxwell.

On 10th October IBRG members attended the opening of the Lewisham Irish centre. Lewisham IBRG played a key role in getting the centre off the ground with Diarmuid Breatnach and Theresa Burke playing key roles. It was a big step forward for the Irish community in Lewisham to have their own centre where their Sean chairde club could meet, and where they could put on Irish cultural events and hold meetings. The IBRG invite read from John O’Shea Mayor of Lewisham ‘You are cordially invited to the opening of the Lewisham Irish centre on Saturday 10th October 1992. The Lewisham Irish centre is set to be a focus of the Lewisham Irish community. It is the culmination of a great deal of effort and the realisation of dreams of a group of people who would be delighted if you are able to be present to celebrate this opening’.

On 15th October the London Evening Standard had an article attacking IBRG and linking IBRG with Sinn Fein. The same day the IBRG issued a Press Statement Condemning the London Evening Standard Propaganda which was covered by the Irish Post. The Standard stated two other significant pro Sinn Fein groups have offices at Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, and the St Patricks Day March for Justice and Freedom. Troops Out who were also mentioned in the article were taking legal advice about the article. The Standard had included IBRG in its so-called extreme groups including TOM and ANC.

IBRG condemned the attack on Irish and Black solidarity groups and stated that the Standard was deeply embedded in the colonial white man’s burden, and overreached itself in trying to place guilt by association.  The Standard is right wing and pro Unionist is an anti-Irish propaganda paper which censors Irish issues, and distorts the real story of Ireland and her people. The Standard had a long track record of attacking the Irish community including the Jak cartoons upon which Ken Livingstone and the GLC, withdrew all advertising for the Standard because of their anti-Irish racism.

On 16th October IBRG members in London joined others in picketing the Standard over their attack on Irish solidarity groups in London including IBRG and TOM.

On 20th October Pat Reynolds, Andy Parr and Billy Power of the Birmingham 6 set up the Frank Johnson campaign. Frank spent over 27 years in prison, the same length as Mandela, another  innocent man. See leaflet below.

On 21st October IBRG members with their banner took part in a huge march and rally for the Miners in London.

 

On 24th October the IBRG Comhcomharle took place at the Sparkhill Cultural centre in Birmingham with six branches represented. They were Coventry, Haringey, Birmingham, Manchester, Lewisham, and Hackney/Camden. Eight delegates attended including Maurice Moore, Peter Skerrett, Majella Crehan, Pat Reynolds, Kevin Hayes, Bernadette Hyland, Diarmuid Breatnach and Virginia Moyles.

Apologies Joe Mullarkey, Neil Doolin.

Diarmuid Breatnach led a workshop on trade unions, and talked about Irish work in trade unions on issues such as the Birmingham six, TOA, strip searching, Irish unity, construction safety, TULINK, Nalgo Network on Ireland, NALGO Irish workers groups,  employment discrimination, along with links with trade Unions in N. Ireland.

 Virginia Moyles led a workshop on Travellers, and Pat Reynolds led a workshop on social services.

There was a motion from Manchester IBRG that IBRG recognises that abortion is a civil rights issue for Irish women, and calls on the Women’s Officer to send a message of solidarity to the campaign in Ireland with an offer to circulate their information to our branches in Britain. The motion was agreed.

On 25th November IBRG members attended the annual Terence MacSwiney Mass at Southwark Cathedral.

On 18th October the IBRG issued a press statement welcoming the decision of the National Association of Citizen Advise Bureaux (NACAB) at their AGM at York University to approve a motion to take action against anti-Irish racism.

The motion gave recognition to the disadvantaged position of the Irish community in Britain, and committed the association to combating racism against Irish people  as part of its anti-racist policy, and recommended that CAB amended its ethnic monitoring categories to include the Irish.

Lewisham IBRG organised an Irish children’s  Halloween party at the end of October which got a couple of photos in the Irish Post.

IBRG members attended the Birmingham Irish Consultative Conference on 1st November at which Pat Reynolds IBRG spoke on anti-Irish racism in the media, with Kevin Hayes speaking on the PTA. This was an important conference to put Irish needs on the map in Britain’s second largest city and one of the largest local authorities  in Britain with a huge Irish population.

Over  many years the Birmingham Irish took a huge blow from the IRA pub bombings of 1974, not just with the framed prisoners, but with community relations in Birmingham driven by a right-wing Tory Press. Both Pat Reynolds and Kevin Hayes had been involved in attending some pre meetings in planning for the Conference which was put on by the Birmingham Race Equality Unit

On 12th November Pat Reynolds was speaking a public meeting on Frank Johnson at the Camden Irish centre.

On 15th November the Southwark Irish Forum and the Irish Staff Group issued a statement after a report on Issues facing the Irish community in Southwark went to the Councils Social Services committee. The Southwark Irish Forum, the Irish staff group and the new Irish Policy Officer had not been consulted on the report, which found only two Irish foster carers in Southwark, and that 57% of staff in social services were Home Helps. The Southwark Irish Forum demanded a meeting with the Director of Social Services to discuss the issue and to find out what his department intended to do to address issues affecting the Irish community in Southwark.

On 25th November there was a General Election In Ireland with the Labour Party doubling its vote.

The 5th annual Irish Film Festival took place in Manchester from 5-19th November with Manchester IBRG involved in putting it on. Films like the Commitments, the Quiet Man, the Informer, the Ballroom of Romance and a film documentary of Dr Noel Browne were shown.

IBRG sponsored the Manchester Martyrs commemoration in Manchester where Diarmuid Breatnach IBRG was one of the speakers along with Fr Des Wilson from West Belfast. About 350 people were on the march and the IBRG had their banner there.

 

The IBRG condemned the remarks of Kilroy Silk in the Daily Express on 9th November as racist and offensive. . Kilroy remarked on 9th November in talking about EC farm commissioner Ray MacSharry who was negotiating with the USA over trade. ‘This is what being a part of the EU actually signifies in practice. It means that Britain’s interests abroad will be represented by a redundant second-rate politician from a country peopled by peasants, priests and pixies.’

On 10th November the Irish Ambassador Joe Small had a letter in the Daily Express in which he stated that the Kilroy Column had produced an unprecedented number of calls to the Irish Embassy, conveying their sense of outrage at the sentiments expressed. Mr Kilroy-Silk is perfectly entitled to express his misgivings about Britain’s membership of the European community. That constitutes fair comment. But to descent to what can only be described as gratuitously offensive and indeed racist remarks goes far beyond fair comments and in unacceptable’.

This was the first time that the Irish Embassy had responded publicly to anti-Irish racism in the media, and in this case called it what it was, a new and welcome departure.

The IBRG in a Press release on 10th November stated ‘His view and deep prejudice reflect a Victorian colonial outlook,  that imagines everything English to be naturally superior to everyone else. The IBRG were concerned that such a public figure with a BBC public debate show should hold such racist views, and calls on the BBC to look at this matter. The Daily Express on the same day as they published the Irish Ambassador letter had a generic description of Ulster as ‘the place where they will enter the home of a young woman and beat her to death with a baseball bat’.

On 5th December Diarmuid Breatnach had a letter in the Irish Post to congratulate Joe Small, the Irish Ambassador, for protesting at Kilroy-Silk racist remarks in the Daily Express. Diarmuid gave a history of how long IBRG had complained about the lack of action at the Embassy on many Irish issues.  The heading of the letters was Signs of life creeping in at Grosvenor Place with a photo of the Irish Ambassador.

IBRG put in a submission to the DOE in November calling for the 1968 Caravan Sites Act to be retained. Over 20% of Travellers in Britain were Irish. In their submission the IBRG argued that government proposals were racist, and an attempt at forced resettlement for Travellers and a criminalisation of their way of life. The IBRG called for the 1968 Act to be retained with its duty on local authorities to provide sites. The IBRG had led the Irish community response to the consultation and had persuaded a number of councils to support their position. On 13th November the DOE replied to the IBRG to say all the responses received will be taken into consideration and Ministers will announce their conclusions about the way forward in due course.

A row blew up in Brent at Arus na Gael in Brent where Frank Harington was expelled as a member of the management committee there, and a letter signed by a number of Irish language activists in London was published in the Irish World. The internal rows at the Brent Irish Centre would run on for many years.

On 3rd December two IRA bombs in Manchester cost over £3m,  injured a number of people and led to a media inspired backlash against the Irish community in Britain. The Irish Post reported it as Manchester Irish Anger with Kevin McNamara coming out with the usual platitudes, and nothing about the need for a political solution. An Irish born Mayor of Trafford again came out with the usual.

 Only Bernadette Hyland offered an analysis of what had happened because of the war in Ireland  and the need to work out a political solution. Liam McNally new Chair of the Federation of Irish Societies was interviewed on TV and came out with the usual one-sided condemnation of the IRA, but nothing about Bloody Sunday or shoot to kill policy.

On 5th December the Ard Choiste was held at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in Islington North London. Seven delegates attended including Pat Reynolds, Neil Doolin,  Majella Crehan, Diarmuid Breatnach,  Virginia Moyles, Tom Fitzsimons, and Maurice Moore.

The meeting decided to affiliate to the Danny McNamee campaign, and to give £20. Diarmuid reported back from his NALGO sponsored trip to Kurdistan.  Among the issues discussed were An Pobal Eirithe, the PTA, Prisoners, Nalgo Irish workers group, Initiative 92, review of IBRG, Border Controls, Travellers, and the Manchester Martyrs rally. 

The meeting decided to donate £100 to the Bloody Sunday March and to make a submission to Initiative 92 in Ireland. Diarmuid reported back from Manchester Martyrs rally where he had spoken with Des Wilson, and that members had attended from Lewisham, Manchester, Bolton, and NE Lancs. 

The British Government were now willing to return  Irish prisoners from N. Ireland back there, which they could always have done anyway. Pat Reynolds had been to see Frank Johnson at Swalesside Prison in Kent and had spoken at a public meeting on the case.

On 16th December Sir Patrick Mayhew N. Irish Secretary stated that British soldiers could be withdrawn from the streets and that Sinn Fein could be included in future talks if the IRA ends its campaign. The IRA had a three-day ceasefire over Christmas.

 

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

 

About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. .If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
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