10 December 2009 Edition

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Pat Doherty meets Irish in Britain

PAT DOHERTY, Sinn Féin MP for West Tyrone, was in London last week, visiting some of the city’s many Irish community projects to get updated on their important work.
At the Hammersmith Cultural Centre, he heard about the work currently being done in the centre, and had a discussion with Caitríona Casey, chair of the London St Patrick’s Day Committee, about plans for next year’s parade. Much of the group’s work will be to access funding, following the slashing of the previous budget by Boris Johnson’s new Mayoral administration.
Doherty urged all groups and businesses in a position to help, to step forward and make sure that the traditional event in London, established as a major city-wide event under Ken Livingstone, remains as successful as previous years. He called on agencies such as Tourism Ireland, who have helped support the event in the past, to be pro-active in supporting it again next year.
Next he visited Luton Irish Forum, to meet and address the many local residents who came along. Accents from Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and many other counties could be heard reminiscing and asking about old friends and neighbours, and in many cases enquiring about recent events in the political process at home.
As in London, these groups receive funding from the Irish Government’s Dion fund, to help them keep going, but all are nervous at any prospect of a cut to that funding next year, and Pat pledged to work with our representatives in the Oireachtas – our TDs’ and Senator – to fight for the current allocations to be maintained.
The final call of the day was to Cricklewood, to the Cricklewood Homeless Concern centre.
Accompanied by Sean Oliver and Jayne Fisher from Sinn Féin, Pat was guided around the state-of -the-art centre by co-ordinator Charlotte Curran, in what was a fascinating view into the work which the CHC does, working with some of the most marginalised sections of the Irish in west London. They were extremely impressed at both the ethos of the centre, and in particular at how the layout and design of the building have been developed to fit in with a very clear strategy of both help and empowerment of those who cross its doors.
This extremely useful day culminated with the Sinn Féin delegation attending the annual seasonal press party hosted by the Irish Ambassador in London, Bobby McDonagh.

This week further details were announced of a conference to be held in London on 20 February next year, initiated by Sinn Féin, to open a discussion on the issue of Irish unity. The conference will involve a wide spectrum of opinions from individuals and organisations on a number of aspects and takes place at TUC Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS, from 10am-5pm. The conference will discuss a number of topics with seminars and plenary sessions, including the significance of the Good Friday Agreement’s recognition of Irish self-determination, which has a commitment to Irish unity should a majority back it. The political, economic, social and demographic factors will be discussed in the conference, and why a likelihood of Irish unity means that a serious discussion should begin now.
The future relationship between Britain and Ireland, the economic crisis and the economic merits of a united Ireland, opening a dialogue with unionism and the role and rise of the Irish in Britain will also be key topics of discussion. Initial speakers for the conference include Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Ken Livingstone, Unite’s Jimmy Kelly, Lord Paul Bew, Professor Mary Hickman, Dr Christine Kinneally, Diane Abbott MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kevin McNamara, Patricia McKeown of Unison, Stephen Hepburn MP, Andy Pollak, Lord Dubs and many others to be confirmed. Registration is £8 waged and £4 unwaged, from London Irish Unity conference, PO Box 65845, London EC1P 1LS. Please give full name, address and email and make cheques payable to `London Irish Unity Conference’. For further queries, email [email protected]éin.ie

Pat Doherty at the Luton Irish Forum 


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