Seanad debates

Thursday, 14 March 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Aodhán Ó RíordáinAodhán Ó Ríordáin (Labour) | Oireachtas source

As the Taoiseach hands Donald Trump a bowl of shamrock today to mark St. Patrick's Day, we must remember that the Irish in America are immigrants. We have a history of emigration. Many people left this land on coffin ships or because of sectarian strife, unemployment or poverty. There are Irish people all over the world, including, of course, in America. On St. Patrick's Day, we should remember immigrants everywhere. In that regard, we should remind Irish Americans in particular that the Irish went through exactly the same situation that immigrants in America are going through today. They suffered the same type of discrimination and religious bias. In effect, immigrants today travel on the same coffin ships. When the Irish went to America, people tried to put up walls against them. It is hypocritical for any Irish American - Republican or Democrat - to wear the green on St. Patrick's Day and also support Donald Trump and his xenophobic, racist policies. There will be a gathering at the Famine memorial at 3 o'clock on St. Patrick's Day to pay tribute to immigrants everywhere and to restate our historical and moral responsibility, as Irish people standing between what I would call the racist lie of Brexit and the racist liar, Trump, to stand for something more profound and decent than what is happening in the UK and the USA at this time. I encourage as many people as possible to attend and take an Irish stand against racism.

On what has been stated about today's decision in regard to Bloody Sunday, it is a very emotional day for everybody in this country. Obviously, it is extremely emotional for the people of Derry. It should send a reminder to those in Britain and the British Parliament as to why the issue of Brexit and the Border is so important. The hands of various British Governments are all over what happened in this land for many generations. They were big players in the hurt, pain, violence, murder and bloodshed. The current British Parliament needs to understand that it is part of repairing that. Any British politician who accuses anybody over here of playing games or using the Border as a tool does not understand the hurt, pain, loss and suffering that has taken place in this land over the past 40 or 50 years. I ask MPs on any side of the House of Commons to use this day, as the people in Derry reflect, to reflect on what happened in this land over those 40 or 50 years and to understand why Brexit is such an important issue here and that the return of a hard border is unconscionable to all those who call themselves Irish. They should reflect on the people of Derry. It is important to be calm and compassionate regarding today's decision to charge one individual. However, we must remind those in Britain that this is not a game; it is life and death. It is much more important than the games that are being played in the House of Commons at the moment.


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