Wherever you live in the world, if you look into your local history, you’ll find Irish men and women that have played a part in society. In Los Angeles for example few people will have not heard the name William Mulholland (Irishman and self-taught engineer) Chief Architect of the Owens Valley aqueduct .
Irish people hold a certain respect in the US for sure and they’re starting to in Britain, although for many years, this was far from the truth!
My Grandfather; James, Anthony, Martin, Blunden. Was a Waterford man who joined Michael Collins in the fight for independence from Britain, he was one of Collins’ volunteers. But he grew tired of the bloodshed and ran away to London. He never went back to Ireland for fear of his life and, like many any Irishman, was fond of the drink.
He was a chef, but had also worked as a silver-service waiter, waiting on the likes of (ironically enough) Winston Churchill in the famous Ritz hotel. But he had to suffer a certain amount of persecution as an Irishman in London and was often stopped by the police, especially while on the way to and from work, carrying his chef’s knives.
The persecution of the Irish grew to a pinnacle in the 70’s and 80’s during the IRA’s terrorist activities trying to make Northern Ireland (part of Britain) part of the republic of Ireland.
All Irish people living in Britain were seen as terrorists and looked down upon at the very least. Persecuted and subjected to racial hatred at worst (The “Gulford 4” and Mcguire 7” where innocent Irishmen accused and convicted of the Guilford pub bombings of the 1970s. They were later released after serving several years in prison when their convictions were seen as; “unsafe and unsatisfactory”)
Some Irish people still harbour a small amount of animosity towards the British, but surprisingly the British have moved on from their hatred and fear of the Irish and now welcome them with open arms.
And this is the moral of the story. Irish and British people get along quite well. Ireland is Britain’s biggest export with £8,000,000,000 worth of trade each year and the Irish accent can be spotted all over prime-time British TV. Ireland and Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and the province of Northern Ireland) have become close friends
There’s a lot to be learnt from this I feel, as we’re constantly bombarded with the idea of terrorists and “the war on terror”. It was, to a certain extent, then Prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to enter into peace talks with the IRA that caused their frustrations . It’s also interesting to note that she also considered Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist and a threat, even though she happened to be quite close to Chiléann dictator Augusto Pinochet.
It would be good to remember this every time there is some kind of fear or hatred to Islam or the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The vast majority of the people are normal, innocent, hard-working people, just like you or I. Just because some take matters into their own hands and make the mistake of turning to violence, it doesn’t mean they all do.
As for Ireland’s story The recent visit this year by Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, shows just how far we’ve come.