Irish Association


18th January 2014

This is the fourth opportunity I have had as president of the Irish Association to report to the membership at our Annual General Meeting. How time flies.

We have continued with our series of Dublin Lunches organised by our Hon. Treasurer Dr. Donal O'Tierney. While these Lunches have been a means of continuing the interest in the south in the work of the Irish Association, they have attracted members from the north who travel down for the occasion.

We have had a wide variety of speakers, such as Tommy Graham Editor "History Ireland", Frank Feighan TD, Member of British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Linda Ervine, Irish Language Development Officer for East Belfast and Bruce Arnold - An Englishman working in Irish Journalism. Our traditional St. Patrick's Day Lunch was addressed by Gabrielle Moseley, the Acting U.S. Consul General.

As President I have represented the Association by addressing students at a West Dublin School 'Hedge School', at the 'The Gathering' in Dun Laoghaire on the issue of Flags and Emblems as well as a 'Hedge School' I also attended the British /Irish Conference in Cambridge.

More recently I represented the Association at the launch of the digitisation of Ireland's World War 1 Memorial Records, on 10 January

A more recent innovation of the Association has been joint ventures. We have shared with "History Ireland" in "Hedge Schools". A well supported evening in the Royal College of Physicians on 16 May, was followed by an equally well supported venture in Belfast City Hall 10 December.

The highlight by a long way was our 75th Anniversary Black Tie Dinner addressed by The Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Mr Eamon Gilmore T.D. Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. I would want to place on record our indebtedness to all who helped with this event particularly Alan Burnside who bore the brunt of the organising.

There is an increased interest in the work of the Irish Association - this sadly may be attributed to the 'Solved but not Settled' state of affairs in Northern Ireland. However, as I stated at the Anniversary Dinner, this Association was in the forefront of north/south/east/west relations:

The three stands of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 had their origin - not in the corridors of power at Westminster or the Dail - but in a Leaflet produced by this Association in 1938.
The vision of our founders is still our vision today. It is encouraging to see that strands two and three - that is relationships between - The people of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and - The people of Great Britain and Ireland have never been better.
It is strand one identified as far back as 1938 which still eludes us - that is - relationships within Northern Ireland.
It is the blight of sectarianism which still confronts us on a daily basis. This is the unfinished business of the Belfast Agreement - and of the first aim of the Irish Association.

I want to pay tribute to our Hon. Treasurer, Dr. Donal O'Tierney and his family for all their hard work and enthusiasm for the Association. Also to our Hon. Secretary Dermot O'Doherty, for his commitment and efficiency and who along with Pauline Murphy has been venturing along that rocky road of 'funding'

We need to do things differently in the modern world. We need new members of a younger generation. I am please to say that the Council are not 'stuck in the past' but continue to look at ways of advancing the aims of the Association by joining with others in the common cause.

Rev Brian Kennaway

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