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Irish inBritain Community / Culture / Sport / Business

We’re inspired – are you? New path for GAA

Photo: Gavin Freeborn

Irish community needs – new research published

Issue 2 July-Oct 2012


Contents Welcome Welcome 2 Irish in Brief 3 FIS News 4-5 Irish in Depth 6-7 Ireland Inspires 8-9 Irish in Business 10 Irish Voice 11 Irish in Conversation 12 Irish Individuals 13 Irish in Sport 14-15


he Olympic Torch Relay has been in almost every town and city in Britain and we are proud to see Irish torch bearers raising the profile of their charity work and their local Irish community. It’s all action across Britain over the coming months and at FIS we have been particularly busy in all our key areas of work, keeping the Irish on all agendas - be it culture, communications, health, wellbeing, equalities and business. Our diverse membership enriches our ideas, our debates and our many developments and we welcome all our new and renewing members this year.

This magazine is produced by: Federation of Irish Societies, 95 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF Phone: 0207 833 1226 Email: Web: Twitter: @irishinbritain Facebook page: Irish in Britain Registered charity number 1092268 Company Number: 4013148 The next edition will be published in November 2012. If you are interested in advertising or contributing to the next edition please contact Anna Franks ( no later than end of September 2012. Copyright statement: Opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of FIS and no responsibility is accepted for advertising content.

Whilst we are primarily focused on the experiences and aspirations of the Irish in Britain, as a community our ties to Ireland remain strong. GAA and Comhaltas in Ireland work hard to support activities here in Britain. The Irish in Britain are keen to support initiatives such as Derry-Londonderry 2013, the All-Ireland Fleadh, and the Gathering. Business links have always been key and in these difficult times are as important as ever. The new Manchester Irish World Heritage Centre demonstrates how Irish community organisations are working together with Irish businesses to showcase the best of Irish architecture and materials. We are always keen to make our voices heard and with the Irish constitutional convention currently underway we welcome your view so keep in touch and let us know what you think.

Jennie McShannon CEO, Federation of Irish Societies 2


Politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea have united to urge Irish state broadcaster RTÉ to re-think proposals to close its London bureau. At the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in May 2012 attendees agreed a Motion expressing concern over potential damage to British Irish relations and snub to the Irish community. The Federation continues to lead the campaign to lobby against the proposed closure.

Photo: Alex Coley





FIS applauds the historic handshake between the Queen and Martin McGuinness. The Queen’s visit to Ireland last year broke new ground in the relationship between Britain and Ireland. This handshake is another momentous step towards a real and lasting peace and reinforces the building of relationships amongst the different parties in Northern Ireland.

Congratulations to the Under 12-15 Céilí team from Bradford Irish Club that became British Champions at the recent All Britain Fleadh. The team will now go forward to Fleadh Cheoil na héireann in Cavan where they will then compete against the rest of the world. Patrick Howley, Chair of Bradford Irish Centre praised the team noting “They are really putting Bradford Irish Club on the World map!”

A substantial study researching the needs of the Irish community in London will be launched this summer by London Irish Centre in partnership with Federation of Irish Societies. With over 850 people contributing to the research the report aims to provide further evidence and understanding to inform support needs for the Irish community in London.

In May 2012 Dáil Éireann heard the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill for the second time. The bill sets out the Government’s plan to alter the way the state compensates survivors of institutional child-abuse. The proposed Fund would be €110m, paid by the 18 religious orders which managed the institutions. The Bill will now go to the Seanad for consideration.


Federation of Irish Societies

NEWS Photo: Lorcan Doherty Photography

FIS announce City of Culture partnership FIS and Culture Company 2013, the body delivering Derry-Londonderry’s City of Culture year, have formed a new partnership to involve the Irish in Britain in next year’s celebrations in northwest Ireland.

Almost 40…. 2013 marks the 40th anniversary since the launch of the FIS and as part of the plans to celebrate we are looking back over the history of the organisation. A researcher is currently collecting material from past members at FIS, and creating a small archive of papers, photographs and memorabilia. We are also interviewing individuals to capture their memories. If you have any photographs or memories of your involvement with FIS please get in contact with Ann Gould on 0207 833 1226 or email your memories and images to 4

Jennie McShannon, CEO of FIS noted: “We are delighted to be working with Derry-Londonderry 2013 during such an exciting and historic time for the city and this partnership comes at a timely point. With our extensive links across the diverse Irish community in Britain we will be really pushing the message that this is a cultural opportunity of a lifetime and one not to be missed. It also gives us an opportunity to profile our Reconciliation Project which will work with communities and arts organisations in Birmingham, Glasgow and Derry to celebrate the impact of the peace process on relationships between different cultures and communities.”

Support the Federation! In a time of cuts it is essential that we continue to explore new ways of funding our work to ensure our sustainability. In the run up to our 40th year we have launched a campaign to encourage individuals to donate to FIS. Your one donation will help us support over 100 Irish organisations working across the community providing welfare services, community centres, cultural activity and sports. We are suggesting a donation of £2 a month (£24 a year) – the price of a cup of tea and you will get a range of benefits including regular e-bulletins, this magazine delivered to your door and invites to special events. And don’t forget your donation goes a long way to supporting Irish groups across Britain! You can donate online at or call 0207 833 1226.

Irish Inclusion FIS is currently working on a significant piece of work investigating Irish inclusion in Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) - key strategic documents that inform the commissioning of local services relating to health and wellbeing. This piece of work will enable us to identify which areas in Britain lack consideration of Irish-specific needs in their JSNAs and work with them to encourage consideration of Irish specific issues in service planning.

Alternative Perspectives In July 2012 we ran a successful national conference in partnership with London Irish Centre, Voice4Change and The Afiya Trust. Following on from the conference we have agreed to work alongside leaders in race equality in Britain with regards to the Race Equality and Equality Delivery Systems agenda and will be taking this forward with urgency after the Government’s summer recess.

Irish Survivors in Britain – Website launch As part of a wider project funded by St. Stephen’s Green Trust, FIS has been working with Survivors groups across Britain to develop a national website. The website, which aims to benefit Survivors and inform service providers, goes live in July A series of events are being planned for the Autumn to bring together Survivors to share how local networks have enabled them to move forward and update people on the Statutory Fund. If you would like to attend these events or want to know more about the support groups please contact Helen White on 0121 622 4169 or email 5

IRISH IN DEPTH New path ahead for the GAA in Britain Séan Hackett, Vice-President of the British Provincial Council shares with us the new vision for the GAA in Britain….. 2012 can best be described as the year of change in the GAA.

A New Council In Ireland Liam O’Neill took over as the new President of the organisation beginning his three year term by becoming the first president to be elected unanimously. Ulster Council became twinned with Britain as our partner province replacing Connacht Council. At home here in Britain Paul Foley (Gloucestershire) became the new Central Council Delegate for Britain alongside John Lacey who represents London. Brendie Brien (London) was inaugurated as the new president of the GAA in Britain and Seán Hackett (Lancashire) became the new vice president.


2012 hasn’t just been about change of personnel it is also the year in which the GAA in Britain has launched its Five Year Strategic Review. The review sets out a new course for the GAA in Britain and it sets some ambitious milestones to be achieved by 2015. The GAA in Britain seek to replace the role of Provincial Secretary with a full time Director of Games. The Director of Games will not just take over the administrative tasks of the current secretary, Tadhg Meehan, but will also be responsible for ensuring the GAA in Britain implements the current Strategic Review Plan and charts a path for the GAA in Britain in the years ahead.

Working together For the first time the GAA in Britain is focusing on activities other than Men’s Football and Hurling. The review speaks of joining the Ladies Football, Camogie, Men’s Football and Hurling boards under one umbrella in the coming years. The GAA hope to develop the codes alongside each other and to obtain Sport England, Scotland and Wales accreditation which will open up a new forum of funding for the GAA. There is also mention of change to the current club structures so that all clubs become Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) so that the GAA can take advantage of Tax benefits and Gift Aid.

Developing our assets The Strategic Review also seeks to develop a business case for the use of the current GAA capital assets, mainly pitches for non-GAA activities, a step which breaks with the GAA’s long standing tradition of only using GAA grounds for GAA activities.

Photo: Finbar Gibbons

New wave of players The report addresses a number of issues, one of which is emigration. Emigration to Britain has been on the up since 2007 and the GAA clubs in Britain are seeing their club ranks swell. The report predicts that the new wave of emigrants will be the next generation of Irish who settle in Britain and their children will emerge as clubs underage players in fifteen to twenty years time. It is clear that considerable thought has been given to the path ahead for the GAA in the coming years and there is a clear sense of purpose in the Strategic Review which makes for exciting times ahead for the GAA in Britain. A copy of the Strategic Review and Report can be downloaded from the GAA website: If you want to keep up to date with the GAA in Britain follow on Twitter @BPCGAA or join their facebook page at British GAA. 7

Photo: Finbar Gibbons

Photo: Gavin Freeborn

I’m inspired, are you?

As July becomes August, supporters and fans right across Britain will be getting behind their Olympic and Paralympic teams and keeping their fingers crossed for a few gold medals as this ‘summer like no other’ happens across Britain. Whilst getting behind our Irish athletes will be at the forefront of our Ireland Inspires campaign this summer, the superstars this year won’t just be on the running track or in the boxing ring. The London Games have encouraged a nation to get creative and arts and cultural activities are happening in every town and city throughout 2012 - and the Irish are certainly playing their part! 8

Irish artists and performers have, for centuries, crossed the water to pursue their calling and develop their careers in Britain. From world renowned artists of the past such as Francis Bacon and Oscar Wilde, to iconic contemporary Irish designers Orla Kiely and Philip Treacy, right through to rising stars - Britain has always offered Irish creatives inspiration, provocation, chance and opportunity. 2012 has already been a fantastic year for Irish arts and culture in Britain. We had Irish performances on the biggest stages in the country, with a major retrospective of the playwright Tom Murphy at the Hampstead Theatre in London in June, Prodijig winning votes and hearts on Got To Dance, and Irish communities in Britain raising their voice through community events celebrating our contribution to the Olympic year. August and September brings us eight weeks packed full of Irish cultural activities to get involved with. From actress Fiona Shaw’s amazing nationwide Peacecamp 2012 project, to artist John Gerrard‘s, cinematic installation at Oxford’s Old Power Station - the Irish contribution is as artistic and as diverse as the diaspora itself! And it doesn’t end there. September will see Culture Night celebrated once again, with its London leg sure to impress as much as 2011. October will also be a huge month for Irish culture in Britain as the London Peace Proms will be performed by the Cross Border Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. The Orchestra will be joined by a 1,000 voice choir from schools right across Britain to be part

Photo: Alex Coley

of this unique celebration of worldwide peace and reconciliation. We’ll also be hosting some of our own inspiring events and we will be keeping you updated on all of these and more through our monthly e-bulletin, on our website and our Facebook and twitter pages! This year will be a unique chance to demonstrate just how much Ireland contributes to the creative and cultural life here, and to showcase Ireland as the source and inspiration for thousands of artists and performers living and working throughout Britain.

Get involved with the Ireland Inspires campaign Right throughout 2012 we will be supporting and celebrating Irish culture in lots of exciting ways right across our community and by getting on board with the campaign you can help us do that. Sign up to be the first to hear about updates from the Inspired team! Join us now at! If you’re running a cultural project let us know about it. Contact the Campaign Co-ordinator Fiona Smith, at 9



Ahe London Irish Business Society (LIBS) is a society established in December 2009 to provide a forum for Irish business professionals to network and share ideas.

We caught up with Vice Chair John Lagan to find out about the Society. John said, “The majority of our 2,500 members are based in London however it is open to all. The purpose of the society is to foster networking amongst the business community and this is facilitated by bringing members together by hosting topical events throughout the year.

The Society’s inaugural event featured a discussion of the ‘Potential Impacts of NAMA’ with Fine Gael Leader, T.D. Enda Kenny. LIBS most recent event featured a panel discussion on Ireland’s future with the Eurozone with the panel including George Lee, Vincent Boland, T.D. Stephen Donnelly and Joe Lynam. The Society is also running a series with Senior Irish Business Leaders and recent speakers have included Willie Walsh and Peter Sutherland. We have an exciting agenda of upcoming events in the Autumn and are continuing to look for new members. Membership is free and you can sign up online and the Society would be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions, or indeed if you have ideas for future events.” Visit the LIBS website today or if you have any questions email them to londonirishbusinesssociety@



ow do community leaders avoid getting squeezed off the agenda as elections loom and candidates battle it out along party lines? In the 2010 General Election, FIS drew up its own Irish community manifesto and selected target areas for Question Time debates where politicians could be quizzed by potential voters on where they stood. But when media coverage puts personalities over political debate it’s difficult for communities to get a hearing. In the recent London Mayoral battle FIS Chief Executive Jennie McShannon was determined for the Irish to have a say. In an open letter to all candidates she expressed both our pride and concerns about living in London. Identifying critical issues for the community, she challenged the candidates to put Irish arts and culture at the centre of London life; to collect and use Irish Census data to promote equality; to take an enlightened approach towards the plight of Gypsies and Travellers and commit to regular dialogue with the Irish community leaders.

Photo: Alessandro Costa

IRISH VOICE Martin Collins, FIS Parliamentary Officer

FIS was impressed by the responses of all candidates. “This has been a great success”, Jennie McShannon said, “but it isn’t just about London: We want the Irish to have a voice in political life in all the big cities and elections provide prime time audience. Don’t forget if you are a local group you can make your point to politicians during party conference season: • Liberal Democrats - 22-26 September, Brighton • Labour Party - 30 September 4 October, Manchester • Conservative Party - 8-11 October, Birmingham Also note the 45th plenary conference of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly will be held in Glasgow from 21-23 October. 11

IRISH IN Photo: Jenny Lindfors

CONVERSATION Jenny Lindfors is an Irish musician. She is about to embark on a tour across Britain so we caught up with her to find out more. When did you realise you wanted to make music your career? I really felt like I had no choice in becoming a musician. I have memories of feeling destined to step into that role around the age of three. As my craft progressed, I concluded that I simply had an artistic disposition all along, and to deny myself that would have meant that I would have been quite unhappy. Did being a musician have an influence on why you left Ireland? Absolutely. Having released my debut album ‘When the Night Time Comes’ independently in 2007 it attracted the attention of a London-based manager who began to book me as a support act on UK tours. The following year, the album was re-released in the UK, so I decided to move to London. 12

You are a part of the Seanchai Nua* collective, is it important to make this connection with other Irish artists? When I moved to London, I went through an almighty time of confusion. It was a bit of a culture shock. My journey through this naturally became a big part of the subject matter of new songs, and the idea of engaging and sharing with other artists having a similar experience was too good to pass up. Does being Irish in Britain inspire you? It really does now, but for a long time I felt very uninspired. When I first moved, I suffered from writers block but when I came through that initial adjustment phase, I felt able to then reflect and tell those stories of homesickness and isolation. For example ‘Bridge of Tears’ is about the day I left Ireland, by boat to Holyhead. That was four years ago, and I only had the strength to write about it at the beginning of this year! I also feel a much deeper love for my home and that is something I could never have felt while I lived there. I feel that I now have a story to tell. Listen to Jenny’s music and find out about up and coming tour dates at ‘Step to the right’ EP available now on iTunes.


INDIVIDUALS An Irish star... To abseil 185ft down the Hexagon Tower in Manchester at 70 years of age is not something everyone can claim but Cissy Breen from Co. Kerry is a special individual who has committed much of her life to supporting the Irish community within Manchester. Cissy was born in Co.Kerry but moved to Manchester in 1954. During her life in Britain Cissy has dedicated herself to helping others – not only through her charitable work but also in her profession as a child minder for 21 years with Salford Social Services. Alongside raising a family of 5 children Cissy has also been a foster carer and looked after people in the community.

Not only has Cissy given her time and energy to supporting charities but her fundraising has seen her raise much needed money for local charities. Her abseil raised £1200 for Bury Hospice and as Chairperson for the Kerry Association in Manchester they have raised over £35,000 for The Christie Cancer Hospital. At 74 Cissy still works part-time saying ‘it gets you out and meeting people’. Not many people like Cissy come along in a lifetime - but when they do, we, as a community, are proud to say she is part of the Irish community in Britain.

To hear Cissy talk about her work in the community is quite humbling. She does not seek praise but recognition has come her way with numerous awards including an award from the Council of County Associations in Manchester and most recently the Lord Mayor’s Citizens Award. 13

IRISH IN SPORT So Ireland may not have done as well as we hoped in Euro 2012 but with the Olympics and the AllIreland Championships coming up, it’s a bumper summer for Irish sport. This edition Finbar Gibbons takes a look back at some of the most memorable sporting moments in years gone by. Maybe you can add your own – email them to fsmith@

THE EUROS Let’s face it, due to our poor qualifying record, we haven’t got many instances of glory to pick out from European Championships. However, one which is up there with the greatest in any Irish sport is Ray Houghton’s winner against England at Euro ’88. Few expected Ireland to get anything out of the game but Ireland had some very good players in the likes of Houghton, Ronnie Whelan and Paul McGrath. And so it was, with one nudge of Houghton’s head, the Republic humbled their illustrious neighbours.

GAA Picking iconic moments from GAA competitions is tricky; with 32 counties involved, it tends to get challenging so we’ve picked one moment from recent history for each province.

Photo: Finbar Gibbons


From Ulster it’s hard to look beyond the ultimate underdog story; Armagh v Kerry in the 2002 All-Ireland SFC Final. Facing The Kingdom, 32-time champions at that point, many

Members of the Irish Paralympic team ready for this summers games thought that Armagh’s lack of ‘final experience’ might let them down. 2002 was to be different though with Armagh trailing by 4 points at half-time they roared back in the 55th minute when Oisin McConville crashed the ball passed Declan O’Keefe into the Kerry goal going onto claim victory.

couple of finals but have fallen well short, defeated heavily by Kerry on both occasions. 2011 was a good year for Mayo as they humbled All-Ireland Champions, Cork, after a stirring second-half performance. Alas, Kerry proved to be their nemesis once again in the next round, but beating Cork was a huge achievement for the Mayo men.

In Leinster it’s an easy choice: so long the butt of national jokes, so often ‘their year’, Dublin were sure to choke once more against Kerry in the 2011 football final. Having dragged themselves back into the match, Dublin won a free-kick in the second minute of injury-time. Without a hint of nerves Stephen Cluxton the Dublin goalkeeper stepped up, placed the ball on the ground, surveyed his target and rifled a sweet strike soaring through the posts towards a delirious Hill 16.

To Munster and to 2010. While Tipperary’s senior panel boasted an abundance of talent, in the AllIreland Final they faced the Kilkenny machine and the returning (King) Henry Shefflin. For The Cats, it was the chance to win five All-Ireland titles in a row - something which no county had ever done. Tipp had other ideas, blasting 4 goals past PJ Ryan.

Galway’s win in 2001 is the last time anyone from Connacht has won either Sam or Liam. Mayo have reached a

Some amazing sporting moments but watch this space for some more sporting highlights to come from the Olympics and Paralympics. Hopefully some Gold medals will be coming our way very soon! 15

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Irish in Britain - Issue 2  

Community - Culture - Sport - Business