London celebrations

Keir Starmer reflects on Anglo-Irish relations at the London Irish Center

Labor Party LEADER Keir Starmer said relations between Ireland and the UK had a “long and rich history”, from which lessons can be learned about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at the London Irish Center in Camden at an event hosted by the Labor Party Irish Society on Monday morning, Starmer said that despite Brexit’s “twists”, its fallout and the ongoing Northern Ireland Protocol problem, the two countries maintain a close and important partnership.

He said the two governments must be co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, and that “that relationship requires respect and understanding of what it means to be a country and to have that status.”

“As we reflect on this relationship, I think it tells us something about what is happening in the world, especially in Ukraine,” he continued. “At the heart of the conflict in Ukraine is one simple thing: a country’s desire to decide for itself its own future. To decide for himself which alliances he will have. This is the sovereignty of Ukraine.

“I remember what it was like when the Berlin Wall came down and the hope and optimism that we were moving towards a better future. The images now, I think, touch us so much because I never thought not in my lifetime would I see a Russian tank rolling around in a European country.

He also spoke of the five years he spent living and working in Northern Ireland, and said it was a privilege to implement parts of the GFA.

“Those were some of the most uplifting years of my professional life because there was so much progress and change going on. You could see it, smell it, and smell it,” he said.

Starmer also praised the work of the London Irish Centre, located in his constituency of Holborn and St Pancras.

“It’s a special place, and for me it’s really like a second home,” he said. “There are so many things that I have done and enjoyed here. It is a center that is used for the community day in and day out.

“It was during Covid that although the center was not open in the usual way, it remained open and never closed even though that access was online. As soon as it was possible to do so, the cafe was opened for people to even just walk in and chat.I would like to salute the staff here who did such a brilliant job.

Also present at the event, which was themed ‘Celebrating and strengthening relationships across these islands’, was Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill, who recognized the work of the center and the significance of the impact of the Irish people on the UK and London. society.

“The significance of this event is that we are all reconnecting after two years of not being able to meet in person, and we seem to be blessed at this time that we have three Irish Mayors in the City of London,” said he declared. , referring to Troy Gallagher of Donegal, Mayor of Islington, Vincent Keaveny of Dublin, Mayor of the City of London, and Adam Jogee, Mayor of Haringey whose grandmother is from Co Down.

Ambassador O’Neill marched past the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday and paid tribute to Natalia Lesyuk, a Ukrainian who has lived in London for 30 years and who was chosen as Grand Marshal.

Mike O’Connor, vice-president of the London Irish Centre, also explained how the center wants Irish people and their descendants in the city to “understand and feel connected to Irish culture, identities and history”.

“We want Irish people in London and the wider community, not just Irish people, to have access to modern Irish culture and arts in all its diversity, not just older Irish culture,” he said. he declares.

Other speakers included Conor McGinn from Armagh who has been MP for St Helens North since 2015, Noelette Hanley, chief executive of the Luton Irish Forum and Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress.

Guests in attendance included Brian Dalton, CEO of Irish in Britain, Peter Power-Hynes, President of the Irish Cultural Centre, Catherine Hennessy, CEO of Immigrant Counseling Services, and Dermot Skinnader, The Ireland Funds GB Young Leaders.

On Monday evening, the Labor Party Irish Society also held a reception at Angel which had the theme ‘Celebrating a new generation – London’s Irish leaders in local government’.