By Dawn Butler, Labour Member of Parliament for Brent Central.
I would like to wish everyone in Brent and beyond a very happy St Patrick’s Day.
This is an important and fun celebration and I for one am going to have a really great time, as I always do with all my friends singing wonderful Irish songs that go on for hours and hours!
There are a whole host of events taking place which I know people will enjoy – including, but not limited to, the “Shamrock Sessions” at Boxpark Wembley. And I know the pubs will be full up too. I will be doing my part as I always do, wearing green and having my annual pint of Guinness!
But this occasion also has very serious meaning for me. Everyone will remember – or remember being told about – the horrific ‘No Irish, no blacks, no dogs’ signs that scared so many people.
For that reason, I have always felt that the West Indian community and the Irish community have a shared history – we both know what it is like to experience disgusting racism and discrimination.
That means we also have an important shared purpose, which is to work together to eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination and to make sure that everyone feels welcome in society.
In Brent, our diversity is our strength. And we make a point of celebrating it. We are one of the most diverse Borough’s not just in the UK but in Europe too.
As a woman of Jamaican heritage, I’m extremely proud that in Brent we have the largest Jamaican community in the UK, but I’m also very lucky to be able to represent a large Irish community too.
I really enjoy seeing our diverse community coming together to celebrate occasions like this. But as we do so, I will be using this occasion to remind people that we should fight for the rights of everyone, no matter their background, as if they were our own. Because as all those old racist signs outside pubs show, all our diverse communities are in it together.
So have fun, be happy together, enjoy a drink (responsibly!) and have a wonderful St Patrick’s Day.