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Event on Irish in UK post-Brexit to be held next month

Irish flag being flown at a Brexit protest outside Westminster last month.

The umbrella group for Irish organisations in this country, Irish in Britain, is to hold a special Brexit conference next month.

The half-day symposium, Brexit through the Green: Interpretation, Identity and Irishness, will be held at Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, Islington, London N7 6PA between 1pm-5.30pm on Saturday 13 July.

It will include presentations and a panel discussion and explore the implications of Brexit for Irish people and for the wider migrant community in this country.

The panel of speakers, chaired by CEO of the Refugee Council Maurice Wren, will include: Vikki Barry Brown, doctoral researcher at Queen Mary University of London; Pádraig Belton, journalist and writer based in Dublin and London; Bill Corcoran, volunteer with the Tyneside Irish Cultural Society; Emma DeSouza, immigration and citizens’ rights campaigner based in Belfast; Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement; and Bernard Ryan, Professor of Migration Law at the University of Leicester.

UK Irish emigrants happier

“The vote to leave the EU has shaken many securities that Irish citizens in Britain had taken for granted,” said the organisation’s CEO Brian Dalton.

“It is vital that in the current political atmosphere the Irish community in Britain can contribute, inform a shared understanding and help shape the debate.

“This event will showcase voices from diverse Irish constituencies to reflect on what it means to be Irish in Britain after Brexit.”

Mr Dalton, and Irish in Britain, acknowledged that the recent Memorandum of Understanding on the Common Travel Area means “the fundamental rights of the Irish in Britain appear to be protected in Brexit scenarios”.

But pro-Brexit news outlets had recently taken to trying to whip up sentiment against the Irish Government while, at the same time, political cooperation in Northern Ireland has stalled.

All this, he said, had led to many people in the Irish community having a sense, once more, of being ‘othered’.

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Most Irish people in Britain – and a significant majority in Northern Ireland – voted in favour of remaining in the EU in 2016, he pointed out.

Emma De Souza and her husband Jake

Nevertheless, he stressed, some Irish people in Britain – a sizeable proportion – did vote to leave. It is, therefore, necessary to explore the issues arising.

He pointed out that Irish in Britain itself is neutral beyond voicing its support for maintaining the Good Friday Agreement, maintaining close British-Irish cooperation, and urging Irish people in Britain to vote and ensure their voices are heard.

Like Professor Bernard Ryan, Irish citizenship campaigner Emma DeSouza has featured regularly in the Irish World.

She said of the symposium: “Just what does it mean to be Irish in Britain post-Brexit? This is a question that I’m delighted to be exploring at this important event on the impact of Brexit on Irish citizens across the country.”

Tickets, £10 each, are available through Eventbrite.

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