OVER the past week we have seen Irish America bring something back home that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Dignity.
President Joe Biden’s visit was indeed the homecoming he had hoped for. For the island of Ireland it was a new chapter in the experience of Irish emigration, once treated as embarrassing exile. His informed and committed speeches resonated across our country, North and South.
From Belfast to Ballina, it's been a memorable week for US President Joe Biden who came "home" to Ireland | https://t.co/L6nOqSfPfZ pic.twitter.com/jIiyLym1sk— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 14, 2023
Despite the intentional discomfort and shabby treatment created for President’s Biden’s Northern speech, he gave us all his commitment and outstretched hand. He wants all of our citizens to be treated with equality and dignity. That he did not cancel the northern part of the visit after being treated so disgracefully speaks to that ongoing dedication.
Irish history is so woven with the experience of emigration that we have integrated the word diaspora into our lexicon in a way no other country has. Political, economic and social exile to America, Australia and England, and more, means Irish citizens are truly found in every corner of the planet.
In recent social referenda these sons and daughters have come home to vote in referenda to change the look of some of modern Ireland. They booked planes, trains and automobiles to vote for equal marriage and safe healthcare, rejecting the old fascism that had sent many of them away seeking more tolerant societies.
In our peace process Ireland has had strong international allies. Europe’s support in hard cash for the Special Peace Programmes has been essential, consistent and has made significant difference. It was the goodwill toward our country engendered by the Irish men and women that populate the European offices that undoubtedly ensured that minds and hearts were open to these necessary initiatives. That England’s Brexit has rejected this is nothing short of a sin.
But still our extended nation builds bridges of friendship and solidarity.
Friends from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians come to Ireland every year to learn more about our peace process and the outstanding issues yet to be implemented. The issue of legacy has benefited from the microscope they have placed on Britain’s Legacy Bill. There are third generation Hibernian men and women in Cleveland, Albany, Trenton and the Bronx who can engage with the intricacies of the inquests and civil cases in a more informed way than many living in Carlow, Arklow, Tramore or Ballyhaunis.
hey have organised a lobby which has seen Congressional hearings, US representatives signing letters of concern on the impact of the legacy legislation on the Good Friday Agreement, and US State Department briefings. The British Government’s representatives often expect a tougher time in Washington on accountability for their GFA-damaging actions, than they do in Dublin.
My cartoon Thursday @TheTimes. Where the emphasis of Blarney Biden’s visit lies. `#JoeBiden #Ireland pic.twitter.com/EP1YFP3w2W— Peter Brookes (@BrookesTimes) April 13, 2023
Britain and others try to create an insulting and racist caricature of the Irish – especially those who live abroad. Disgusting cartoons appeared of President Biden in the London Times, which had he been of any other ethnicity would have created a diplomatic crisis. The term 'Plastic Paddy' is designed to create a myth that the concern for our nation is based in alcohol-fuelled nostalgia and not on logic or fact.
It is convenient propaganda which is far from the truth. Our global nation is unstoppably committed to a modern, democratic Ireland based on equality and human rights. It crosses land and generations. And there is nothing plastic about it.