The Irish ambassador to Britain has described our emigrants’ contribution to the country as “outstanding.”
Ambassador Daniel Mulhall was speaking at the unveiling of the ‘Forgotten Irish’ plaque in the London Irish Centre yesterday.
“This plaque recognises the outstanding contribution of post-war Irish emigrants to the rebuilding of Britain,” he said.
“We also remember the huge contribution they made to Ireland through remittances. The Irish government, responding to this sacrifice and the need for support to that generation as they grew older, initiated funding for that community in Britain.
“This support continues to this day including through the work of the London Irish Centre.”
A statement by the London Irish Centre said that the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who emigrated to the UK after the Second World War helped to rebuild a country “devastated” by war.
“These men and women were instrumental in rebuilding the city and providing the skills, energy and expertise to restart the economy in London,” said the statement. “They created a pathway for future generations of Irish who would make London their own.
“Many achieved success and prominence, but for others, their contribution has been forgotten and it is these people, who worked in the construction industry, in hospitals, catering, offices and schools, who are to be remembered in this ceremony.”
The plaque, entitled ‘The Forgotten Irish’, commemorates “that generation of post-World War II Irish emigrants both men and women, who left their homes, counties, and country”.
Other wording on the plaque reads: “They came to work and rebuild this city and country, ravaged and destroyed by war. Sometimes called ‘The Forgotten Irish’ many would never return to Ireland.”
This memorial is a sister plaque to the one on Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier.
After the event, Mr Mulhall posted on social media that the visit to the centre was “probably” his last.
“Sad that this will probably be my last visit [to the London Irish Centre] as Ambassador [of Ireland to Britain]. Thanks to everyone for their kindness,” he wrote on Twitter.
It is understood that Mr Mulhall will now become the Irish ambassador to the US as part of a rotation in the senior ranks at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He will succeed Anne Anderson, who is retiring.
Mr Mulhall will be replaced in London by Adrian O’Neill, a former secretary general at Áras an Uachtaráin and current second secretary at the department.
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