By Stephen Lloyd
MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Northern Ireland and MP for Eastbourne
The Irish Post’s October 27 report on the right wing organisations’ plans to march
The London Olympics highlighted how relations between Britain and Ireland are at an all-time high, with Katie Taylor cheered to her historic gold medal in boxing by hordes of British fans as well as thousands who made the trip over from Ireland.
Sports fans bearing the Irish tricolour in triumph were able to bask in their nation’s glory as they walked through the streets of London and other British cities, while Irish people in both nations admired the fantastic effort of Britain to put on such a superb sporting occasion. As part of my role on the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, I am part of a team of British politicians which meets with political leaders from Ireland to discuss matters of mutual concern to both our countries in a friendly and productive manner.
All of these are practical legacies of a peace and reconciliation process between our two nations which people in conflict zones across the world seek to use as a model for themselves to follow. That’s why the recent marches and attacks on the Irish community by groups such as the Northwest Infidels in Liverpool, who are seeking to sow the seeds of division and return relations between our two peoples to the dark days, are so repugnant.
This is at a time when both countries face economic challenges, but also share tremendous opportunities in terms of trade, particularly in areas of renewable energy, tourism and small businesses. For these reasons and more, its beholden on public representatives from all sides in Britain to make clear that groups such as the North West Infidels, with their skewed view of history and desire to divide, don’t speak for the majority of the British public, or their political leaders.
For over 40 years, The Irish Post has told the story of the Irish in Britain, from the darkest days of the Troubles to the triumphs of the Celtic Tiger and the challenges of the economic downturn.This journey is something I had a ringside seat for, as my family hail from Mayo and Belfast, and shockingly, one of my predecessors as MP for Eastbourne, Ian Gow, was killed by the IRA. I now see every day the contribution made to the community by the many hundreds of Irish people who live in Eastbourne.
If the first 40 years of The Irish Post are a chronicle of tragedy turned to triumph, I hope the next 40 are about still greater triumph, through greater trade, greater understanding, and ultimately greater prosperity for all. Let’s not allow groups like the Northwest Infidels undo 40 years of good work for the sake of their backward, futile and hateful ideology.