View Full Version : Blair Apologises to Ireland for Potato Famine

05-03-2002, 12:45 PM
Hey IFF: What do you think of this?

International News June 2,
Blair apologises to Ireland for Potato Famine
By Toby Harnden in Millstreet, Co Cork

TONY Blair has offered an implicit apology on behalf of the British
government that "failed their people" in Ireland 150 years ago when the
Potato Famine claimed a million lives and led to mass immigration.

The official expression of regret was taken by nationalists as an attempt to
inject fresh goodwill into Anglo-Irish relations four days before the
election of a new administration in Dublin. Unionists fear the statement
could also open the door to an apology for the events of Bloody Sunday in
1972, when 13 unarmed Roman Catholics were shot dead during disturbances
after a civil rights parade in Londonderry.

The apology came in a letter to the organisers of a weekend festival in
County Cork to commemorate the famine in Ireland and its subsequent effect on
society and politics. They had contacted Mr Blair asking if he would send a
message of support. Yesterday, Mr Blair's office said the Prime Minister had
thought carefully about the wording of the letter. He spent some time working
on the final draft of the message, which the organiser received on Saturday.

The Prime Minister said the famine of 1845-49 was "a defining event in the
history of Ireland and of Britain" that had left deep scars. "Those who
governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while
a crop failure turned into a massive human tragedy. That one million people
should have died in what was then part of the richest and most powerful
nation in the world is something that still causes pain as we reflect on it

Mr Blair added that Britain had "benefited immeasurably from the skills and
talents of Irish people" in all aspects of life. "It is right that we should
pay tribute to the ways in which the Irish people have triumphed in the face
of this catastrophe."

Nationalists welcomed Mr Blair's words. One senior SDLP source said: "The
Prime Minister had clearly thought very carefully about his message and it
was a welcome change from the often begrudging attitude of the last British

Unionists, however, were dismissive. John Taylor, deputy leader of the Ulster
Unionist Party, said: "I don't think anyone should apologise for matters
which did not happen in their lifetime and for which they were not
responsible. I suppose it is a nice gesture by the Prime Minister but he will
find it will not satisfy and there will be yet more demands. The Irish
mentality is one of victimhood and to ask for one apology one week and
another on a different subject the next."

The Prime Minister is due to hold talks today with George Mitchell, the
American envoy chairing the negotiations. The message is likely to strengthen
Anglo-American relations.

It will also endear Mr Blair to Bertie Ahern, leader of the opposition Fianna
Fail party and the man most likely to emerge victorious after the Irish
general election on Friday. Mr Ahern called on the Government to apologise
for the famine two years ago. John Bruton, the Irish premier, said the
statement was timely and welcome.

Mr Blair's message to the Irish people was read out by Gabriel Byrne, the
actor, at a concert in the village of Milltown, Co Cork, where thousands had
gathered for the event that marked the culmination of three years of

Mary Robinson, the Irish president, lit an emigrants' candle in honour of
"the Irish spirit" worldwide. She said: "Commemorating the famine is a moral
act of remembrance and honour by our generation here in Ireland and by people
who cherish their Irishness throughout the world."

A video link-up was used to show President Clinton also lighting a candle. He
said the famine was the "greatest-ever tragedy" in Irish history. "The famine
transformed Ireland and America and linked us for ever," he said. "Out of the
horrible tragedy emerged a blessing for our nation - the men, women and
children who crossed the ocean to make a new life in America."

There had been criticism of the event, however, from Action From Ireland, an
aid agency. It said it was akin to "dancing on graves". After Mr Blair's
message, there were performances from pop groups, although some had stayed
away in protest at the "bad taste" of the event.

05-03-2002, 01:51 PM
We see time and time again that foreign occupation of other people's land causes violence and poverty.

I am glad many Irish people had the good sense to come to America and I hope more come here. I had a very long term relationship with an 100% Irish chick (that failed unfortunately). Is there anyone who do that intricate kick dance that they do? That is amazing.

05-05-2002, 03:18 AM
Uh, it's a little late don't ya think?

05-05-2002, 07:12 AM
thanks for posting criminal

i personally feel when i think about it that i am very lucky to be here as if it wasn't for the famine people of my family might not have gotten together. of course because of the famine us irish startingdrinking the good ol black stuff we are reknowned for (according to the O'reilly factor anyway). But yes when irish people emigrated to america, canada, austrailia, and england we did achieve good things and provide neccessary talents for the people of these coutnries

05-06-2002, 12:51 AM
Great to hear it. Now if the Gaelic language can be restored to its previous glory like it was before te famine......

05-06-2002, 07:28 AM
Originally posted by mayaneagle
Great to hear it. Now if the Gaelic language can be restored to its previous glory like it was before te famine......

that's my eternal hope.

there was also 8 million people living in ireland before the famine and now currently in a 32 county ireland there is 5 million while at the time of the famine there was 12 million living in the uk

the gaeltacht is also getting smaller in ireland. there are less and less area's speaking irish and the main irish area's are for touriswm and farming. I think it's a total shame about the state of the fine irish launguage

05-06-2002, 11:49 PM
Originally posted by jillianjiggs
Uh, it's a little late don't ya think?
I would say about 160 years too late. All the same its good to hear the Prime Minister acknowledge this fact.

05-07-2002, 12:27 AM
Better late than never. Even if it is 160 years.

05-09-2002, 11:15 PM
Originally posted by punchapitchafit
Better late than never. Even if it is 160 years. Very true.

05-10-2002, 12:23 AM
hehehe....................true true

05-10-2002, 08:08 AM
Mae Gaelic yn completely shafted. Me hy'n impossible to learn ac totally pointless.

*had to suffer Welsh lessons at school*