The author of the book is not up to date on Irish voices in Britain as we praise our happy lives in the UK
I note in the excerpt from John Wilson Foster’s book ‘The Idea of the Union: Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ – serialized in the News Letter this week (“There is silence among the Irish about their relocation to Britain”, December 8, see link below)– that I receive a mention (alongside Uncle Des) as one of those “southern” Irish men and women who have built successful careers in Britain.
He argues that a “code of silence must persist among migrants (from the Republic of Ireland) to Britain, because I have read almost nothing from the Irish living in Britain about their success or their satisfaction ”.
I fear that in his research for this book, Mr Foster missed my Op Ed article in the Irish Times on the eve of the Queen’s successful visit to Ireland in 2011. (“Queen’s visit highlights Britain’s closeness to Ireland”, April 28, 2011, web version of this letter will be linked to, see below).
In it I make it clear that I did not experience any disadvantage or discrimination in Britain as I rose through the ranks in British broadcasting and that in fact I – along with others appointed in the article – accomplished much more there than we could have if they had stayed in the “old country”.
Mr Foster must also have missed the high-profile series “How the Irish Shaped Britain” on Radio 4 and BBC Sounds from London, Fergal Keane, born but proud of Corkman, in whom many Irish voices praise their happy life in Britain (“Kingdoms of the Broad Sea”, the online version of this letter will be linked to it, see below).
Just as social and political attitudes have changed beyond recognition south of the border, some predefined views north of it also need updating.
Joe Lynam, Presenter, The Newsroom, BBC World Service
• More information on “The idea of the Union” below:
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