By Ruth Dudley Edwards
Sunday January 29 2012
‘How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see?’ asked Bobby McDonagh, Irish Ambassador to the UK, as he addressed supporters of the Forgotten Irish on Friday evening.

His Bob Dylan allusion was to that period in the Irish past when children suffered abuse in institutions, single mothers were enslaved in Magdalene laundries, and no one wanted to know. Many of the damaged young people who escaped to Britain are now among the thousands of impoverished and isolated elderly people being helped by a multi-million campaign driven by the Ireland Fund of Great Britain (IFGB).

But last Friday night, at an award ceremony at the House of Lords in London, it was an occasion to celebrate a much improved present, where recent emigrants are acknowledging and helping their predecessors who — despite their hard lives — sent as much as €3.57bn in today’s terms to help the people struggling back home.

Since 2007, when the Forgotten Irish campaign began, €1.19m has been distributed to 50 organisations throughout the UK helping the vulnerable Irish with psychological and practical support.

As the ambassador said, the campaign reached new heights in May of last year, when the IFGB co-chair, Basil Geoghegan, whose career until recently was in merchant banking and is now in software, climbed Mount Everest and planted on top the flag of the Forgotten Irish.

So far, that climb alone has generated €132,146 for the fund.

The former victims of industrial schools, he said at the time, “have got their own Everest to climb every day and that was one that was thrust upon them”.

The Forgotten Irish award was shared by two doughty fighters for the Irish vulnerable. Both brought up in Irish institutions, Phyllis Morgan had a tough time. But although Sally Mulready was decently treated, she saw other children living in fear and was inspired by the revelations of the late Mary Raftery to seek out and help emigrant victims of institutional abuse.

Both women have a distinguished record of selfless hard work for various support organisations and success in forcing those in authority to pay attention to groups they would rather ignore: they are key figures in the Irish Elderly Advice Network.

Until the mid-1990s, said Ms Mulready, she and people like her would never have had invitations to the Irish Embassy: now she is on the Council of State.

On Friday night, they were upbeat, with Ms Mulready telling the audience that the Justice ministerial team, Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch, were close to a decision on how to help to bring justice for the Magdalene survivors.

– Ruth Dudley Edwards

 

4 Responses to “Ceremony for Forgotten Irish marks efforts of two ‘fighters”

  1. Monica says:

    Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch cannot make a decision on the Magdalen laundries until Martin McAleese publishes his report into the states involvement with the Magdalen laundries. They the State either were or they were not involved in sending young girls to the laundries. We will have to wait until the summer for that report and we all know these reports never come out on time. Until that time there will be NO JUSTICE for any woman who was sent the Magdalen laundries

  2. Monica says:

    Yet more awards. Seeing as all these awards are being accepted on behalf of survivors should there be a museum built so they can all be seen by the survivors themselves. Give up them auld Awards, sounds a bit like “Give up yer Auld sins”
    Guess this won’t make it past the moderator.
    On the award list already

    Christin Buckley
    Michael O Brien
    others but I can’t think of them right now, but, then again who cares

  3. sally mulready says:

    FXR Gee thanks . Nobody ‘sucks me in’ . In fact Phyllis and I did not even know we were getting this award.

    We accepted it on behalf of all those Survivors who never made it and in praise of the few like Mary R and Paddy and David Lane and others who put their heads up bravely spoke out- still doing it- and didn’t shout or write snide remarks from the sidelines.

    I am proud of what Phyllis and I do for Women Survivors and if you had been there FXR on Saturday at our first meeting of 2012 you would have seen a great atmosphere where us women have bonded and learned to respect and enjoy each others company . After ten years of the Womens Group we have come a long way. We stand tall. We are proud of our work because its worth while. and we feel like What can be wrong with that.

  4. FXR says:

    If you get sucked in you’ll only end up being spat out.

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