Category: Archive

Bertie’s welcome words

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

But it was a close run thing.
Ahern’s less than sympathetic comments on St. Patrick’s Day in Washington regarding the ambitions of those who would reform immigration law and give the undocumented Irish a new chance of life in this country had threatened to cast a shadow over the taoiseach’s American lap of honor.
Thankfully, Ahern clearly recognized this and in his speech to the joint session of Congress raised the plight of the undocumented Irish while reminding legislators of the debt that this country owes to earlier generations of Irish who were allowed immigrate freely, and without the kind of legal restraint facing their fellow Irish.
It was important that Ahern use his time before Congress wisely. And in this key respect, and indeed in other areas, he did so.
But while his moment on the biggest of political stages was to good effect, it will not be to a lasting one for the undocumented unless followed by a sustained effort on both sides of the Atlantic to forge a future between Ireland and the United States that draws inspiration from the past.
We certainly hope that the days of enforced mass migration from Ireland to America are indeed history. But we also hope that the days of a completely closed golden door are waning too.
Though the numbers might be small by historical standards, it is critical that there be an avenue of free movement westwards and eastwards across the Atlantic in the years ahead.
It will take keen minds and hard work no doubt, but given the kind of mutual history so eloquently outlined on Capitol Hill last week by Taoiseach Ahern, a mutually beneficial bilateral deal should be achievable.

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