Ruth Dudley Edwards: Ceremony for Forgotten Irish marks efforts of two 'fighters'
Published 29/01/2012 | 05:00
'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.