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Obama's visit reminds us of our past abuses

The people of Ireland who will welcome US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle next month may not give due consideration to the role that some of our ancestors played in slavery and colonisation.

We were both colonised and colonisers, abused and abusers. In last Tuesday's Irish Independent, Eimear Ni Bhraonain points out that: "Megan Smolenyak -- the genealogist who uncovered the Moneygall connection to Mr Obama -- traced Mrs Obama back to young slave girl Melvinia Shields. Melvinia went on to have children with an Irish-American slave owner named Shields."

Mr Obama's father came from Kenya, where many Irishmen participated in colonial abuses against the Kenyan people, and in particular were involved in massacres committed by British military and police forces during the Mau Mau rebellion.

Amid all the ballyhoo that will take place during the Obama visit, perhaps the Irish people should take some time out to say we are sorry for the abuses perpetrated against African and indigenous American peoples by many of our ancestors.

Edward Horgan,
Castletroy, Limerick

Irish Independent