Latest news

CEO Maurice Malone appointed to the Council of State

We at the Birmingham Irish Association are delighted with the recent announcements from the President’s office that our CEO, Maurice Malone, has been appointed to the Council of State.

The Council established by the constitution exists to offer advice to the President.

Commenting on the announcement, Pat Reihill, Chair of Birmingham Irish Association said,

‘’This is a very great honour for the organisation which cannot be overstated, and it is in recognition of the tireless work of our Chief Executive, Maurice Malone, to promote harmony and find solutions. Nowhere was this more in evidence than at the culmination of years of work to unveil a fitting memorial to those who tragically lost their lives in the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974. At the very heart of this project and the impressive memorial is reconciliation, and Maurice is the embodiment of consensus and reconciliation.

The Irish community in Birmingham and across Britain can be confident that their voice will be heard in this important advisory body.’’

Maurice said “I am honoured and delighted to accept the invitation from President Michael D Higgins to be part of his Council of State. I look forward to championing the fantastic work carried out by Irish organisations in the UK and to continue to support the thousands of Irish people who have made Britain home for themselves and their families.”

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President of Ireland Michael D Higgins visits Birmingham

Birmingham Irish Association were delighted to host a visit from President Michael D Higgins and his wife Mrs Sabina Higgins on 11th February.

President Michael D Higgins started his visit with a civic reception hosted by Birmingham’s lord mayor Yvonne Mosquito and later visited the memorial to the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings, which Birmingham Irish Association had  lobbied for a new memorial that symbolises peace and hope for the city.

The President and his wife Mrs Sabina Higgins then met members of the Irish community at the Birmingham Irish Association.

The President addressed the crowd at Birmingham Irish Association, and commented on the history of the Birmingham Irish: "In 2017, much of this history was brought together in the wonderful project, appropriately titled We Built This City."

The project tells the stories of Irish workers who came to Birmingham after the Second World War, through their own words and those of their children.

"Through this project you can get a sense of what it meant to these people to leave home, and how they went on to build their lives in a new city," he added.

Mr Higgins also thanked the people of Birmingham for welcoming the Irish people and their families into their communities.

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Office Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are needed to cover our busy front office at Birmingham Irish Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. from 10.am till 3.pm.

Duties to include

*Answering the phones

*Dealing with enquires from the public

*completing Irish Passport forms and on line Irish passport applications

Very laid back and relaxed environment Full training given

Please contact Trudy on 0121 604 6111 or email trudy@birminghamirish.org.uk

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Looking forward to 2019

Merry Christmas from Birmingham Irish Association!

Here's an update on the work of Birmingham Irish Association this year, and all things Irish in Brum!


Victims of The Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial

The Victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial

On 21st November 2018 a new memorial to the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings was unveiled in a ceremony outside New Street Station, exactly forty-four years after the atrocity took place.

Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial Opening

The project has been organised over the last three years by Maurice Malone, CEO of Birmingham Irish Association. Videos by Michael Tracey Films. You can read more in a BBC article here and our own article here.


Christmas Celebrations!

We had a delightful end to our last week before Christmas, with our St Anne's Centre dinners - yes two - one for our clients on 13th, and another for our much appreciated volunteers on 14th.

Without the help and time given by our volunteers, and the support of the community we would not be able to provide such a valued service to our clients and their families.

Read more here.


Ambassador's Visit

Adrian O’Neill Irish Ambassador to the UK, met with staff and volunteers and was briefed on our continued good work in the community, including our health care team, benefits advice team, dementia centre project, the development of our Irish event app and website; The Craic, and a growing partnership with the St Patrick’s Festival.

Read more here.


The Craic App

We've developed a new website and app, aptly named "The Craic". Both website and app will provide users with up to date information on Irish events across Birmingham, and with other organisations in Scotland, London and Leeds looking to get involved, we'll soon be promoting the whole of the UK!

Check out the website here!


The OktoberFeis

10 Irish breweries, 8 Birmingham Irish bands, One long weekend! The weekend-long event, ran from Friday 26th until Sunday 28th October, and featured the best in local and Irish brewed beers, along with the finest in Irish music, all while raising money to ensure the St Patrick’s Parade and Festival remain a fixture in Birmingham’s calendar.

Read more here.


Annual Report

For further information about the work of our healthcare team, benefits advice team and more, check out our annual report.

Download Here

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Merry Christmas from Birmingham Irish

Merry Christmas from Birmingham Irish Association!

We had a delightful end to our last week before Christmas, with our St Anne's Centre dinners - yes two - one for our clients on 13th, and another for our much appreciated volunteers on 14th. 

Without the help and time given by our volunteers, and the support of the community - bands visiting and performing, a school choir visiting from Our Lady's in Kits Green - we would not be able to provide such a valued service to our clients and their families. 

We are hugely grateful for the support of our friends and sponsors, and we used the occasion to thank one of our many sponsors; Kiely Bros, for their continued support.

We would like to say a special thank you to the following who have kindly supported the organisation throughout the year, without their generous support we would not be able to provide much needed services to the vulnerable members of our community....

The Lambe family and M Lambe construction

Bill Friel and Friel Homes

Kiely Brothers Limited

The John McNally foundation and Number Seven partners

Pat Kelly and Family

Mick O’Brien and friends

The Reynolds Family

The Savage Family

Paula and Joe Hetherington

The Irish Community

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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Common Travel Area letter from Ambassador Adrian O'Neill

Following a recent article, the following is a letter from Ambassador O’Neill to the Irish World on the Common Travel Area.

There has been an increasing focus on the future of the Common Travel Area (CTA) in recent weeks. With the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, members of the Irish community living here in Britain understandably want clarity on the arrangements which will apply to them after Brexit.

I want to firstly assure your readers that intensive work is ongoing both with the UK Government and across Government Departments in Ireland to ensure that the necessary arrangements are made in both countries so that the CTA continues to function effectively after the UK leaves the EU - in all circumstances. No matter what happens in the Brexit negotiations, Irish citizens in the UK and British citizens in Ireland will continue to have access to their CTA rights. This has been affirmed by both Governments and has been specifically provided for by the UK Government in their “no deal” planning notices.

As readers will be aware, the CTA is a long-standing arrangement between the UK and Ireland, which means Irish citizens can move freely to live, work, and study in the UK on the same basis as UK citizens and vice versa. It provides for associated rights and privileges including access to employment, healthcare, education, and social benefits, as well as the right to vote in certain elections. The CTA is an arrangement that is valued on both islands and the continuation of this arrangement is a stated objective of both the Irish and UK Governments.

Many people have asked if this will be possible after the UK leaves the EU and the answer is yes. Maintenance of the CTA is a bilateral matter between Ireland and the UK and it is recognised in EU law by Protocol No. 20 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This was reaffirmed once again in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, which was endorsed by leaders of the UK and the EU 27 at the European Council on 25 November 2018.

In view of its importance to our citizens, maintenance of the CTA has been one of the Irish Government’s Brexit priorities from the outset. For its part, the UK Government has committed to updating domestic legislation, as necessary, to ensure that the agreed CTA rights and privileges are properly secured. This proofing work, both domestically in Ireland and with the UK, is now at an advanced stage. When this work is concluded, the Government of Ireland – and this Embassy – will update our citizens further without delay.

I know the UK’s proposed Settled Status scheme for EU citizens has been the source of considerable interest and perhaps confusion within the Irish community. The UK Home Office has already indicated that Irish citizens will not need to register or take any action under the Settled Status scheme (relevant UK Home Office link: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families). They will continue to hold their CTA rights which are not reliant on EU membership. However, as EU citizens, Irish citizens – if they so wish - will be able to apply under the Settled Status scheme when it is open for applications.

When the scheme opens and full clarity on the overall context is available, including on the rights provided for in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, it will be important for people to make a fully informed decision on whether they wish to apply having carefully considered all the information and their own personal circumstances. Circumstances which may be relevant include where an Irish citizen has close family members and/or dependents who are neither Irish nor British and hence are not covered by the CTA. Further information on this is available on https://www.dfa.ie/brexit/ and will be added to as more detailed information becomes available

The Common Travel Area has endured for almost a century, long before there was a European Union, and has proven to be flexible and adaptable. That adaptability has proved a strength and has allowed the CTA arrangements to evolve and take account of changing needs and circumstances. This is something which we believe is vitally important to maintain and I look forward to updating your readers and all Irish citizens further on this in the weeks ahead.

Yours etc.

Adrian O’Neill

Ambassador of Ireland to the UK

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Channel 4 - Brexit Debate 5th November

Channel 4 are producing a live debate show in Digbeth about what the UK thinks now about Brexit. They are looking for engaged voices to be part of their audience.

They are looking for people from the Irish community to join the debate, given that the Irish border is such a huge part of the Brexit negotiation.

The debate will be on Monday 5th Nov from 8pm-9pm in a venue in Digbeth, Birmingham (B5 postcode)

Anyone interested needs to email adam.smith@renegadepictures.co.uk asap so they can be issued with a ticket via email.

Some more info on the show:

"The backbone of the show will be an extensive survey carried out by Survation, looking at what people think of the government's approach to Brexit; whether they are happy with the latest plan and exploring attitudes to alternative courses of action . The survey will comprise of interviews with 20,000 people in every constituency of the UK, making it possible to examine attitudes on local, regional and national levels - the only one of its kind. We will have a local audience and Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosting with Sir John Curtice alongside analysing the results."

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3 Nights, 10 breweries, 8 bands

Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival, in association with DigBrew Co and Birmingham Irish Association, have secured 10 breweries, 8 Birmingham Irish bands and bucket loads of craic for their new OktoberFeis – an Irish music and beer festival. Popular Irish breweries including Galway Bay, Blacks and Rascals will be displaying the best of their brews, alongside the best of Birmingham Irish music!

The event will be held at DigbrewCo on River Street, Digbeth, over 26-28th October!

The full list of breweries involved is:

Rascals Brewing Co, Galway Bay Brewery, Lough Gill Brewery, Western Herd Brewing Company, Blacks Brewery & Distillery, Hope Beer, O Brother Brewing, ClonBrew, Dungarvan Brewing Company and DigBrew Co.

The mini Festival will take place at Digbeth’s only brewery, DigBrew Co, on River Street. Each evening will start with a meet the brewer event, with representatives from Hope, Lough Gill, Galway Bay and DigBrew Co, followed by live music from a variety of fantastic Birmingham Irish bands!

The bands performing will include: Josh Powell, Salt Creek, Reel Note Ceili Band, The Hurling Boys, James Reidy, Hooley, Lampa and The Deluge

The weekend-long event from 26th- 28th October will be raising money to ensure the much loved St Patrick’s Festival can continue for another year, with parade day this year falling on St Patrick’s Day itself - 17th March! Tickets are £5 a night or £10 for the weekend, with all proceeds from ticket sales going back into ensuring the St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s future is secure; Get your tickets from stpatricksbirmingham.com or oktoberfeis.com.

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New Memorial for the Victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings

New Memorial to be unveiled at New Street Station for the Victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings of 1974

On 21st November 2018 a new memorial to the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings will be unveiled in a ceremony outside New Street Station, exactly forty-four years after the atrocity took place.

Above: Front of New Street Station where the Memorial will be installed.

The memorial has been designed by local artist Anuradha Patel who already has a number on works on display across the West Midlands including the Aspire sculpture at Hawthorns railway station. Anuradha has worked closely with the victims’ families and Birmingham City Council, and the new memorial entails a grove of sculptured metal trees with the names of the twenty-one victims engraved on the leaves. Seating will be built into the base of two of the trees providing visitors a place to rest and contemplate.

Network Rail is funding the artwork’s installation in keeping with its section 106 planning obligations agreed with the city council as part of the New Street station upgrade. The New Street station site was selected because of its prominence in the centre of the city.

Above: Layout of the three trees.

The impetus for the new memorial has come from the leaders of Birmingham’s Irish communities. Following historical research into the after-effects of the bombings by Professor Gavin Schaffer and Dr Saima Nasar at the University of Birmingham, Irish community leaders came together with victims’ families under the leadership of Birmingham Irish Association’s Maurice Malone, to create a new monument to the victims.

Above: Mock-up of an individual leaf

Julie Hambleton who has been representing the families of those who lost their lives said "The families have always had a dream of healing the fractured community of Birmingham that has existed since the pub bombings in 1974. This new Memorial is not only to remember those who were slain in cold blood but to illustrate how the communities in Birmingham, continue to support each other, no matter what”

Maurice has led what has become known as the Misneach Memorial Committee to create this new memorial, which, it is hoped, will serve as a mark of respect to all those who have suffered as a result of the bombings, and demonstrate the enduring unity and resilience of Birmingham’s communities.

Reflecting on the project so far Maurice said “As a group incorporating the Irish community, the victims’ families, the city, and the university, we wanted to create an inclusive and healing memorial which could reflect both the damage the pub bombings did to our city, and the hope we have for the future”.

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Road plan ‘bombshell’ for Warks GAA

Highways England's plans to build a relief road off junction six of the M42 will have a "hugely damaging effect on Pairc na hEireann (...) stakeholders and consequently the sustainability of Gaelic Games (a minority sport), in Warwickshire."

Warwickshire GAA Secretary Michael Colling said "We feel strongly that the new proposals will impact negatively on both the environment and the accessibility of Pairc na hEireann", He added, "without people (players and spectators) we will have no games".

The Trustees and Officers of Warwickshire County Board believe the only viable solution, to preserve the sporting facilities, heritage, cultural fabric and harmony of our current facilities, is a well-executed, relocation of our grounds. "A well-executed Compulsory Purchase Order leaves the individual is a no worse off state, this cannot be said of Highway England’s current proposals for Pairc na hEireann."

The hugely important monument to deceased members, currently symbolically situated at the highest point on our facility, will also have to be re-sited.

The Warwickshire GAA County Board have asked as many members and acquaintances as possible to do two simple but hugely effecting tasks to support our ongoing fight.

Please be aware that consultation closes on October 2nd so could all concerned please complete same within this timeframe.

1. Contact as many MPs as possible by asking them to write to the Secretary of State for Transport stating why the current offer being proposed does not leave the 3000 Warwickshire GAA membership and the 12,000 GAA members nationally in an equivalent position to that which it was in before the development and because of this in conclusion that the reconfigured site is not, in fact, a reasonable alternative and therefore decide that the preferred location is the only realistic option. 

2. Complete the online response form found at

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/m42-junction-6-improvement-additional-consultation/

again stating the facts above and informing why the GAA needs a relocation due to the following issues

• the fabric of our oasis-like rural recreational facility boarding on a minor B road some 30m away will be replaced by a 2000 cars per hour 4 lane dual carriage within 5 metres of our Main County Pitch, with pitch two covered in concrete and pitch three reduced to that of a juvenile training pitch.

• Noise and Air pollution coming from the dual carriageway will affect the hearing, lungs and performance of all users and visitors to Pairc na hEireann, especially our youngest members, despite the best scientific advances in emission technologies and motorway design.

• No thought as to where our beloved monument might be replaced.

• No thought as to the safety of road users with sliothars (Hurling balls) travelling at over 150km/h (93 mph) and over 110m (361ft).

• No thought to the current safety features of our site with our nearest pitch being placed 30 metres away from the B road.

• No thought to the suitability of lands adjacent to our current facility - to the north underneath the flight path, to the west on a disused land fill completed before safe dumping regulations were in place, to the south above an oil pipeline of national infrastructural importance serving the airport.

"The only alternative to preserve the fabric of what we currently have is a relocation; this is the only viable solution that leaves us in an equivalent position; all other proposals leave Warwickshire GAA worse off. This is clearly not within the remit of a well executed Compulsory Purchase Order. We demand to have a facility of equivalent benefits."

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