Michael D Higgins says Australian democracy has 'distinctive Irish influence'

President Michael D Higgins has spoken about the influence of Irish emigrants in Australia.

Higgins made the remarks in a speech at the joint Houses of Parliament of Western Australia in Perth today - writes thejournal.ie.

“Since the arrival of the first fleet 230 years ago, Irish people have traversed the vast seas to this continent, some as prisoners and some as servants of empire, and later, as migrants fleeing hunger, poverty, oppression, frustration and stagnation, seeking fortune, adventure, professional or economic opportunity,” Higgins stated.

“A third of a million Irish people emigrated to Australia between 1840 and 1914, often travelling, particularly in the later period, with assistance from the governments of the new colonies. We Irish, for example, were the most prolific users of the nomination scheme, which allowed whole families to migrate over time.”

Higgins spoke about how his grandfather’s brother and sister Patrick and Mary Ann Higgins, emigrants from County Clare, arrived in Moreton Bay on 8 April 1862.

“Five of my grandfather’s family of seven would end up moving to Australia. Patrick was, in his own words, ‘a tiller of the soil’, brought up to the plough from a young age.

“He used these skills to become a worker and manager of several farms in Queensland, and finally to establish himself with his own farm at Sandy Creek, seven miles from the town of Warwick.”

Economic struggles

The president, who is on a state visit to Australia, noted how Irish people continued to emigrate to Australia after World War II.

The ebb and flow of migration since that time has been a result of the same conjunction of structural forces and personal agency, of the push and pull of economic and social circumstances, individual hopes and dreams, and in the Irish case, as with others, of the pressures of a society and economy in Ireland that so often struggled to provide the necessary opportunity and security to all its citizens.

Higgins said the “economic hardship in Ireland” during the late 1940s and 1950s was a catalyst for many emigrants.

“Today, over 90,000 Irish-born people live in Australia and of course two million Australians record their ancestry as Irish in your national census.

“Here in this State, one can see the manifold and multifaceted influence of Irish emigrants and Australians of Irish ancestry on the different periods and circumstances of your history…

“This new world, with its burgeoning democratic tradition, was formed and gave form, had an influence on, the struggle for democracy and independence in Ireland.

“Some of the defining characteristics of your Australian democracy, established in often perilous and difficult conditions, carry a distinctive Irish influence. Indeed, conditions in Ireland may have given to some a perhaps singular determination not to carry and repeat all of the sins of the old world in the new.”

Daniel O’Connell

Higgins then spoke about the influence of a number of prominent Irish people in Australia, including Daniel O’Connell.

“The influence of Daniel O’Connell, the Irish liberator, extended to this country through the appointment of the remarkable John Hubert Plunkett as Attorney General of New South Wales in 1832 where he fought for and established the principles of civil and religious equality, and of equality before the law, helping break down the distinction between Emancipist and Exclusionist which had divided and marred the infant colony.

“His prosecution of the Case of Myall Creek with its vindication of the rights of indigenous people would come at a considerable personal cost.”

‘Slavery by another name’

Higgins noted that while most Irish emigrants had a positive experience of moving to Australia, “this was not always the case”.

“The dominant ideas of the time of the emigrants leaving and their arrival defined their experience.

“It was not a positive experience for the thousands of young girls, orphaned by the Irish famine, and transported to Australia under Earl Grey’s scheme developed to address a failing landlordism at home, and to meet the labour force needs and the gender balance in the new colony.

“These girls were exposed to humiliation based on the threefold prejudice of gender, religion and nationality.

“Neither was it the case for the thousands of convicted men and women who, on arrival, encountered a prison system that was slavery by another name,” he said.

Read also other news of Dublin on our site.

thejournal.ie
Australiandemocracy Irishinfluence
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in september
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
A number of Ulster Bank customers are currently being impacted by an issue with the bank’s Anytime and Mobile Banking services. In a statement Ulster Bank said that it was aware that there are some issues on its Anytime and Mobile Banking services, and that it is working to fix them. The bank advised customers that its telephone banking and ATM services have not been impacted by the problem. "We are aware that customers are currently experiencing issues lo...
Society
TWO national school teachers and an accountant have been spared jail for their part in a violent brawl in a well-known Dublin pub. Teachers Michael Davitt and Seamus O Cearra, as well as accountant Conor Shannon all walked free from court today after admitting violent disorder charges in the 10-man melee. A fourth accused, warehouse manager and soccer team captain Stephen Cantwell also avoided a prison sentence while a fifth, electrician David McSweeney wa...
Incidents
Two people have been hospitalised with serious injuries and a man arrested on suspicion of drink-driving following a collision in Co Wexford. The two-car crash happened at The Leap in Clonroche at around 8.30pm yesterday evening. A man and woman, both in their 50s, were taken by ambulance to Wexford General Hospital. The driver of the second car, a man in his 50s, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of drink-driving. He has since been released from cust...
Society
Long-standing plans to deliver hundreds of new homes on the site of the former Player Wills cigarette factory on Dublin's South Circular Road have come up against yet another obstacle. Documents lodged in the High Court showed the site's Nama-appointed receivers, Paul McCann and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton, are locked in legal proceedings in an effort to remove a company operating a salvage business from the site. The case relating to the tenancy rig...
Society
Health Minister Simon Harris has been told his decision on whether to grant access to a revolutionary new drug for children with a rare degenerative condition is one of life or death. Families, friends, supporters and sufferers of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) gathered outside the Dail yesterday to call for access to the drug Spinraza. The only drug ever manufactured to treat SMA, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder, it is licensed, available and changin...
Society
Storm damage at the ploughing championships has forced organisers to cancel the second day of the event. More than 100,000 people had been scheduled to attend Ireland's largest annual outdoor event outside Tullamore, Co Offaly. However, two delayed openings were not enough to save the National Ploughing Association (NPA) event, after tents were badly damaged by the gusting winds. NPA assistant managing director Anna Marie McHugh said the organisers will no...
Society
A dream holiday to Ireland turned to tragedy for a tourist who died after her caravan was blown into the sea as Storm Ali battered the country. The woman, named locally as Elvira Ferraii from Switzerland, had arrived in the Clifden area of Galway the day before the tragic incident. She rented a caravan and was staying at the Clifden Eco Beach camping and caravan site in the Claddaghduff area, along the Atlantic coastline. At around 7.45am yesterday the car...
Society
Teachers Michael Davitt and Seamus O Cearra and accountant Conor Shannon all walked free from court yesterday after admitting violent disorder charges over the 10-man melee. A fourth accused, warehouse manager Stephen Cantwell, also avoided a prison term while a fifth, electrician David McSweeney, was jailed for six months. Passing sentence, Judge Brian O'Shea said the teachers were "ambassadors for their schools" whenever they went out and they had "let t...
Society
ESB Networks says 39,000 homes, farms and businesses are still without power this morning after StormAli crossed the country yesterday. Repair crews workedthrough the night, but 1,600 individual faults remain on the network. It says it hopes to restore power to everyone affected today. ESB Networks Operations Manager Derek Hynes said most repairs are in the Cavan/Longford, Monaghan and Mayo areas. He saidcrews need to get to 1,600 locations today andwarned...