Uniting Ireland conference attracts broad platform and full house in Cork
In his opening remarks he referred to Cork as the birthplace of “social reformers, activists and rebels” citing O'Donovan Rossa and William Thompson as two examples.
Ann Piggot, a teacher who is president of Cork Council of Trades Unions spoke of a united Ireland being like “an illusive dream” but pointed to “more similarities than we realise” and the fact that physical barriers and imaginary borders were ignored by sporting, artistic and cultural organisations. She focused on the plight of workers in the recession and to the contact and co-operation between workers organisations in the ICTU. “Justice and unity are within our grasp,” she said.
Barney O'Reilly, former CEO of Kerry VEC focused on the education system, founded in 1831 and which to this day is called “a national school system” it was based on religious diversity at the beginning. As time passed, he said, “separation was the best we could do to manage diversity” with the VEC's being “a small bridgehead in a denominational system”.
He called for a system based, like in the French Revolution on equality, liberty and fraternity, which translated in the 21st century into “equality, freedom and mutual interdependence”, he said.
The Sinn Féin president was also joined on the platform in Cork City Hall by broadcasting legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Ruaidhri Deasy former IFA deputy leader.
The audience of over 400 joined enthusiastically in the discussion when it was open to the floor on two occasions during the evening.