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Author: szeiger
No. Questions: 5
Created: Jun 10, 2014
Last Modified: 6 years ago

Address to the Irish Parliament

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An excerpt from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Address to the Irish Parliament, 1998

Members of the Dail and Seanad, after all the long and torn history of our two peoples, standing here as the first British prime minister ever to address the joint Houses of the Oireachtas, I feel profoundly both the history in this event, and I feel profoundly the enormity of the honour that you are bestowing upon me. From the bottom of my heart, go raibh mile maith agaibh.

Ireland, as you may know, is in my blood. My mother was born in the flat above her grandmother's hardware shop on the main street of Ballyshannon in Donegal. She lived there as a child, started school there and only moved when her father died; her mother remarried and they crossed the water to Glasgow.

We spent virtually every childhood summer holiday up to when the troubles really took hold in Ireland, usually at Rossnowlagh, the Sands House Hotel, I think it was. And we would travel in the beautiful countryside of Donegal. It was there in the seas off the Irish coast that I learned to swim, there that my father took me to my first pub, a remote little house in the country, for a Guinness, a taste I've never forgotten and which it is always a pleasure to repeat.

Even now, in my constituency of Sedgefield, which at one time had 30 pits or more, all now gone, virtually every community remembers that its roots lie in Irish migration to the mines of Britain.

So like it or not, we, the British and the Irish, are irredeemably linked.

We experienced and absorbed the same waves of invasions: Celts, Vikings, Normans -- all left their distinctive mark on our countries. Over a thousand years ago, the monastic traditions formed the basis for both our cultures. Sadly, the power games of medieval monarchs and feudal chiefs sowed the seeds of later trouble.

Yet it has always been simplistic to portray our differences as simply Irish versus English -- or British. There were, after all, many in Britain too who suffered greatly at the hands of powerful absentee landlords, who were persecuted for their religion, or who were for centuries disenfranchised. And each generation in Britain has benefited, as ours does, from the contribution of Irishmen and women.

Today the links between our parliaments are continued by the British-Irish Parliamentary Body, and last month 60 of our MPs set up a new all-party "Irish in Britain Parliamentary Group."

Irish parliamentarians have made a major contribution to our shared parliamentary history. Let me single out just two:

Daniel O'Connell, who fought against injustice to extend a franchise restricted by religious prejudice;
Charles Stewart Parnell, whose statue stands today in the House of Commons and whose political skills and commitment to social justice made such an impact in that House.

So much shared history, so much shared pain.

And now the shared hope of a new beginning.
Grade 9 Author's Purpose CCSS: CCRA.R.3, RI.9-10.3
A.
How does Tony Blair work to immediately connect with the Irish people?
  1. He references his own Irish heritage.
  2. He uses an Irish expression.
  3. He recognizes honor in the opportunity to speak.
  4. All of the above
Grade 9 Supporting Details CCSS: CCRA.R.5, RI.9-10.5
C.
After sharing his own link to Irish history, how does Tony Blair continue the speech?
  1. By connecting the countries' shared military history
  2. By showing how the British have helped the Irish
  3. By showing how the Irish have helped the British
  4. By bringing up current problems between the two countries
Grade 9 Supporting Details CCSS: CCRA.R.8, RI.9-10.8