The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB) beat the terrible weather conditions to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their prisoner project with a traditional music night at the Camden Irish Centre on Friday night.
The long planned and much anticipated night was almost ruined by the weather when the headline act, Trad legends Altan, had to cancel their performance due to being unable to fly over from Ireland due to the weather.
But showing the sort of resilience and never give up spirit which has helped them through the past quarter of a century working with some of the most vulnerable Irish people in custody in Britain. Staff at the organisation moved quickly to recruit the acclaimed London Lasses with Pete Quinn Trad group to perform at the anniversary celebrations.
The London Lasses with Pete Quinn have released four albums and been described as “one of the best bands on the scene today” by Irish Music magazine, and they produced a fine performance for the large crowd who braved the elements to celebrate the ICPO’s 25th anniversary.
As with any anniversary there was much time for reflection on past achievements, with Gareth Peirce, the famed Human Rights solicitor who worked to secure the freedom of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six defendants, being presented with the ICPO achievement award to thank her for her work among the Irish community.
Presenting the award was a former client of the ICPO, Guildford Four member Gerry Conlan, who also spoke at the event.
He drew parallels between the plight of the Muslim community in Britain today and what the Irish community suffered in the 70s and 80s. He said: “An injustice suffered by one is an injustice suffered by all”.
Dermot Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, said that the ICPO did valuable work, ministering to people who lacked a foothold in the new society in which they found themselves.
The night also saw the launch of the ICB’s first ever Friends scheme, which involves asking people to support the work of the charity on a regular basis. They can find out how to do this by contacting the ICB on 0207 4825528.
For more information on the ICN see: www.irishchaplaincy.org.uk/