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Comhar Bulletin May 2023


Welcome to our May Comhar Policy Bulletin, please do get in touch to enquire about any items for further information.

Best wishes, 

Christian Zik Nsonwu 

Irish in Britain Policy and Public Affairs Manager

This edition covers:

Irish in Britain Activities 

  • All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain (APPG) 

  • Letter to Yvette Cooper  

  • New ONS Census Data 

  • Global Irish Civic Forum 2023 

  • Statement on Good Friday Agreement Anniversary  

  • May Election 

  • Voting ID Guidance 

  • + Other Updates 

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain (APPG) 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain (APPG) met on 19 April 2023. This meeting was the Annual General Meeting, where we gave updates on the current work activity and priorities, and APPG members facilitated the election of officers for this year.  

The AGM saw all seven current officers re-elected to serve another year. Irish in Britain gave a presentation on the profile of the Irish community through our Census 2021 research, our 50th anniversary Heritage Project and there was also an update from the Irish Embassy. We will publish an APPG meeting report next week. 

Letter to Yvette Cooper 

In February, Irish in Britain attended an event at the Institute for Government where Shadow Minister for the Home Office, Yvette Cooper MP, gave an overview of the Labour Party’s vision for law and order. During this presentation, the Shadow Home Secretary outlined how the Labour Party plans to reform the police and address immigration.  

Irish in Britain wrote to Yvette Cooper to ask for clarification on Labour’s plans for supporting ethnic minority communities while reforming the police. This position was not included in the proposed plans but is important to clarify for communities across the diverse spectrum in Britain today. We await clarification from the Shadow Minister’s office. 

New ONS Census Data 

In April, we published our first report on preliminary data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This report covers demography, health, housing and employment for the Irish community in England and Wales. The ONS will release further data over the coming months.  

We plan to publish complete reports on this data in the Summer/Autumn of 2023. See here for our latest release. 

Global Irish Civic Forum 2023 

The third Global Irish Civic Forum was held in Dublin on 20-21 April 2023. The forum is an initiative of the Irish Government developed to engage with the Irish diaspora from around the world. It helps to promote discussions around issues of concern and interest to the global Irish community, while strengthening ties between Ireland and the diaspora.   

Our CEO Brian Dalton spoke on the opening panel, and many of our members were in attendance. They spoke passionately about the solidarity and cooperation between organisations in Britain, and the challenges and opportunities of working within an evolving Irish community. See here for Irish in Britain’s report on the conference.  

Statement on Good Friday Agreement 

April marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) - a historic agreement that ended decades of conflict and division in Northern Ireland. The GFA was a turning point in Irish history as it created a window for reconciliation and healing that changed the course of Northern Ireland. 

The peace accord helped to improve British-Irish relations across the islands. It was not just an agreement between political traditions for power-sharing institutions, the strands for new institutions for cooperation and dialogue were overwhelmingly endorsed by citizens across the island of Ireland by referenda in 1998. 

Our CEO, Brian Dalton and our Chair, Darren Murphy, wrote to the Guardian about the significance of this anniversary.  

May Elections in the UK 

Elections will occur in district councils, metropolitan boroughs and unitary authorities across England on 4 May and in all local councils in Northern Ireland on 18 May. There are 8,058 council seats being contested in England and 462 in Northern Ireland. There are no elections taking place in Scotland or Wales in May 2023.  

To see the location of your local polling station and how to access the site, please follow the link here.  

Voter ID Guidance 

In October 2022, legislation requiring photo ID to vote in most new elections was passed. This presents potential challenges for those who may not previously have had a photo ID. Irish in Britain has published a resource guide that outlines questions and links to ID services. Be sure to check out our resource guide here

Other Updates 

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) 

The NCVO published their latest update on what’s happening in Westminster on issues that might impact charities. This month sees the potential tightening of the rules around APPGs, a new data protection bill and a campaign to help charities engage with the House of Lords. See here for their report

The Charities Aid Foundation Resilience Index 

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) surveyed more than 1,300 organisations across the UK over the last year. They have published a brief on their findings and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on local and national charities in Britain. See their report here