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Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Image: MSNBC

'St Patrick's Day can't just be a parade, it has to be a stand': Senator goes on US TV to rally against Trump

Irish Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin explained that the ‘Irish Stand’ event in New York aims to show solidarity with immigrants.
Mar 13th 2017, 9:44 AM 26,326 111

“AMERICA HAS JUST elected a fascist – and I don’t use the word fascist lightly.”

These were the words used by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin during a Seanad speech he gave last year after Donald Trump was elected US president.

The speech went viral, bringing him to the attention of those across the pond.

This week, the Labour senator is in New York for St Patrick’s Day. However, unlike Taoiseach Enda Kenny, he won’t be taking part in the parade.

Instead, Ó Ríordáin will be joined by some well-known faces, such as Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, activist and writer Shaun King, comedian Maeve Higgins and writer Colum McCann, at a protest rally against the Trump administration.

Appearing on MSNBC yesterday, Ó Ríordáin explained the ‘Irish Stand’ event aims to show solidarity between the people of Ireland and immigrants suffering under President Trump.

Source: MSNBC/YouTube

“I think any Irish-American who celebrates St Patrick’s Day, but also supports the travel ban is somebody who has forgotten what it means to be Irish,” said Ó Ríordáin.

Forgetting the Irish story 

He criticised the number of Irish-Americans that work under the Trump administration, stating:

“I think they have completely forgot their Irish heritage, their own history. The Irish story is one of immigration, it is one of seeking refuge, it is one of overcoming sectarianism, and all the stereotypes that are laid against communities in America now were once laid against us.

“Lots of people will join together to make that stand, to remind Irish America that Ireland does not stand with this man and Ireland’s story is one of overcoming diversity,” he said.

The event is due to be held outside the iconic Riverside Church, where Martin Luther King gave his famous Vietnam speech.

Being the first St Patrick’s Day since Trump was elected, Ó Ríordáin said it is important to speak for every immigrant, because Ireland is an immigrant nation.

What Mexicans are going through now or Muslim Americans are going through now, or African-Americans who feel fearful, that is exactly what we went through in the past.

The Labour senator was reminded by the TV anchor, Joy Reid, that is was not so long ago that signs saying, ‘No blacks, no dogs no Irish’ hung outside shop windows.

Ó Ríordáin agreed, and said it is time for Irish people to reclaim the true meaning of St Patrick’s Day.

We need to grab St Patrick’s Day back from the white nationalist viewpoint and present it as a celebration of immigration… you have to realise, it is a celebration of an immigrant nation here… it is the same fight, it is the same story.
We can’t let St Patrick’s Day just be a parade – it has to be a stand.

The Irish Stand rally will take place at the Riverside Church in New York at 7.30pm on St Patrick’s Day.

TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Enda Kenny’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page

Read: Donald Trump’s St. Patrick’s Day hat has been pulled from his website>

Read: Taoiseach says he will raise the new travel ban with Trump when he visits the White House>

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Christina Finn

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