Senator Aodhan O Riordain, whose fiery speech attacking President Donald Trump in the Irish Senate quickly went viral after the election last November, will join with Irish and U.S. community leaders in New York on St. Patrick’s Day to stand against what they see as a growing tide of racism and prejudice in the United States.
“Trump is a fascist and I’m embarrassed by the (Irish) government’s response to the election result,” the Labour Party senator said in the YouTube speech, which was watched by over 40 million viewers.
Now, as an alternative to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s White House visit to deliver a bowl of shamrock to President Trump on March 16, a group of Irish and U.S activists plan to hold a major human rights rally and concert in New York on the evening of March 17.
The “Irish Stand” event aims to be a “global call for justice and equality,” and it will take place in the famous 2,500 seat Riverside church in Manhattan, a venue with a rich legacy in the cause of social justice, where Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela both gave famous addresses.
Initiated by O Riordain, Irish Stand will feature Irish artists, activists and celebrities that include New York-based Irish playwright and Waking the Feminists organizer Lisa Tierney Keogh, Council of State member Ruairi McKiernan, and many community groups in New York.
The event will also feature contributions from New York-based author Colum McCann, comedian Maeve Higgins, prominent U.S writer and activist Shaun King and West Wing actor Richard Schiff among others. Additional musicians and speakers will be announced in the lead up to the event, and efforts are reportedly being made to invite representatives from communities adversely affected by racism and prejudice to participate.
The organizers told the Irish Voice that the event is inspired by the legacy of oppression and forced emigration in Ireland, and it aims to send a message of unity at a time of fear and division in the world. They hope that others will take up the call and host St. Patrick’s Day Irish Stand style events in Ireland, the U.S. and in cities throughout the world.
O Riordain told the Irish Voice that he feels it has never been more important to make a stand and speak out.
“Many of the struggles that Martin Luther King campaigned on are sadly the same struggles people face today. We are witnessing attacks on workers, on the environment and on vulnerable communities, especially migrants and immigrants. It is so important that we don’t sit back in silence,” he said.
“I’m glad to say the support we’re receiving is overwhelming. Our hope is to send a clear message out that Irish people stand in unity with people of different races in calling for justice and equality in the U.S, Ireland and around the world.”