His Excellency, Ambassador Adrian O’Neill made his first visit to Luton Irish Forum on Tuesday 3rd July.
The first stop was Luton Town Hall, where Cllr Naseem Ayub, Mayor of Luton hosted the Ambassador for morning tea. He was given a short tour of the Town Hall and a gift of a tie featuring Luton’s coat of arms.
Lord Bill Mc Kenzie and Tom Scanlon, Chair of Luton Irish Forum, then welcomed Ambassador O’Neill to Luton Irish Forum centre. Stakeholders including Robin Porter from London Luton Airport Limited, Nicola Monk, Service Director – Policy, Communities and Engagement, Luton Borough Council and Tracey Smith, Big Lottery Fund were in attendance amongst members, staff, trustees, volunteers, and sponsors. The crowd were treated to excellent performances from Luton Irish Forum’s Emerald Pipe Band and traditional Irish music from Comhaltas which regularly supports Luton Irish Forum activities and events.
The Ambassador made a presentation to Luton Irish Forum founder member and long-standing trustee Joe Ward who stepped down at the AGM in June. Joe was thanked for his commitment and contribution to Luton Irish Forum’s continued growth. The Ambassador was presented with a framed poem written in calligraphy script by artist Bill Grant.
Tom Scanlon, Chair of Luton Irish Forum, said ‘We were delighted to welcome Ambassador Adrian O’ Neill and are grateful for the ongoing support of the Irish Government, the Embassy of Ireland and other stakeholders.’
Go to www.lutonirishforum.org or telephone 01582 720 447 to find out about the range of activities and services at Luton Irish Forum.
Luton Irish Forum was established by a small group of community leaders and members as the government was encouraging communities to become more proactive and more involved in the general life of the community in which they lived. The first meetings were held in a small room in the Town Hall, moving on to the Drill Hall in High Town and then relocating to fully accessible community centre at Kathleen Connolly House. In 2011 the building was redeveloped with funding from Irish Government and match funding from the Boyle family of The Bushwood partnership and officially opened by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
Whilst originally set up to safeguard the needs of the Irish residents in Luton, Luton Irish Forum is now a truly representative community organisation serving Luton’s diverse vulnerable and socially excluded people. Its activities and events which promote health and wellbeing, improve quality of life and increase social inclusion are accessed 1,000s times annually.
According to the 2011 Census, Luton has the highest percentage of Irish living outside of London. 6,126 [3%] of Luton residents ticked the Irish box, whilst just over 195 [0.1%] ticked the Irish Traveller box. This is not a true reflection as the majority of second and third generation did not tick the Irish box in the Census.
Luton Irish Forum centre Kathleen Connolly House was jointly funded by Connolly Foundation, Díon (now known as the Irish Government Emigrant Support Programme) and Luton Borough Council.