Timeline & Reading List

1970

Irish Post launched by Brendan Mac Lua and Tony Beatty

1971

Just under 1 million people living in Britain born in Ireland.

1972

Bloodiest year of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Anti-Irish attacks and police raids of Irish clubs in Britain reported in Irish Post.

British soldiers shoot 26 unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry, killing 14, on what becomes known as Bloody Sunday (30 January).

1973

Foundation of Federation of Irish Societies (June).

United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland both join the European Economic Community.

1974

Prevention of Terrorism Act becomes law

Rise in anti-Irish attacks in aftermath of Guildford and Birmingham bombings

Guildford Four and Maguire Seven arrested under Prevention of Terrorism Act

1976

British-Irish relations reach new low as Ireland takes United Kingdom to European Court of Human Rights for torture of internees

1980s

Economic crisis in Ireland leads to high numbers of youth emigration, peaking at end of the decade

Federation of Irish Societies responds to changing demographics with campaigns on welfare, discrimination, youth and employment

1981

Ten Irish republican prisoners die on hunger strike at the Maze prison

1983

Abortion referendum passes in Republic of Ireland effectively criminalising abortion

Federation campaigns on repatriation of Irish prisoners

1985

Anglo-Irish Agreement signed giving the Republic of Ireland a role in the governance of Northern Ireland in exchange for recognising UK jurisdiction

1987

Irish World newspaper founded by Paddy Cowan, focusing particularly on Irish sport and culture in Britain

1988

First undergraduates and postgraduate studies start at Irish Studies Centre, Polytechnic of North London and Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool University

1989

Guildford Four released from prison

70,600 emigrate from the Republic of Ireland in total whilst 15,600 emigrate from Northern Ireland to Britain

1990

Mary Robinson becomes first female President of Ireland and lights a candle in her window to recognise the Irish diaspora

Jack Charlton’s Ireland team, featuring 16 British-born Irish footballers, reaches quarter-finals of the World Cup in Italy

1991

Birmingham Six released from prison

1993

IRA bombs in Warrington prompt condemnation by Federation of Irish Societies

Decriminalisation of homosexuality in Republic of Ireland

1994

Riverdance at Eurovision Song Contest popularises Irish dance across the diaspora and enhances perception of Irish culture abroad

1995

Mary Robinson speech in which she says the Irish diaspora “remain, even while absent, a precious reflection of our growth and change, a precious reminder of the many strands of identity which compose our story”

Divorce referendum passes in Republic of Ireland removing constitutional prohibition on divorce

1998

Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement signed

2001

Irish included as ethnicity on UK census for the first time

2008

Financial crash ends ‘Celtic Tiger’ era triggering return to large-scale emigration from Republic of Ireland

2012

Federation of Irish Societies initiates Cuimhne memory loss campaign and Irish survivors in Britain project

2013

Federation of Irish Societies becomes Irish in Britain

2015

Marriage Equality referendum passes in Republic of Ireland, making it the world’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote

2016

Brexit referendum initiates series of constitutional problems relating to the Irish border

2018

Abortion referendum passes in Republic of Ireland to repeal the Eighth Amendment and remove constitutional ban on abortion

2020

Irish community in Britain plays vital role during Covid-19 pandemic