In search of a living wage

September 24, 2012

Record levels of inequality in New Zealand would shock Irish immigrants who came to this country to make a better life.

‘This is a good country for working men as some men have from ten to twelve shillings per day,’ wrote Manawatu farmer’s wife Catherine Sullivan in 1905. ‘It is not like home. The worst men here won’t come to work for less than 7/- per day, and only work from 8 to 5pm.’

Catherine, an Irish immigrant, was writing to her brother-in-law in Ballingarry, Co Limerick, describing what he might find should he decide to follow her(1).

Many Irish, Scots and English came here to create a better life and to escape the poverty of their homelands. In recent decades, Pacific migrants have been doing the same. Read the rest of this entry »


Ireland at the film festival

August 12, 2012

Three Irish movies at the film festival throw light on an Irish heritage. All are worth seeing.

Bernadette: keeping the faith

Whatever happened to Bernadette Devlin? In the early 1970s she was every Catholic rebel’s darling, a mini-skirted Northern Irish protest leader constantly in the news.

The young Bernadette Devlin

‘Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey’ reminds us what a firebrand she was. In 1972 she was a 25-year-old MP when Home Secretary Reginald Maudling claimed that British soldiers who killed 13 unarmed Catholics on Bloody Sunday had fired in self defence. Devlin stormed across the House of Commons and slapped him on the face. When a reporter later asked if she regretted using violence, she exploded: ‘Thirteen people are dead and you’re asking me about using violence!’ When the reporter persisted, Devlin replied that her only regret was she hadn’t grabbed Maudling by the throat. Read the rest of this entry »

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