26 April 2008

I just returned from two weeks and two days of project/volunteer visits in Northern Ireland and Ireland. The BVSers there and I retreated for a weekend at Corrymeela's Knocklayd house; the photo's the proof, I guess.
Last Sunday I heard on local radio in Belfast that that day (20 April) held two interesting anniversaries... The first was the 40th anniversary of MP Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech in 1968, in which he warned that rivers of blood would flow in the streets of the United Kingdom if laws were to continue allowing immigration from the Commonwealth; he was also opposed to new race relations' legislation. Quite a racist speech.
Ironically for us in BVS-Europe, Powell was the MP a few years later for an area of Northern Ireland in which one of our early BVS projects was located (Glebe House). With Powell's support, the BVSer there and BVSers in Northern Ireland thereafter were able to stay for a two-year term of service (instead of the usual 1-year-only for volunteers from the USA); this lasted from the 1980's until 2004. (We've been sending BVSers to N.Ireland since 1972. ) Then four years ago, UK Immigration rules tightened up and Enoch Powell's 2-year-BVS-legacy no longer sufficed for us.
But, I find it quite ironic that we got our privilege due to Mr Powell...
The second item on the 20th of April was the 400th anniversary of the 1608 licensing of the Bushmill's Whiskey Distillery, also in Northern Ireland. (No, we did not visit that during our retreat weekend! Not that I didn't suggest it...)
On that note... Cheers!