Sadhbh Walshe is a filmmaker and journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times,The Irish Times and Al Jazeera. She was a staff writer for the TV series The District. Her screenplay, The Fiddler, is a 2017 PAGE Award and Slamdance finalist.
At this St. Patrick’s Day, one could be fooled into thinking that the Irish-American community is as robust as ever. But changes to US immigration rules have largely closed the door to new entries, leading inexorably to a “graying” of Irish America. I didn’t realize when I came here in the late 1990s that thanks to multiple failed attempts at immigration reform, the conveyor belt of Irish immigration would more or less stop with my generation. What that means for Irish-American identity in general, and the New York Irish in particular, is becoming a pressing issue.
It would seem that the ruling conservative party, Fine Gael, has already decided that there will be no great liberalizing of abortion laws in Ireland, no matter the unexpectedly liberal results of a recent Citizens’ Assembly vote. If this is indeed how it plays out, aside from the implications for women’s health, it will mean the party will have disregarded a meticulous exercise in deliberative democracy that it put in place (at considerable cost to the taxpayer), simply because it wasn’t satisfied with the results or because those results were not politically expedient.