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This debate pack was prepared in advance of a debate on the contribution of the Irish diaspora to Britain.

Irish people in Britain have contributed hugely to life here across a wide range of sectors, and the lives of Irish and British people have been intertwined for millennia.

Niall Gallagher, chairman of Irish Heritage, an organisation that celebrates the work of Irish writers, composers, singers and musicians who are trying to build careers in Britain and beyond, has described the contribution of the Irish to the cultural life of Britain as “incalculable”.

For decades Irish labour was “indispensable” to the British construction industry, with Irish workers part of the teams that built the earliest tunnels for the London Underground network, as well as more modern works such as the Victoria Line.

Irish people have also contributed greatly to the National Health Service, and Irish President Michael Higgins paid tribute to their service during his 2014 State Visit to the UK. As of September 2021, 13,971 members of NHS staff in England reported their nationality as Irish, this includes just under 2,400 doctors, and over 4,500 nurses.

Two British Prime Ministers, William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, were born in Ireland. Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland when both held office.


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