Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Mary Toomey (Valarasan) : “I would consider every child born in this country as Irish”

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On August 12 2020 the Irish Times published an interview with a citizen who came to work study and live in Ireland in 1967.  Her name is Mary Toomey; she was born in Sri  Lanka.  I asked myself : was this the same woman who  got a job teaching in Sandymount High School (SHS), and was known by her pre-marriage surname, Valarasan? I did some searching, found out my guess was correct, and established direct contact. I was one of her SHS pupils, starting in September 1967.

Dr Mary Toomey, an Ecologist

A copy of the interview is at the link below :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/28f3db3uism75fa/Mary%20Toomey%20%28Valarasan%29.pdf?dl=0

See Also https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/once-you-are-not-lily-white-or-freckle-skinned-you-are-labelled-as-non-irish-1.4316508

A good description of Sandymount High School, which

was founded in 1947 and was initially controversial because, as a non-denominational school, it wasn’t owned by a church but by the Cannon family[1], who also provided the two headmasters the school had: father and son Patrick and Conall Cannon. Patrick’s wife Eileen Cannon also served as headmistress.

The school’s student body was arguably drawn from several distinct groups: those from a local council estate called Beech Hill, the offspring of parents disenchanted with denominational/same sex schools, students on the Malahide/Howth to Bray rail corridor and the 3 & 18 bus routes, and foreign nationals who paid tuition fees.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandymount_High_School?wprov=sfti1

In those days, unlike in 2020, very few people born outside Ireland lived and worked in a country famous for exporting its people. The Irish constitution stated that everyone born in Ireland (on both sides of the border dividing Ireland into two states)  automatically was a citizen of the state.

On June 12 2004 voters amended the constitution on a day of shame – the definition of “citizen” changed.

Mary Toomey observes

I would consider every child born in this country as Irish. But the problem is, once you are not lily-white or freckle-skinned, you are still labelled as non-Irish or a non-national.”

The protection of children – regardless of nationality, race, caste, creed, physical and mental disability or socio-economic status – should be Ireland’s primary focus, she says. But, 16 years on from the referendum, Dr Toomey says racism towards children of colour in Ireland has become noticeably worse.

I was an activist in the “Vote No” campaign.

Two items arguing against the new citizenship rules are below. Read the rest of this entry »