If You’re Irish, Come into the Parliament

March 16, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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The Irish parliament sent a special emissary to Sydney to participate in this week’s St Patrick’s Day celebration…Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Walt Secord, Minister Alan Shatter, Luke Foley and Eriz Roozendaal pic: Henry Benjamin

Minister Shatter is the only Jewish member of the Dublin-based Irish parliament and is Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence in the Irish Government.

Yesterday he visited the NSW Parliament and was welcomed by Walt Secord, deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel with fellow Parliamentary Friends of Israel executive members, Eric Roozendaal and Luke Foley, who is also Opposition leader in the NSW Legislative Council.

Following the meeting, Minister Shatter joined the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Ireland at a function featuring Irish musicians.

Shatter, a 61-yr-old solicitor became Minister of Justice a year ago. He was first elected to the parliament in 1981 holding his seat until 2002. He was re-elected in 2007.

Secord said it was an honour to meet and welcome Minister Shatter to the NSW Parliament.

“I reckon he is Ireland and Dublin’s second most famous Jewish identity – the first being Leopold Bloom,” Mr Secord said.

Australian Workers Union official Andrew Casey posted on his Facebook page:

“My great Irish story I’ve been regaling people with for 27 years involves this guy. I was in London for Fairfax newspapers when in 1986 the Irish government decided to celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary -two years early. They invited to Ireland some great Irish-Australians to discuss the Irish contribution to Australian culture. Thomas Kenneally was there; so was Senator Susan Ryan and a long long list of people I won’t bore you with names. I turn up at Dublin airport to be met by a flack from the Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs who with my surname insists I get on my knees and kiss the soil of Mother Ireland. Embarrassed I quickly explain I have zip to do with Ireland. Actually I am a Hungarian Jew whose parents took him to Australia at a young age. When in 1961 we got naturalized my parents chose what they thought was a good Anglo name to fit in – little did they know! The Irish flack laughed uproariously and refused to take me to my hotel. Instead he took me to the Dail, the Irish Parliament, and introduced me to the three Irish Jewish MPs of the day. Each belonged to a different Irish political party.The Foreign Affairs guy thought it was the funniest thing that I was called Casey and was Jewish! I didn’t roll into my hotel room until very late that night after many a Guiness. Shatter, confirmed there were three Jewish MPs from different political parties in 1986. – but he is the last one standing. I’ve dined out on this story so often that someone in NSW Parl’t remembered and invited me along today for a Guinness with the Minister.”

Alan Shatter told J-Wire: “This could be the Irish Australian Friends of Israel”.

Ireland has produced a president of Israel…the late Chaim Herzog.

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