Federation of Irish Societies

Leading FIS officials argued throughout the conflict that the IRA campaign exacerbated anti-Irish prejudice in Britain. During the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain in the early 1990s, for instance, FIS chair Liamy McNally worried that discrimination against the Irish in Britain ‘can be greatly increased by the activities of the Provisional IRA, whose destructive and murderous campaign of terror on the British mainland is totally and unequivocally disowned by the Irish community’.

The FIS was renamed the Irish in Britain in 2013, and remains a major campaigning group on behalf of the Irish diaspora to this day.



Formed in 1973 to galvanise the rising number of Irish centres nationwide, the FIS positioned itself as the 'official' voice of the Irish in Britain. Although some of the leading figures in the FIS aspired to Irish reunification, they abhorred and condemned the IRA campaign, preferring constitutional politics. In 1984, for example, when the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton in an attempt to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – the bomb killed five and injured dozens more – Tommy Walsh, founding chair of the FIS, lamented that the bomb would ‘set back any advancement for a political solution to the Northern Ireland troubles many, many years’. The IRA, Walsh asserted, did not speak for the Irish community in Britain, but represented only a ‘very small minority’.

Calling for greater support from the Dublin government for emigrants in Britain, the FIS lobbied officials at the Irish Embassy and government ministers. By the early 1980s, the FIS represented some 70 Irish societies across Britain. An FIS delegation to Dublin met Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Barry, demanding welfare and travel assistance for older Irish emigrants who were estimated to have sent home some £2.8 billion in remittances during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Create Your Own Website With Webador