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Kenny has forgotten Ulster Presbyterians

Much praise has been given - and rightly so - to the speech by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on St Patrick's Day in Washington.

Knowing that the media can only broadcast soundbites, I have checked this against the Government website.

It is unfortunate that Enda Kenny omitted some salient facts, which distort the contribution made by our forefathers from this island to the development of the United States.

Kenny said: "Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore."

Given that the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, this suggests that he was only making reference to the Famine Irish.

It was during the life of George Washington, to whom he referred, that some 200,000 citizens left these shores for America.

They left for the same reasons - "because deprived of liberty, opportunity, safety and even food itself".

The vast bulk of these citizens who left Ireland in the 18th century were Ulster Presbyterians.

Seventeen Presidents can trace their ancestry to the Presbyterians of Ulster origin, who emigrated to the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries.

It is unfortunate that the migration of Ulster Presbyterians in the 17th and 18th centuries appears to have been left out of what was otherwise an excellent speech.

BRIAN KENNAWAY

Presbyterian minister (retired)

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