Bairbre de Brún in Canada for St. Patrick’s Day
(from An Phoblacht/Republican News, Thursday January 31, 2002)
Bairbre de Brún celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Irish communities in Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal from March 15 to 17. The Health Minister kicked off her Canadian visit on Friday, March 15 by joining with 1,200 people at the annual Ireland Fund of Canada’s St. Patrick’s Day luncheon in Toronto. That evening, de Brún received a rousing welcome from over 150 members of the local Irish community at a Friends of Sinn Féin (FOSF) Canada dinner held at the Brampton Irish Centre. She briefed the audience on the status of the peace process and the drive for a united Ireland. She also took time to discuss health issues with Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a prominent Member of Parliament from Toronto who was in attendance.
On Saturday, March 16, de Brún travelled to Ottawa to participate in that city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. She received a warm welcome from the crowds watching the parade as she made her way along the route in the back of an open air convertible. After attending a successful afternoon reception organized by FOSF (Canada) near Parliament Hill, Minister de Brún joined in an evening of dance and music at a local Comhaltas céilidh. At the céilidh, de Brún met and congratulated members of Galway’s championship football team, who had brought the Sam Maguire Cup all the way to Canada’s national capital.
De Brún ended her tour with a visit to Montréal. She joined Québec dignitaries at the head of Montréal’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, watched this year by over 700,000 people. The Health Minister was accompanied by the Mayor of Montréal, Gerald Tremblay, the Québec Minister of Municipal Affairs, André Boisclair, the leader of the Bloc Québecois party, Gilles Duceppe MP, and the Honourable Warren Allmand, former Solicitor General of Canada.
Following the parade, the Sinn Féin representative attended a reception in her honour at the offices of the St. Jean de Baptiste Society, where she was officially welcomed by Mayor Tremblay and Minister Boisclair. After the reception, she attended a function organized by the GAA and met with leaders of the Montréal Irish community.
The day ended with a social organized by Friends of Sinn Féin (Canada), where de Brún addressed a packed room on the need for continued international support for Sinn Féin and the Irish peace process.