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SLIP - Sierra Leone Partnership Ireland SLIP.ie – Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership

63rd SL Independence day Celebration

A very successful Independence day celebration was held yesterday to honour 63 years of Independence in SL. The event was organised by the SL Community in Ireland, led by Ms. Betsy Sam and her hardworking team. A large crowd attended, over 100, mainly SL people living in Ireland and a much smaller number of Irish people who know and worked in SL.

The event was opened by Betsy Sam who introduced a minute’s silence for prayer of each person’s choice, followed by a minute’s silence for the people who travelled to Ireland from SL and have died here.

The MC who conducted the rest of the day beautifully was Ms. Yeama Florence.

The guest speaker of the day was the local Co. Co. Mr. Ronan McMahon (Independent) who spoke of the need to warmly welcome the deep rooted connections between our 2 countries. He recognised the work of SLIP for over 30 years in holding this significant link. He also spoke of the need to have greater equality between the richer countries of the North and those of the Southern hemisphere. He referenced his own introduction to SL from his secondary school days as he attended St. Mary’s School run by the Spiritans. He also spoke of the need to support quality education in SL.

Mr. Joe Manning the Honorary Consul for SL in Ireland congratulated the organisers who prepared the event wonderfully. In particular he thanked the wonder worker Betsy Sam. Joe then expressed appreciation of the great connections between our 2 countries. He acknowledged the honour it is for him to be the Honorary Consul for SL people in Irl. He pointed out that there is a need for more people in Ireland to work for the businesses and services in the country and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. He spoke in particular to the younger people present and urged them to avail of all the education opportunities that emerge for them. The future is brighter for the better educated, and advised the young school going population listening to continue in education for as long as they can. He wished all present a very happy Independence Day.

Mr. Ibrahim Bah spoke of the 63 years since Independence and how the country has navigated the challenges of war and disease. He thanked people for attending in such large numbers and wished people a happy Independence Day. He urged the diaspora to behave in a responsible manner and to be a source of encouragement to the hard working citizens in SL. He emphasised the need to maintain a positive attitude while demanding justice and accountability for the people of SL.

Dr. Liam McGlynn spoke on behalf of the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership (SLIP). He extended congratulations to all the people of SL celebrating 63 years of Independence. He sent special wishes to Ambassador Fitzpatrick and the staff in the Irish Embassy in Freetown. Liam highlighted the work of SLIP in maintaining the link between both countries for over 30 years, and named the 3 founder members present who were Jim Owens, Martin Rowan, and Geraldine Horgan. He also acknowledged and named people who formed the Management Committees over the many years. He acknowledged that the emphasis was changing from supporting projects and issues in SL to the more recent emphasis on dealing with issues for SL people living in Ireland. He said that there has been some assessment within SLIP of its continuing role. Liam thanked the organisers of the day for preparing the Hall so beautifully and the people who prepared so much wonderful ‘SL chop’. He informed people that the SLIP book ‘Leaves from the Cotton Tree’ was for sale in the hall. He also said he has been reliably informed that there are green shoots emerging from the fallen Cotton tree in Freetown and hoped green shoots continued to form for the continuing relationship between our 2 countries.

The speeches were interspersed with short quizzes for the the youngest ones, then for the teenagers and finally questions for the adults! A good fun atmosphere was created.

The speeches were followed by SL singing and dancing by the children present.

Later in the evening there was a wide menu of SL dishes offered to all present. The food was greatly appreciated and very highly commended by the connoisseurs.

(All the speeches will be put on the website in due course)