Page 1220 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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numerous members of the community that were excited by the fact that there were over 5,000 motorcyclists crammed into one area and having fun, laughing, and talking to each other with no trouble from any Rebels.

It was my official duty to deliver the speech on behalf of the Chief Minister. I made my way to the front of the gathering to commence my speech. As I have mentioned before, there were over 5,000 motorcyclists, so it took quite some time. It also gave me the chance to talk to a number of them. All of the members and riders I got to talk to at the end of the grand parade were overjoyed at the fact that Canberra was such a wonderful place to have their AGM. They also commented on how well they were treated by all those they came across.

I continued that day visiting the trade stalls at EPIC that were open to 5,000 motorcyclists, attended by not one Rebel. That evening, I attended the AGM dinner and, as I have mentioned numerous times tonight, there were no Rebels present causing any trouble. Although there were over 5,000 riders at the grand parade that day, there were only 3,000 members at the dinner that night. But, yet again, no Rebels were in sight.

Mr Pratt should not show such ignorance to alternative members of our society. The Rebels wear what they consider to be earned colours, not T-shirts, as Mr Pratt is reported in Hansard as saying. If Mr Pratt actually started to take part in some of the community’s events and functions, instead of trying to raise a second-hand story from the Canberra Times, lying in bed on Sunday morning, he might even get some of the facts correct.


MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.53): I was worried today would pass without mention of Ireland’s national day, St Patrick’s Day. I thank Mr Hargreaves for raising it, because it is an important part of the calendar. As many would know, from early days of European settlement in Australia, Irish men and women have made a significant impact on life in this country. Some were free settlers, some came as convicts and others were political prisoners. Nearly all, whether voluntary or not, were pleased to escape the deprivation of Ireland and seek a new life. There are members of this Assembly, including me, whose family left that terrible period in Ireland during the mid-1800s when so many people lost their lives through starvation.

Many went on to make important contributions to the broader Australian community and to this day continue to make highly valued contributions in various fields, not the least being in politics, where there are many people of Irish descent. One in three Australians has Irish origins and this is reflected in our national character. Humour, the sense of self-mockery, ideals of fair play, the dislike of pomp—which does not extend to discourtesy to visitors—and the celebration of noble failure are all characteristics of both Irish and Australian people. We all enjoy Irish jokes, and the Irish tell them the best. The Irish have been a magnificent group of contributors to the arts, to the classic fields, particularly music, in this country and in other parts of the world.

But today I would like to address the Assembly on a more serious issue, that of the unfortunate and appalling situation that continues to challenge Ireland—the association between the IRA and continuing violence. In February of this year, Irish justice minister,

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