Irish Ambassador to US urges Sons of St Patrick to consider name change

Anne Anderson also asks oldest Irish-American group to consider becoming more inclusive of women

Irish Ambassador the the US Anne Anderson: wants to project “a modern, 21st-century Ireland” in her new role. Photograph: Marty Katz

Irish Ambassador the the US Anne Anderson: wants to project “a modern, 21st-century Ireland” in her new role. Photograph: Marty Katz

 


Ireland’s first woman Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, has asked the oldest Irish-American group to consider changing its name and becoming more inclusive of women.

Ms Anderson, who took over as Ambassador in Washington last month, told the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, an Irish-American fraternal society dating back to the 18th century, that she would “love to see them evolve towards a new title of the Friendly Sons and Daughters of St Patrick”.

She believes the name change may take time but she has opened up discussions with the group, which she hopes will be “very constructive” and “frank”.

“Change is not going to happen overnight but they are open to dialogue,” she said in an interview with The Irish Times, referring to a meeting she had with the society’s Washington DC men-only chapter, founded in 1928.

Ms Anderson, who wants to project “a modern, 21st-century Ireland” in her new role, pointed to the non-partisan and non-discriminatory roots of the Friendly Sons.

“That is something to be embraced but we should discuss how that might be applicable in the 21st century,” said Ms Anderson, a career diplomat who was the first female Irish ambassador to France, the European Union in Brussels and the United Nations in Geneva and New York.

Brian Connolly, president of the Friendly Sons’ DC chapter, declined to say whether the group would change its name, saying it would be inappropriate to comment before talking to the overall organisation about the proposal.


Strong career
Mr Connolly said he was “not surprised” that a woman had been appointed Irish Ambassador given the “very strong” career she has had.

The group was looking forward to hosting the Ambassador at an event in the coming 10 days, he said.

Some Irish-American groups have long-standing traditions of excluding women from St Patrick’s Day events.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore ruled out a visit to Savannah, Georgia, in March because he would not attend a men-only Hibernian Society dinner.


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