R 107
2000-H 8042
Enacted 3/16/2000

H  O  U  S  E     R  E  S  O  L  U  T  I  O  N


Introduced By:  Representatives McNamara, Garvey, McCauley, Reilly and Garabedian Date Introduced:  March 14, 2000

WHEREAS, Over one hundred fifty years have passed since The Great Irish Famine. This catastrophic tragedy, precipitated by a recurring potato crop failure and worsened by acts of the British government which ignored the plight of the people, caused millions of Irish people to perish or emigrate from their homeland; and

WHEREAS, By 1845, the majority of the Irish people depended on the potato as the main ingredient of their diet and their economy, and by 1847, ninety percent of the potato crop was diseased by the fungus, Phytophthora infestans; and

WHEREAS, The worst year of the Great Famine in Ireland, 1847, commonly referred to as "Black '47", was compounded by severe winds, a hurricane, torrential rains, hail, and snow, all while hundreds of thousands of impoverished people were evicted from their rented homesteads to increase the grazing pastures for wealthy landlords. During this same time, over one million pounds sterling worth of food was exported out of Ireland by British merchants and the few wealthy Irish landowners; and

WHEREAS, Crowds of Irish people lined up and waited for food at government soup kitchens, which fed up to three million people each day during the first half of 1847, yet were closed entirely by September 1847. Those who were able to work, suffered terrible conditions in workhouses to receive financial assistance from the government that often came late, if at all; and

WHEREAS, Many Rhode Islanders directly and indirectly descend from the Irish people who fled the Great Famine and emigrated to the United States between 1845 and 1850. The early Irish immigrants worked in the textile and base metals industries and on major public works projects such as the construction of Ft. Adams in Newport, the building of the Blackstone Canal and the building of the first railroads into Providence during the 1830's; and

WHEREAS, There are approximately 200,000 Rhode Islanders of Irish descent, the State's largest ethnic group, and most are Roman Catholic. Historically active in politics, religion, and law, the Irish embrace the entire range of the ideological spectrum; and

WHEREAS, We must remember as well other violations against our fellow man, including the period of the transatlantic slave trade and the middle passage, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Mussolini Fascist Regime, and other recognized human rights violations and genocides. The citizens of our state are also urged to study the Great Hunger in an effort to better understand its impact on those of Irish descent and learn its meaning for application to the world today; and

WHEREAS, The General Assembly recognizes the importance of teaching our youth ethical and moral behavior, specifically relating to human rights violations, genocide issues, slavery, the mass starvation in Ireland, and the Holocaust; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, That all citizens of the state of Rhode Island understand the impact of this tragedy on those of Irish descent and further understand the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to city and town clerks throughout the State of Rhode Island.

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