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Catherina Casey was Chair of the The Mayor of London's St. Patrick's Festival Advisory Forum from 2009 - 2019 and championed the development of the festival in becoming inclusive and representative of Irish culture and society's growing diversity. 

" I was invited to join the St. Patrick's Festival Advisory Forum in 2008 as the representative for the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith which I was managing at that time. In 2009, I was appointed Chair and Gary Dunne, Director of Culture, for London Irish Centre in Camden, was appointed deputy Chair.
Taking over from Norah Casey as Chair of the Festival Advisory Forum was a huge responsibility. During Ken Livingstone's tenure as Mayor of London the support for the St. Patrick's festival from the Mayor's office was strong. However, with Boris Johnson as Mayor, support was best described as tepid though funding continued to be provided to support the festival.  

From my personal perspective, I was aware how so many before us had fought the hard fight for the right to parade and celebrate being Irish in the heart of London. It is a city where the Irish have knitted themselves, inextricably, into the fabric of society and you can find our mark on buildings, hospitals, schools, churches, hospitality, entertainment, transport and more! Therefore, I was acutely aware that we are torchbearers and, for those of us in the Mayor's St. Patrick's Festival Forum, this was an important consideration. 
My key goals were to nurture the festival to embrace and reflect the changing social landscape of Ireland and Irish culture, to ensure that Irish of all generations were included in our celebrations and to showcase our society and culture to Londoners of all backgrounds and welcome their involvement. 
As I stepped down in 2019, I looked at the group of people around the table at my final Advisory Forum meeting as Chair. Around the table was a wonderful group of people representing our roots, our diversity and inclusivity, our culture and, ultimately, our progress. I felt privileged to have been part of it. " Catherina Casey

2009 - 2019

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