In light of the successful Holocaust Survivors suit and the pending Afro-American Slavery Reparation suits, a young Irish-American lawyer named Kevin O’Leary is preparing to file a class action suit on behalf of Irish Americans. The suit names as defendants Queen Elizabeth II, the British royal family, the British and Irish governments, the Cunard ship lines, Lloyds of London, Lord George Russell, Lord Cecil Castelreagh, and other, as yet undesignated British, Irish, and American companies and individuals, who, the suit alleges, profited from the Irish Potato famine of 1845-1849 and the subsequent eviction and deportation of the Irish peasants affected by the famine.
The suit alleges that the defendants named, conspired to deny relief to the Irish and then profited by illegally seizing the property of the plaintiffs and causing them to be deported from their ancestral homeland. The suit alleges that this was a policy instituted by the British government at the time with the knowledge and support of Queen Victoria, the great, great grandmother of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II.
Lord George Russell is the descendant of Lord John Russell, the prime minister at the time of the famine, and Lord Cecil Castelreagh is the descendant of Lord James Castelreagh the Lord Governor of Ireland at the time. These suit claims that these individuals and the governments named instituted policies, which left the Irish plaintiffs vulnerable to the effects of the famine and facilitated the later evictions and deportations which not only deprived the Irish plaintiffs of their civil rights but also in some cases led to death. The companies named in the suit, profited from this government policy. Either through the unlawful seizure of Irish land left vacant by the deportees or, as in the case of Cunard, by providing transport for the government in deporting the Irish. The suit is claiming damages in excess of $500 million. Mr. O’Leary stated, “It would have been fine if the English government had admitted their culpability in the famine and apologized to the Irish. But since there has been no such admission of guilt, perhaps this will get their attention.
Buckingham Palace and Tony Blair, the current prime minister, have refused to comment. Neither Lord Castelreagh nor Lord Russell could be reached for comment. A spokesman for Cunard has dismissed the suit as “frivolous and ridiculous.” The Irish government has denied all liability on the grounds that it did not exist at the time. The Irish Republic was not declared until 1919.
On a side note, Mr. O’Leary has been named as a defendant in a suit by the Society for Justice for Chicago. The suit was filed for damages sustained in the great fire of Chicago and alleges that Mr. O’Leary’s great, great grandmother’s cow was responsible.