Here is my take on Lucie McInerney's Voices article, "Some home truths about the relationship between the UK and Ireland" (12/10/2019).
Ask the average Irish(wo)man what did the English ever give us?
Famine, annoyance and 800 years of oppression would be a common enough answer.
In truth, you gave us your language (but tried to stop us from speaking ours); our parliamentary system; our civil service; our laws (on the day of independence British law became Irish law – a bit like on Brexit day EU law becomes British law); our courts system, wigs and all; our trains; our country houses (the ones we didn’t burn down in 1921). Oh – the sewers. You gave us them too. And they’re great, thanks.
What you did not give us was our sense of humour (but it’s not a lot different from yours, to be honest); our love of the chat and the craic; our irreverence; our manners; our disdain of pomposity and privilege; our inability to understand your aristocracy. We love a cup of tea, but for some reason it seems very different than the way the English have tea. No fine china and raised pinkies over here, just a mug in the hand and milk from the carton.
We actually like you as individuals – you are good, decent, honest, friendly, polite and funny people. But whatever it is, when you get together as a group you turn into, well, eejits. I mean, who on earth thinks that you are better off leaving a free trade block of the 500 million wealthiest people in the world, right on your doorstep, to go and try to make deals elsewhere. “We can go off and trade with the (=our) commonwealth”. Bollox. Do you not understand that “The Commonwealth” is just a nice name for all the countries that you previously invaded and plundered and oppressed, only for you to be booted out once they got their act together?
Instead of moaning just get stuck in and lead Europe, you can be one of the big three, you can counterbalance France and Germany, and we will all be better for it.
And stop going on about the war. It’s over, ok?
All we really care about is that there’s going to be no trouble over here. The EU and its single market resulted in the economic border (the one you put there) in Ireland going away. With peace, the military border (the one you put there) went. We do not want either back. And we do not want to give one gram (or, in your parlance, 0.035274 of an ounce) of an excuse for the madmen of violence to do their evil doings again. It suits both sides just as it is and we’re not seeing people blown to bits or dead in a ditch any more.
To nationalists, it all feels like one big united country, you can drive around and trade without any barriers nor borders, you can watch RTE, you can play hurling and Gaelic football for your parish and your county and win an All-Ireland medal. To Unionists they are still British, the signs are in miles, the TV still has the BBC, they have their UK passports, they have the NHS (we’d take that). Both sides have been lulled into a sense of cognitive dissonance. And both support Ireland in rugby, cricket and, oddly, axe throwing. And it works. Don’t meddle with it, please, with your talk of no-deal Brexit and the inevitable border checks and infrastructure it will bring.
And finally – for the majority of the time since 1801, Ireland has been as much a part of the United Kingdom as, well, England has. Did you know that? Thought not. Go back and learn some of your UK (not just British) history, will you, and then you might understand a bit more about us, and in turn yourselves.
Damn. One last thing. Thanks for Monty Python, Queen, The Who, Pink Floyd, Father Ted (yes, you made it!), Mrs Brown’s Boys (snap) and for taking so many of us in when we had nothing here for all those years.
Dr Alan Rossiter
Johnson has gone too far
I absolutely agree and believe everything that Betty Davies wrote (Letters, 12 October). Surely all positive-thinking people think the same way. There must be something that can be done to remove Boris Johnson. If everyone behaved like him the country would collapse. It is so depressing that he seems to get away with lies and disrespect for anyone who gets in his way. Then there are the scandals with Jennifer Arcuri and Carrie Symonds... It just goes on and on. To think he is our PM beggars belief.
The idea that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove et al deserve credit for possibly avoiding the total disaster of a no-deal Brexit as opposed to the partial disaster of Brexit is so absurd it is beyond comprehension.
It is entirely the same as saying Donald Trump deserves credit for threatening economic sanctions on Turkey for the horrific and deadly new violence on the Turkish/Syrian border that he green-lighted...
A new strategy for XR
Extinction Rebellion is totally justified with their protests demanding radical change to save the planet. However, what the movement must not do is become anti-politics. We too often hear the cry that politicians are all the same and incapable of listening. This is wrong.
Maybe, PM Boris Johnson panders to that stereotype, dismissing the protesters as "crusties," while his pro-fracking, emission exporting government does little to address the challenges.
But what of others? The Labour Party has a bold Green Deal in line with most of Extinction Rebellion's demands. The Greens too and the SNP in Scotland have progressive ideas.
Many councils across the land have declared climate emergencies and are radically changing the way things are done. While progress may not be as rapid as some may hope, the impetus is there.
Extinction Rebellion and others need to keep up the pressure for more rapid change but please don't lump all politicians together as useless.
They need to effect the changes to save the planet, afterall, who else will? The CEOs of the oil, gas and coal industries? I think not.
Paul Donovan, Labour councillor for the London Borough of Redbridge
Hosting Nato leaders
I hope that the guest list for the Queen's reception at Buckingham Palace welcoming NATO leaders in December will omit the man who, even as I write, is slaughtering and displacing innocent civilians in Syria. His name? Erdogan of course: the despot who also imprisons authors and political opponents.
I enjoyed Holly Baxter's article on American origins ("Why do so many Americans want to hide their nationality?" 9 October). When I was working in the deep south a couple of decades ago, a waitress, hearing us speak, asked, "Where you guys all from?"
"England", we replied.
"Gee", she said. "Is that near Paris, France?"