Britain has done some good things for Ireland – why can't scrapping Brexit be one of them?

Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson meeting at Thornton Manor in Cheshire: EPA

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.

Seriously, thanks.

Dr Alan Rossiter
Greystones

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