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Lessons from Ireland, a Phoenix rises out of its ashes of revolt. Optimism.

Today's Ireland is built on political compromise. The UK could learn from its success

The habit of mind is the one that the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, set out here last week when he wrote of the post-sectarian "ethical remembering" in which modern Ireland is reflecting on the centenaries of the state's birth between 1916 and 1922.

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These deaths form a potent reminder that Ireland and Britain were once places of harder-edged identities and allegiances than they are today. Some of these still endure, and should not be denied. Others have evolved into what Higgins called "post-sectarian possibilities for the future".

Nevertheless, modern Britain remains a reluctant pupil. It is too hung up about its own supposed greatness. Higgins is right that until the UK engages more openly with its own imperial past, little is likely to change. Britain urgently needs a more capacious and more pluralist view of its history if it too is to be a nation at ease with itself.

From the diaries ...

Defending Ireland

by Oui on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 07:36:32 AM EST
A Chara, - Finn McRedmond set up a classic straw man argument when she accused our President, Michael D Higgins, of intellectual laziness in casting "the entirety of British history as a monolithic, purely malign tale of imperialism" and of possessing "a unique level of arrogance to believe we are paragons of virtue in contrast; to believe that we are not in possession of our own "feigned amnesia"; and to believe we occupy a moral high ground thanks to a more nuanced understanding of the history of these two islands" in his article in the Guardian recently.  (Are we really entitled to lecture Britain about remembering? Opinion, 18th. February)

He does no such thing, but he has certainly touched a nerve in British Tory sensibilities, to judge by the vituperative anti-Irish tone in the Daily Telegraph response "The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history" and their readers' comments below. We all have our national myths, and no one has been more active than our President in seeking to question and understand ours. But in asking the British to consider there might be more than one side to the glories of their former empire he has clearly gone a bridge too far. They need their myths now, more than ever, to overcome the dystopian reality created by their Brexit overlords "taking back control".

The UK economy declined by 10% last year, which the UK government likes to blame entirely on the pandemic. But our economy grew by 2-3% last year despite the impact of the pandemic and is projected to grow by another 3-4% in each of the next two years despite the ongoing lockdowns and the impact of Brexit and a hugely reduced level of trade with Britain. Our exports to the UK declined by 9% and our UK imports by 5% last year, and that was before Brexit border controls were implemented. (Irish exports surge to record €160bn in 2020 despite pandemic, Business, Feb. 15th.) Meanwhile our exports to the EU single market and customs union grew by 13%, and so must our level of political engagement with the EU and our fellow member states.

Sadly, our president is wasting his time trying to persuade British Tories and their self-confessed supporter, Finn McRedmond, that they should reconsider the impact of their imperial past on their former colonies. They will find out soon enough, when they try to reassert their former dominance in trade negotiations with those countries. Our President and Irish Times opinion writers would serve us better by focusing on developing our political, cultural,  and economic links with our fellow EU members and neighbours, with whom we have rich historical associations and where our future now lies. Brexit was a choice to distance the UK from Ireland and our fellow EU member states, and we must now accept that reality and move on to developing our shared historical narrative and future with the latter.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 01:29:35 PM EST
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