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Spectating on Ireland and other pet hates

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 10:32:52 PM EST

In my more idle moments, and purely as a service to you, dear readers, I sometimes spend some time perusing the online editions of right-wing UK publications such as the Telegraph and The Spectator. There you will live in an alternative factual universe, where poor Britain is set upon by an evil EU, and worse still, is betrayed by its supposed allies.

Chief culprit, these days, seems to be the Republic of Ireland, which has been set upon an anti-British course by its demonic leader Leo Varadker. "Little Leo" (who stands 1.94 metres tall), stands accused of "do[ing] anything to suck up to the top gang in the EU playground..." and giving a "calculated two fingers to Brexit Britain" by applying for observer status at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie rather than rejoining the British Commonwealth.


In doing so, according to Spectator columnist, Robert Hardman, Ireland is joining a group of "flimsily-connected" countries with "deplorable human rights records" and "French-speaking crooks", some of whom appeared "at the bottom of every global corruption index" - in contrast to the Commonwealth where Irish athletes could win "hatfuls of medals" at the Commonwealth Games.  

In vain one might point out that most Irish people would have no difficulty in re-joining the Commonwealth as part of a settlement to reassure Unionists in a future united Ireland, but there is no pressing reason to do so now. However the Spectator does not allow reader's comments. Like a Victorian child, you might be seen, but you certainly should not be heard.

Indeed I am indebted to the Spectator for informing me that Ireland has in fact sought observer status at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie as this had not previously come to my attention. I suspect the Irish government thought of it as nothing more than a friendly gesture towards a fellow EU member and an opportunity for some diplomatic networking. I doubt too many in Ireland will lose much sleep over it even if some members have regrettable human rights records. Observer status doesn't give you much in the way of rights to tell others how to run their countries, something the Spectator still seems to regard as its birthright.

The next gem I came across was Liam Halligan's "Leo Varadkar has done his absolute best to damage Brexit" in which he enumerates the various ways in which closet Remainer politicians, traitorous civil servants, an overwhelmingly pro-Remain media and self-interested businessmen have sought to frustrate the noble ideals of Brexit. But worst of all is the subterfuge of Varadker, who has abandoned the constructive approach of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, and, wait for it, politicised the Irish border issue.

Who knew that an international boundary between EU and non EU members states could be political? Who knew that the creation of a border which caused a civil war in Ireland in 1922 and led to the Troubles in N. Ireland up until 1998 would be a matter of concern to the Irish government?

But the prize for stretching credulity to the point of incredibility must surely be John Waters' eye watering contribution "How the Irish see Brexit". Some background is appropriate here: John Water is an Irish Journalist and former partner of the singer Sinead O'Conner with whom he had a custody battle over their daughter. He supported the Iraq war, opposed gay marriage, and has been active in arch Roman Catholic  and right wing groups such as Communion and Liberation, the Iona Institute, and First Families First. He is also a founding member, with Nigel Farage, of the Irexit party which has at least 4 known party supporters.

Clearly Waters is eminently qualified to give an objective view of how the Irish view Brexit. He warms up his readers by recounting an incident where "his old friends" the Horslips band objected to the use of their music at the Irexit conference he spoke at:

Their intervention here was a particularly weird example of a new tendency not confined to Ireland: pop culture stalwarts pushing themselves to the cutting edge of consensus, standing four-square behind such as the, eh, European Commission, which beggared half of Europe in the decade just past.

This episode is emblematic of the broad Irish response to all things Brexit. A strange new groupthink has dissolved the lines between the establishment and the one-time `rebels' -- and the befuddled watching creatures look from one to the other and are unable to say which is which. The climate persisting in Britain since 24 June 2016 has completely taken Ireland in its grip and rendered common sense a rarity.

Apparently the Irish have become befuddled and lost all common sense in relation to Brexit. He is right about one thing though, opposition to Brexit has united Irish people almost right across the political spectrum, not just because of the economic damage it will do to Ireland, but because it is seen as putting the N. Ireland peace process at risk.

But his biggest whopper is:

Had an Irexit-promoting party contested the 2011 election it would have swept the board. Instead, we got Enda Kenny, the yes-man from Del Monte who liked to say `absolutely'. Now, having picked our own pockets for a decade, we've managed to convince ourselves that we pulled ourselves back on to the pig's back by our bootstraps, with a €200 billion debt we hardly ever mention.

Ultimately, Irish people don't really know what they're supposed to think about Brexit. The rebel spirit, which lies half-dormant underneath layers of propaganda and fear-mongering, whispers that we should support the right of British people to self-determination, but the official culture is deeply disapproving of such heresy, so everyone just keeps mum.

So as well as being befuddled and having lost all common sense, Irish people have been cowed into quelling their rebel spirit and keeping silent. The first I heard of it. Perhaps they're simply not saying what John Water's wants to hear.

Back at their conference in January 2018, the Irexit party were claiming that they would contest all constituencies in the 2019 Euro election. In the event they have nominated just one candidate, Hermann Kelly, a former editor of The Irish Catholic and director of communications for Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy  in the European Parliament, and who has also worked with Nigel Farage. Far from "sweeping the boards" I would be surprised if he gets 5% of the vote.

It's not that there isn't a market for a conservative Euro sceptic party in Ireland, and Peader Tobin (Ex-Sinn Fein member of parliament and conservative anti-abortion "catholic values" activist) may pick up quite a few votes for his new party, Aontú, in the local elections. However they aren't even contesting the European parliament elections. He is quite a shrewd political operator.

But John Water's reveals his real agenda further down the piece:

Secretly, Brexit has a lot more Irish supporters than you might gather from relying on the formal conversation, and the topic of demographic change is invariably high in the mix. The levels of immigration currently into Ireland are not (yet) at the level of other European countries, but they are disquieting enough for what had long been a relatively homogeneous culture. A cautious estimate suggests that one in five of the Irish population may now be non-nationals, a tripling in a decade. There are now more Poles in Ireland than migrants from the UK. Among the non-European categories, the most significant numbers are asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and South America. Many small Irish towns, in the least likely places, now play host to immigrant populations amounting to a quarter or a third. Although the influx has declined slightly since the heyday of the Celtic Tiger, there is still a steady growth, with significant numbers arriving more recently from Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Irish politicians and journalists talk a lot about the `crisis of homelessness' but never mention the real reasons.

Yes, there is a housing crisis in Ireland, chiefly in Dublin, where the booming economy is attracting a lot of foreign workers. But foreign immigrants have also revitalised many a declining rural Irish town or village, and the vast majority of the local population have embraced this increased diversity. It seems like a strange kind of Catholic piety which seeks to deny refuge to the destitute, as so many asylum seekers are.

Dear reader, you will be disappointed to learn I have now reached my limit of 3 free articles per month in the Spectator. For some reason I begrudge them a subscription. We are left to speculate about the contents of other articles such as "Lyra McKee's murder is nothing to do with Brexit." Lyra McKee was a journalist and gay activist killed a few days ago by a bullet fired by a "new IRA" volunteer when standing next to PSNI officers while reporting on a riot in the Creggan area of Derry. The Spectator appears to have a need to argue that Brexit has had no impact on increasing community tensions in N. Ireland.

Other enticing articles are entitled "How Britain can make life difficult for the EU during the Brexit extension"; "Mark Carney's replacement [as Bank of England Governor] must be a Brexiteer"; "Notre Dame is an architectural nullity"; "The trouble with Greta Thunberg"; "Is anything creepier than a `male feminist'?"; and "Brexit need not tear the Tories apart. Here's why"...

I think I may be detecting a pattern. As well as being anti-Irish, anti-Europe, boorish, xenophobic, anti-feminist, pro-climate change denial, and pro-Tory, the Spectator has a problem with anyone who doesn't see the world through their eyes.

There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.  - Jonathan Swift (amongst others).

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"Expectorating" seems more in line with their editorial policies.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 11:15:01 PM EST
The Spectator has probably never heard of Mauritius, the Seychelles, Dominica or Saint Lucia, who are both members of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie as well. English is the official language of these island nations, but serious business is often done in French and everyday business in créole. Not to mention Canada where the locals have the annoying habit of being fluent in both languages.

By the way, Ireland is not the first EU country to apply for observer status at the Francophonie: Cyprus, another Commonwealth member, is already a "membre associé". Cyprus also has four exclaves on its territory, British military bases that are British Overseas Territories (Irish people can probably relate to that).

Better not mention Commonwealth member countries like Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nigeria or Papua New Guinea, who rank rather low on the Corruption Perception Index (along with French speaking countries, to be fair).

by Bernard on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 12:29:35 PM EST
The Irish Border is not impressed by the Spectator either:

by Bernard on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 02:46:11 PM EST
Very often cleaning out cookies resets the counter and, if/so, you'll be able to get 3 more articles!

(Huzzah)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 02:46:25 PM EST
to read more of their stuff...but my dedication to your service only goes so far...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 03:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 

Dear Sir,

I am indebted to you for informing me that Ireland has sought observer status at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie as this had not previously come to my attention.

I suspect the Irish government thought of it as nothing more than a friendly gesture towards a fellow EU member and an opportunity for some diplomatic networking.  Certainly, what little coverage I have since discovered in the Irish media has been mostly in the context of using it as an opportunity to improve the teaching of French in Irish schools.

However, for your columnist, Robert Hardman, our Taoiseach, Leo Varadker, "Little Leo", stands accused of "do[ing] anything to suck up to the top gang in the EU playground..." and giving a "calculated two fingers to Brexit Britain" by applying for observer status at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie rather than re-joining the British Commonwealth.

In doing so, according your columnist, Ireland is joining a group of "flimsily-connected" countries with "deplorable human rights records" and "French-speaking crooks", some of whom appeared "at the bottom of every global corruption index" - in contrast to the Commonwealth where Irish athletes could win "hatfuls of medals" at the Commonwealth Games.

Little matter that 17 other EU member states, including Cyprus, are also members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Little matter that Mauritius, the Seychelles, Dominica or Saint Lucia, other members of the Commonwealth, are also members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. And the less said about the human rights records of Commonwealth members Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nigeria or Papua New Guinea, the better.

The Irish Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O'Neill, has written to you accusing you of adopting an "anti-Irish tenor" in your recent publications, a charge you have robustly denied. Let me give you two further examples.

Your correspondent Liam Halligan "Leo Varadkar has done his absolute best to damage Brexit" accuses Varadker of abandoning the constructive approach of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, and politicising the Irish border issue.

Who knew that an international boundary between EU and non EU members states could be political? Who knew that the re-creation of a border which caused a civil war in Ireland in 1922 and led to the Troubles in N. Ireland up until 1998 would be a matter of concern to the Irish government?

I'm afraid the political nature of that border long predates Varadker's ascent to our highest office.

But the prize for stretching credulity to the point of incredibility must surely be John Waters' eye watering contribution "How the Irish see Brexit".  Apparently, Brexit has caused the Irish people to become "befuddled" and "to lose all common sense"; to become cowed into quelling their "rebel spirit" and keeping silent.

I'm afraid it is the first I heard of it. Perhaps they're simply not saying what John Waters' wants to hear.

John Waters has been on the wrong side of history on every argument in the Republic since the 1980's, arguing for the invasion of Iraq, and against marriage equality and abortion rights. He claims that "had an Irexit-promoting party contested the 2011 election it would have swept the board".

Let's see how his Irexit candidate, Hermann Kelly, does in the European Parliament elections in Dublin next month. I would be very surprised if he exceeded 5% of the vote. Hardly "sweeping the board".

This may not be the message from Ireland that you want to hear. But is not part of the problem with negotiating Brexit to date a failure to understand what the other side has been thinking?

Kind regards,

Frank Schnittger

(h/t Bernard, for some facts relating to the Francophonie  above!)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 03:23:45 PM EST
Happy to oblige :)

I had gathered the facts because fellow ETribers are interested in that kind of stuff (I know I am), but how dare you let them loose on the Spectator's Editorial board? Doncha know that facts have a well known anti-Brexit bias?

(Oh, and thanks for trawling that mud pit so that we don't have to)

by Bernard on Sat Apr 27th, 2019 at 12:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank, you diplomat, no mention of the UK's human rights record.
by rifek on Sat Apr 27th, 2019 at 09:08:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm trying to get THE SPECTATOR to publish my letter!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 27th, 2019 at 10:15:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Puttnam: `I feel no sense of identity for the country I grew up in'
As a member of the House of Lords he has worked to remind colleagues of the damage this meandering mess could do to Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations. In February he spoke at length about the power of the Irish lobby in America and how Britain's recklessness would not be forgiven, nor forgotten, should they seek a preferential trade agreement with the United States in the future.

Do those in "the other place" listen?

"I have grown increasingly incredulous, not just in terms of what I'm hearing but in terms of what I'm not hearing," he tells me. "The ignorance towards Ireland and Irish politics and history by British parliamentarians has come as an unbelievable shock to me. I started off being puzzled by it, then concerned and now downright angry."



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 28th, 2019 at 02:34:25 PM EST
Everybody knew there was going to be bother in the North
The events which were to culminate in the killing of Lyra McKee began with plans for a commemoration of the Easter Rising.

Saoradh, widely taken to be the political wing of the New IRA, had announced a march from the Creggan to the Republican plot in Derry city cemetery on Easter Monday for the traditional reading of the Proclamation, a message from the movement's "military" leadership, a rendition of the national anthem.

If the march had gone ahead it wouldn't have attracted a big crowd - a colour party in combat fatigues, a band piping rebel tunes, a straggle of followers, mostly young. A couple of hundred souls at most. In other circumstances, hardly anybody would have noticed.

The march would have been illegal. To have asked Stormont's parades commission via the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as required in law, for permission to march to the republican plot at Easter would have been seen and felt by Saoradh as shameful.

The PSNI will have been aware that if they weren't seen to make a determined effort to stop the march, they would be lashed by every unionist party and faction in the land.

Everybody knew there was going to be bother. In the days leading up to Lyra's death, there was a shimmer of anxiety in parts of the town. The bother, as always, would more or less exclusively have involved young people.

Eamonn McCann is an Irish politician, journalist and political activist from Derry, Northern Ireland. In the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election, he was elected as an MLA for the Foyle constituency. He is therefore well placed to report on feelings in the republician community in Derry.

Meanwhile, Arlene Foster says Lyra McKee's death was not caused by political vacuum. Not my fault, Guv. Sorry, Arlene, but you are the biggest, single, fault of the vaccum. You and that band of extreme Brexiteers of yours...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 28th, 2019 at 02:48:35 PM EST
An abreviated version of an earlier draft of my letter to the Editor has been published by the Irish Independent.

Letters to the Editor: 'For many spectators, claims about 'Little Leo' damaging Brexit are bordering on ridiculous'

In my more idle moments, I sometimes spend time perusing the online editions of right-wing UK publications such as 'The Spectator'. There you will live in an alternative factual universe, where poor Britain is set upon by an evil EU, and worse still, is betrayed by its supposed allies. Chief culprit, these days, seems to be the Republic of Ireland, which has been set upon an anti-British course by its demonic leader Leo Varadkar.

"Little Leo" (who stands 1.94 metres tall), stands accused of "do[ing] anything to suck up to the top gang in the EU playground..." and giving a "calculated two fingers to Brexit Britain" by applying for observer status at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie rather than rejoining the British Commonwealth.

In doing so, Ireland is joining a group of "flimsily connected" countries with "deplorable human rights records" and "French-speaking crooks", some of whom appeared "at the bottom of every global corruption index" - in contrast to the Commonwealth where Irish athletes could win "hatfuls of medals" at the Commonwealth Games.

In vain one might point out that most Irish people would have no difficulty in rejoining the Commonwealth as part of a settlement to reassure unionists in a future united Ireland, but there is no pressing reason to do so now. However, 'The Spectator' does not allow reader's comments. Like a Victorian child, you might be seen, but you certainly should not be heard. Indeed, I am indebted to 'The Spectator' for informing me that Ireland has in fact sought observer status at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie as this had not previously come to my attention.

I doubt too many in Ireland will lose much sleep over it, even if some members have regrettable human rights records. Observer status doesn't give you much in the way of rights to tell others how to run their countries, something 'The Spectator' still seems to regard as its birth right.

The next gem I came across was Liam Halligan's "Leo Varadkar has done his absolute best to damage Brexit", in which he enumerates the various ways in which closet Remainer politicians, traitorous civil servants, an overwhelmingly pro-Remain media and self-interested businessmen have sought to frustrate the noble ideals of Brexit. But worst of all is the subterfuge of Varadkar, who has abandoned the constructive approach of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, and, wait for it, politicised the Irish Border issue. Who knew that an international boundary between EU and non-EU members states could be political? Who knew that the creation of a Border which caused a civil war in Ireland in 1922 and led to the Troubles in the North up until 1998, would be a matter of concern to the Irish Government?



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 29th, 2019 at 01:53:50 AM EST


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