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5 Aug, 2019 16:34

Irish Times’ Brexit Sinn Féin fantasies betray fact that English-Irish misunderstanding is mutual

Irish Times’ Brexit Sinn Féin fantasies betray fact that English-Irish misunderstanding is mutual

The Irish Times, led by its celebrity brain du jour, believes Ireland can prevent a no-deal Brexit by pulling strokes in London, instead of Brussels. It’s a doltish recipe for disaster.

Around the turn of the millennium, Dublin’s “paper of record” had quite a few ‘star’ columnists. The most famous was Vincent Browne. Best described as a sort of Irish answer to John Pilger, with the earnestness removed and replaced by the sardonic delivery of Dave Allen.

Kevin Myers was another household name, a pseudo-toff who sounded posh, but probably wasn’t. Popular with the kind of people who are often nervous about publicly articulating their own views, the English-born journalist was always good for a controversy or ten dozen. 

However, the most interesting pair were John Waters and Fintan O’Toole. Both talented writers from working class backgrounds who represented the traditional Irish rural right and the growing urban liberal left, respectively.

Today, both are well-known outside Ireland. Waters is a popular speaker on the conservative Christian circuit. He also writes for the First Things journal and is employed at the Catholic University of Notre Dame. 

O’Toole has travelled a very different road. Over the past few years he’s been installed as a sort of secular Pope of the Irish liberal intelligentsia. And, right now, he’s becoming as ubiquitous in US/UK media as at home. 

Fintan is masterful essayist, particularly for readers who have a sound grasp of Greek philosophy. His recent New York Review of Books’ piece on Boris Johnson is as adroit, sublime, exquisite, and dexterous as anything you’ll read this year. 

Even when he’s laying it on a bit thick, it remains compelling. And he deserves all the acclaim, commendation and laudation directed his way since its recent publication. 

Also on rt.com Ireland needs to prepare for a border poll & plan for reunification; the alternative could be chaos

Big Brains

Nevertheless, and alas, it appears the Twitter standing ovations have gone to his head. On Friday, O’Toole dropped a bomb in The Irish Times which stretches credulity.

What’s more, the fact that so many prominent Irish politicians and media figures have promoted the suggestion, makes me sincerely worry for how my homeland is being guided.

First off, Brexit is an astounding and immense British act of self-harm. An archaic and antediluvian manoeuvre concocted in Oxbridge and Eton’s answers to the pit of hell. And no matter how it is performed, it’s going to hurt Ireland too. 

Now, here’s the gist of O’Toole’s scheme. As Sinn Féin doesn’t take its seats at Westminster, where the Conservative/DUP alliance just about has a majority, it should resign its vacant mandates and allow a cross-community bunch of folk from the north of Ireland to take them over and vote solely on Brexit. 

Once business is completed, and they’ve sufficiently subverted Johnson’s aspirations, these temporary seat-warmers will step down. Voilà, a plan so cunning even Blackadder should have no response. 

Except it’s harebrained. And the column itself reads like something a student would post on a blog, with the greatest of respect towards students who post on blogs. 

First of all, even if Sinn Féin did oblige Fintan, Johnson would immediately respond by calling a national election. Which he’d win by a handsome margin. Because the O’Toole blueprint requires Labour to move the by-election writ to allow his “dream-team” to take the Sinn Féin allocation. 

There’s probably nothing which could unite the British Conservatives, and divide Labour, quite like this folly. Just for a moment, imagine the fun Johnson’s Tories would have… a few weeks of travelling around England explaining to people how Jeremy Corbyn did a deal with “the IRA” to overturn Brexit, which, like it or not, was chosen by the electorate of the United Kingdom in a free and fair vote. By the end of it, you’d find Tories baying to wallop Dublin in the face. 

Labour itself would be toast, wiped out in its northern heartlands. Meanwhile, a couple of dozen of its MPs who are committed Brexiteers would presumably defect to the Brexit Party.

Also on rt.com Tory hardliners warn BoJo they’ll block May’s ‘dead’ Brexit deal, even without Irish backstop

No Comprehension 

For years, Irish journalists and politicians have accused counterparts in London of not understanding Ireland. These concerns are valid, and largely true. However, as O’Toole proves, the inverse is also the case. 

Ireland doesn’t understand England either. Like all citizens of small countries, the Irish will be dominated by someone. And given British rule was merciless, spiteful, and often tyrannical, it’s natural that Brussels, where we at least maintain some say, is seen as preferable to London. 

However, the English bear a different historical memory. They ruled an empire on which the sun, famously, never set, and still, incorrectly of course, see themselves as a leading global power. 

The UK also helped defeat Germany in two world wars. But today, many Brits believe the EU is under Berlin’s thumb, and they resent any notion of taking orders from ‘the Krauts.’ Perhaps they are wrong, but they are also entitled to their own views.  

While repeating that I believe Brexit to be an abhorrent act of folly, it’s also apparent Irish elites have developed their own illusions of grandeur. With less than three months left before the present October 31st deadline, that’s beyond reckless.

The Irish have long seen the English as haughty, indifferent, and standoffish.  Right now, our own liberal establishment is bereft of amenability. Led by Saint Fintan, they seek solace in delusion and chimera. 

Come November, assurance may be transformed into anguish. If so, some angels need to lose their wings. 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.