In contrast to John’s northern cynicism, in the Irish Times Fintan O’Toole is optimism personified on the impact of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland [Keep the noise down in the attic, please – Ed]. Indeed. From the Irish Times article
The combination of all of these factors made the visit an oddly liberating occasion. No one would have thought that the British queen could free Ireland, but she did help to free us from the crippling insecurities of false choices. Before, the choice was to hate England or to be a West Brit.
Now there’s the healthy option of simply getting on with the neighbours.
The long-term value of this psychological shift is twofold. First, it frees Irish energies, official and otherwise, to concentrate on our real and pressing problems. The superb organisation and brilliant choreography of this week’s events were reminders of just how much of the best of official intelligence and competence has been devoted to Anglo-Irish relations, at the expense of other things. If the relationship is now normal, perhaps some of that competence and intelligence can be channelled into the small task of recovering the sovereignty that was won from the British and lost to the European Central Bank.
Second, the death of Anglophobia is a useful part of the redefinition of what it means to be Irish. That new identity has to be positive rather than negative. But it also has to find a way to include Britishness. Those on the island who value the British part of their identity have to know that, for everyone else, British is not a dirty word.
After this week, it isn’t.
But, as ever, read the whole thing.