Britain and Ireland as one – an understandable mistake?


In   the sort of  verbal concrete beloved of politicians Enda has spoken of “deepening Anglo-Irish ties” due to the Olympics. But he didn’t go as far as some did, as noted – not with old fashioned fury, but with amused resignation –  by Donald Clark in the Irish Times.  

Can anyone defeat Britain’s Katie Taylor?” Twitter quaked with volcanic fury. By lunchtime, the newspaper had issued its own apology and clarified that: “She is Irish, of course.”

Is it safe to assume that Daily Telegraph journalists know the Republic is a separate country and that the busy compiler was simply confused about Taylor’s nationality? Probably. But the next – and surely most outrageous – controversy did cause one to question such comforting suppositions.

Stand up, Russell Barwick. You win the hotly contested award for ignoramus of the week. Hide your eyes, Australia. We’re back on your patch.

Speaking on Pardon the Interruption, an ESPN television show, Barwick wondered aloud – not in his head, while drunk – why Irish sportspersons did not compete for Great Britain in the Olympics.

“It’s a whole Irish joke, the whole thing. It just makes no sense,” he said before going on to engage in logic so poisonously unstable it could comfortably occupy space in a creationist tract. “It’s not like Tasmanians say they don’t want to represent Australia. You’re all part of the one mix master,” he continued.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London