Acute observation from Patrick Murphy in last Saturday’s Irish News…
A more far-reaching change has occurred in Irish foreign affairs. The Dublin government failed to recognise that Ireland’s relationship with Britain is different from any other EU state, because of historic, economic and cultural connections. When Britain decided to leave the EU, Dublin might have used those connections to become a bridge between Brussels and London.
Leo Varadkar could have followed Reynolds, Ahern and Kenny to enter dialogue with unionism and to negotiate special customs arrangements between Britain and Ireland. Those arrangements could then have been presented to Brussels as a solution to the border issue, with unionist support.
It is reasonable to suggest that it might not have worked. It is unreasonable to suggest it should not have been tried.
In the wider Brexit sphere, it is now not just acceptable, but our patriotic duty, to dislike England. Much of the Irish media has lost the run of itself, with one newspaper describing Brexit as “pig ignorance”, an interesting comment on a democratic referendum.
Our words are now dangerously close to reversing England’s 19th Century anti-Irish Punch magazine cartoons. It is not an attitude of which we should be proud.
Brexit will sort itself out eventually, but its more lasting impact will be on what it did to Ireland. It is always difficult to swim against the current of popular Irish opinion, but, as in the case of support for the First World War, the stark reality of truth ultimately harnesses populism.
Sadly, it will take a while for the truth of this new era to emerge into mainstream history.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty