Dennis Kennedy, the former deputy editor of the Irish Times, has an opinion piece in his old newspaper, banging the familiar drum of revisionist – or more correctly, apologist – rhetoric. Driven by angst over the United Kingdom’s seeming indifference or positive antipathy to Ireland’s political and economic stability as the UK stumbles out of the European Union, the journalist condemns the widening gulf between the two countries. Why oh why, he implies, can’t we all just get along in a sort of Anglo-Hibernian condominium, free of nasty nationalist or separatist sentiment? Which, of course, is simply a form of wistful Greater England nationalism of its own, a nostalgic longing for the days of the two Britains, East and West.
One suspects that the whole piece could be summed up in these two separate extracts:
“The Belfast Agreement enshrined the British/Irish identity divide as central, and that agreement was essentially appeasement of the IRA, an armistice bought by London and Dublin cheered on by Washington.
Preoccupied with the land Border, we should not forget that the real tragedy of Brexit for all of us is the United Kingdom’s defection from the European integration, and its rush to discard the European umbrella.”
The blame for our current, existential crisis, then, lies not with the British but with the brutish Shinners, past and present, the Provo fellow-travellers of the peace process era, Patrick Pearse and 1916, and 1966, and 2016, and… and… and… For the Brexit crisis would not have arisen if we had not gained our independence a century ago because our votes in any referendum would have kept the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland within the EU!
If they weren’t so smug in their European identity, or aware of how unwelcome or decried the suggestion would be, I suspect that the British apologists would be demanding an Irexit to parallel a Brexit, with flowery talk of “these islands”, the “totality of relationships” and the “Commonwealth”. However, even the revisionist tendency isn’t that mad. Is it?