by Gerry Lynch
Wednesday, 25
January 2023
Analysis
07:00

Once again, America chooses Ireland over the UK

The row over the Protocol is proof that the Irish-US bond is stronger than ever
by Gerry Lynch
Joe Biden pledges allegiance to the flag. Credit: Getty.

Another British government bill, another opportunity for American intervention. At the end of last week, twenty-seven members of the US House of Representatives signed a letter, addressed to Rishi Sunak, expressing “grave concern” about the UK government’s proposals for conditional amnesties for crimes committed by both terrorists and state forces between 1969 and 1998, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Notably, this latest intervention has been welcomed by Sinn Féin’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill. Seven of the signatories are Republicans — of the American rather than Irish variety — which is not a party usually known for objecting to trigger-happy law enforcement officers escaping justice.


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Establishing moral equivalence between the IRA and the British State during the Troubles is a key Sinn Féin project, although the bulk of nationalist Ireland remains sceptical about it. This perhaps explains why the Irish government and Northern Ireland’s other pro-reunification party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), have largely ignored the letter, even though the UK proposals have been rejected by every shade of opinion on the island, including Unionists. 

American interventions on Brexit’s impact on the Irish border, meanwhile, are enthusiastically welcomed across the Irish political spectrum, from Sinn Féin through Dublin’s ruling establishment parties to Northern Ireland’s centrist and contingently pro-Union Alliance Party. These groups all share an overriding consensus on the absolute priority of maintaining an open border between the two Irish jurisdictions. Pressure on London over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed between the UK and the EU has come from President Biden and other key figures in his administration, rather than merely from members of legislature.

Irish influence in America is not just about raw political calculation, nor entirely about the large number of Americans who proudly bear Irish ancestry. The technocrats miss that the founding myths of both the United States and the modern Irish state are the same story told in different contexts: a successful domestic revolution against British imperialism.

Put bluntly, the Irish special relationship with America has trumped the traditional Special Relationship because the Irish can tell a more emotionally compelling story to an American audience. This is a powerful tool in an era that venerates sentimentally charged narratives.

The Irish-US bond has strengthened even as the war in Ukraine has exposed Ireland’s low military spending and noisy minority of far-Left politicians publicly in love with Putin (and even as the UK has shown its strengths, with substantial shipment of arms to the conflict zone and large numbers of Ukrainian conscripts training on Salisbury Plain).

As long as administrations in Dublin are headed by pro-market technocrats protective of American multinationals’ investments in Ireland, Washington’s pro-Irish stance is unlikely to change, and London will just have to take the geopolitical pain. Or, as seems increasingly likely, the UK government will have to accept that Northern Ireland will remain substantially within the EU’s regulatory orbit. This will be the price for a final dash to scrap EU regulations in Great Britain before the next general election.

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Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
12 days ago

I was in a New England bar in the US a few years ago, half the punters took the time to tell me where they came from in Ireland. The strange thing was, that I was more Irish than the lot of them and I thought I was English.

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

Same thing has happened to me.

Wesley Dolan
Wesley Dolan
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Wright

It is an interesting contrast between Irish-America and Anglo-Irish America. Like you said an American with Irish roots decades in the past consider themselves Irish while a Brit with Irish parents might disregard their Irish roots entirely.

I suppose the difference is down to America been an emigrant society and Irishness is seen as an beign identity. Where in Britian, Irishness evoked either indifference or outright contempt due to our complicated and at times hostile shared history and unfortunate geographical proximity. I’ll admit that there are occasionally flashes of affection as there are plenty of Brits with Irish roots and British people are Irelands biggest immigrant group.

It’s just a shame that we can’t have better relations but the toxicity of Northern Ireland and the fallout of Brexit means that it’s simply impossible.

Last edited 12 days ago by dolanwesley
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
10 days ago
Reply to  Wesley Dolan

I remember reading a while back one of those ‘ in 50 years’ things.
It was that ‘in 50 years’ everyone in the EU will speak English…which is happening even though we left.
But In America in 50 years everyone will speak Spanish.
I would suggest people who guffaw about the Special relationship being nostalgia about a relationship that was never special and certainly isn’t now, will be able to extend that guffawing to the idea a Latino America cares any more deeply about it’s Irish (English, German or Swedish) relationship.
Like every other country, the USA has no “eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  Wesley Dolan

You forget: Ireland and the US share something else.. we both liberated our countries from the British Empire. These things last in the deep subconscious mind.
Btw, I married an 8th generation Brit: can’t have closer relations than that, can you!

Eddie Swales
Eddie Swales
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

I did one of those ancestry tests and it turns out I have plenty of Irish blood. My family knows of no Irish ancestors.

Meanwhile, I was once chatting to a woman in the US who was claiming Irish ancestry on the basis that she had red hair…

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
11 days ago
Reply to  Eddie Swales

Its very fashionable. I suspect if we used the US criteria for Irish identity in the UK, half the population would be Irish. So to support the Irish you need to support the British.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

That will work every time except one: when it’s GB vs Ireland!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

That tells you, as you rightly pointe out, Irish ancestry is a kind of mythical existence in the US. What matters is that it converts into very significant political clout!

rob drummond
rob drummond
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul Walsh

Yeah I know this and I think “who the F* cares?”

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
12 days ago

Next time the US wants someone to give their military expeditions some international legitimacy they could ask Dublin.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

You forget: Ireland is neutral
But we could have a quiet word with Joe O’Biden if you like ..it’ll cost you though!

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

How much.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
12 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

You can safely assume it’d cost you more than it’s worth.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

NI obviously! You don’t really want it anyway and it’ll set Joe up as the president that secured a United Ireland. He’ll be so grateful he’ll give you whatever trade deal you want! It’ll be win, win for everyone, except the backward, diehard, dodo DUP!

B Emery
B Emery
9 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Lol, the complexities of the Irish border are something I’m afraid I know little about. Sounds like a political minefield. I declare myself unqualified to take the deal any further.

Andrew M
Andrew M
8 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Can’t do that on account of the Good Friday Agreement.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
10 days ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

UK needs USA…but yes you can bang on about 12 tornadoes you send over…

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago

‘Another British government bill, another opportunity for American intervention.’

Its about time they backed the f*ck off. I’ve really had enough of American interventions.
Good article.

F. Deville
F. Deville
12 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

It’s time the UK told the American government to f*** off!
When you see the US coming, you should run the other way.
Britain has a great history. It should not give up NI (to the EU or Eire) unless the current government and the people believe it is in British interests to do so.
You make agreements which strengthen your nation.
Christ, what would the United States do if Texas (or any state) just decided to once again become an Independent nation/state? So, tell the SNP to stuff their independence movement ,as well.
You need a real, pro-British government, but is that still possible today in the UK? Hard to believe how your institutions have internalized this infantile “woke” madness directly from the stupidest people in America. This is culturally suicidal.
I am from Chicago, and the fake-Irish nonsense was a long running joke amongst many people I knew.
Come on Britain!

Last edited 12 days ago by F. Deville
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  F. Deville

You have a nice French name Mr Deville.. btw, Texas was stolen from Mexico by the US so your analogy would be even closer if you knew anything about your own history!
The same goes for California and the other SW states. If they all reunited with Mexico they would be free of traitorous Trumpism and crazy GOPism as a bonus!
As a proud French-American you should demand the Lousiana Territory be returned to France!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

America polices the world. That includes GB.. indeed you help them in that nefarious deed in return for massive military support. But if you think that makes GB an equal partner, think again. They own your ass. Get used to it..

B Emery
B Emery
9 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I know. We should be grateful to our imperial overlords. Remember team America?
https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0372588/
I don’t have to like it though. I want them to unown my arse. They have become irresponsible.

M F
M F
12 days ago

Another third rate American politician wrapping himself in green to get a few cheap votes from the supposedly “Irish” lobby – except this one somehow became the President.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
12 days ago
Reply to  M F

Apparently people have taken the trouble to track Mr Biden’s roots back… And they are every bit as much in England as they are in Ireland. That said, I am very happy for the Irish to claim the “credit”.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
12 days ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

If he’s not American after 180 odd years his family have lived there then he’s not very proud to be American. He’s as Irish as the Sultan of Brunei.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

To be a true American Joe would have to be Native American. So he and all other (immigrants) have to identify as Irish-American or Italian-Americans etc. No one there identifies as Anglo-American it seems. Maybe it’s because the USA gained it’s independence from GB? ..or because (as seems clear from many on this platform) the concept of heritage is foreign (!) to the English?

Last edited 9 days ago by Liam O'Mahony
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
13 days ago

“This is a powerful tool in an era that venerates sentimentally charged narratives”.
It’s an era where rational thinking and facts have been almost completely thrown overboard in favour of feelings and trying to fashion one’s own reality using narratives (alternative facts, “my truth”) which may or may not have anything to do with the underlying facts. The US seems to be the epicentre of this development – getting a bit of a distance might actually be a good thing.
At the end of the day, the US does not have friends, it has interests….the UK engages in its own sentimentally charged narrative by trying to pretend otherwise. Moreover: Ireland also feels the heat if it doesn’t behave in the way the US wants – didn’t it get a bit of pressure a while back about its tax rates? And, if the UK still wants to swim around in self-pity about this…just feel glad you aren’t getting the roasting that Germany is right now over the Leopard tanks.

Last edited 13 days ago by Katharine Eyre
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“The US doesn’t have friends …only interests” ..very true but you might have gone one better and said it has Vassals (like Ireland, yes, among many others):or you might even have said Victims?
I’m curious: what does GB have? Friends? Interests? Victims? I’m not saying, just asking; eg did BJ tell Zelenskyy to stop peace negotiations with Russia as a friend? ..or as a vassal state? …just asking.

B Emery
B Emery
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Crazy fool, America owns your arse too. If we’re screwed so are you.
GB has a glorious history.
Ireland has potatoes and leprechauns. That’s literally what I think of.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
12 days ago

Britain had its chance with President Trump, the most pro-Britain one since Reagan. But the media, politicians, and the progressive public didn’t even want him to enter the UK. They wanted “a pair of safe hands” in Biden instead. Be careful what you wish for…

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
10 days ago

LOL
Trump is utterly useless.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
9 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So totally unlike “back of the queue” Saint Obama….

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
12 days ago

You’d think the Representatives would have their hands full trying to combat the 600+ mass shootings America suffers from every year before meddling in any other countries business. Maybe the house of lords could send them a letter expressing the lords’ grave concerns about that…..

F. Deville
F. Deville
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

That is a very good idea.
Better, maybe the UK should make quite a big statement about the outrageous violence in America and encourage British citizens to STAY OUT of the USA, until it is a safe destination for travel, work, or university study.

Last edited 12 days ago by F. Deville
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
12 days ago

Widespread American ignorance over Ireland has long been a problem – that does neither Ireland nor the UK any favours.
Even in the 1990s you could find NORAID collection buckets in “Irish” bars in most US cities. It was only after 9/11 that most Americans woke up to the idea that funding terrorists (even if you romantically called them “Freedom Fighters”) had real world consequences – and the donations fell to a trickle.
America’s ongoing faux-Oirish romanticism has implications that spill over into modern day politics, needlessly creating problems out of sheer ignorance.
“Irish” Joe Biden, steeped in dreamy emerald-green nostalgia, badly needs a history and geography lesson, but given his supposedly “Irish roots” he no doubt thinks he already knows it – and thus blunders into the fray trying to exert pressure over the UK/EU’s Irish border negotiations.
His total lack of understanding is only likely to embolden Republicans and EU negotiators against the UK Govt and Unionists, once again turning the border into a potential flashpoint for trouble.

Last edited 12 days ago by Paddy Taylor
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

A jaundiced view if ever I heard one.. try a little positivity.. just for balance – Unionists have no friends, anywhere. Why? Simple: they have no case.. bigotry, gerrymandering, racism and discrimination having gone out of fashion since the demise of colonialism.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Wow Liam generalising unionists as bigots makes you the bigot! A shocking lack of self awareness from you – but it’s always fascinating to see intelligent people also have blind spots and filters.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
12 days ago

I do suspect that the fact that British governments suck up so much to Washington makes the US government think it can just walk over us.

Last edited 12 days ago by Martin Layfield
rob drummond
rob drummond
12 days ago

Cant understand why this guy keeps calling himself ”Irish” – after 200 years, when does it all stop? I thought of him as ‘American’ – but he seems to think he was born elsewhere – all rather strange I have to say.
In 1820 William Biden left England (his home) for The USA.His roots go back to 1767 to an Englishm an called James Biden.
Bizzarely the largest part of his historical roots are from Southern England (West Sussex) – so what IS this strange fixation he has – with his own ancentry?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-57394351

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  rob drummond

It’s really simple: English heritage is boring at best, reprehensible and shameful at worst.. best forgotten.
Irish heritage on the other hand is just such fun, something to be proud of, ancient, pure, cultured vs shameful, confused and mongrel?

rob drummond
rob drummond
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Yeah. Except The Irish (who disown 800 years of their own personal history) claim to have nothing to do with THEIR OWN history

They get to set themselves completely apart – except they were 100% exactly the same as the English – Scots – Welsh for hundreds of years.

The Irish also disown the fact that it was King Dermot who invited King Henry II to help protect him and rescue him from other Irish Kings way back.

All forgotten by The Irish of course.

rob drummond
rob drummond
12 days ago
Reply to  rob drummond

As a very famous lady once said “Recollections may vary”. Certainly thats true.

It was Irish (Dublin based Irish) troops that shot fellow Irish citizens in 1916. Not fashionable to say of course. Much better to say “British troops” – which of course they were – but all born and bread in Dublin.

Simon Hannaford
Simon Hannaford
12 days ago
Reply to  rob drummond

40% of the RIC officer corps, 60% of its rank & file – Irish Catholic.
20% of the Tans – Irish, 55% of them Catholic.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  rob drummond

You’re very much mistaken! the treachery of Diarmuid McMurrough (was no king btw, merely a chieftain controlling what is just two counties today). All other Irish chieftains hated McMurrough (for obvious reasons). The Norman’s main enemy after the arrived in Ireland was Airt McMurrough-Kavanagh, his own nephew!
You in GB had plenty of infighting and plenty of invited mercenaries as well.
Among the nations you list England is the outlier. The others are 80%+ Celtic while England is 80% Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Norman (its Celtic Britons having been driven out to Wales, Scotland and Cornwall.. I guess the majority determines the mindset?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Especially when they supported Hitler.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
9 days ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Because all US citizens are of immigrant stock (except of course Native American ‘Indians’) they all identify as Irish-American, or Italian-American etc.. Strangely Anglo-Americans much less so… is that because the US used to a colony of GB? …or because Anglos are simply not proud of their heritage.. maybe it’s the old British Empire atrocities and all that? I don’t know.. just asking really.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Oh Liam, the influence of Irish Americans is diminishing constantly as black people and Hispanics wield more influence – partly because Irish Americans held them down for so long.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago

Nobody emerges well out of the Troubles, and only a person who’s led a comfortable bourgeois life, such as the Rev. Gerry Lynch, could be so naive as to appear to countenance a narrative which de facto posits one lot as unblemished saints and the other lot as unalloyed sinners. It was a dirty conflict from the start, and grew steadily dirtier, for 2 main reasons:
a. Frank Kitson’s “Ulsterisation” policy, which, from a British army perspective worked pretty well. Simply, after a few disastrous early years when they still thought they were in Aden, the British army became a lot more PR-savvy and increasingly kept a background role, and let the locals knock spots off each other instead. This had the effect of making the army more difficult to target. As a result, the IRA increasingly turned to hitting softer targets, such as part-time cops and civilian contractors working on security force bases etc. Many of whom who would have felt they were not really directly involved in the Troubles to begin with.
b. In parallel, the British army increasingly used loyalist proxies for operations that were too squalid or too politically difficult for them to handle directly. And, in the closing years of the conflict, informers and double-agents were everywhere, many of whom were deeply unsavoury characters (they’re liars by definition), and of course this led to such reprobates being protected by officialdom and literally being let away with murder just to protect them as sources. 
There is so much stuff that no side wants made public, frankly. Which is why naïve calls for a reconciliation and truth etc process are hopelessly naïve, though of course well intentioned. The British govt’s approach has merely been to wait it out, knowing that, as protagonists get older and die off, and as evidence trails go even colder, the practicalities now involved are generally insurmountable anyway. Most people from working class communities, like me, are not bothered about the bill. We never expect much in the first place. It tends to be the “nice” people, the well-heeled ones from communities largely untouched by violence, who are most upset about it.  In any society, the working classes and the upper classes are the most cynical / realistic, and, oddly, have most in common. It’s always the bourgeoisie who cling to secular pieties and angrily (they’re always angry lol) lecture plebs like me about morality. 
The film ‘71 is an enjoyable watch. If you haven’t seen it, you really should – it’s a rattling good adventure film, well shot and a great watch. But it’s also informative, tough it wears its authenticity lightly. It also does a good job of giving a flavour of the numerous ethical compromises, hard calls, and sheer complexity on the ground, a world away from the simplistic and moralistic Punch n Judy newspaper headlines in England and elsewhere. The director consulted extensively with army, republican and loyalist sources to make sure the team got the Belfast of 1971 just right. Its success may be gauged from the fact that I, from an Irish Republican background, found myself cheering on the young English squaddie who’s the main character in the film – do see it if you can:
If you haven’t seen it, you really should: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/film-tv/news/71-belfast-set-tale-of-squaddie-left-behind-enemy-lines-during-troubles-hailed-best-film-of-year/30657768.html

Last edited 12 days ago by Frank McCusker
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
12 days ago

Not directly related to the article, and ensuring there is no free lunch, is the fact that Ireland is strongly influenced by US corporate wokism at present.

Wesley Rawlings
Wesley Rawlings
12 days ago

Rest assured, if the USA does ever liberate Ireland from the British, their next step will be the liberation of Ireland from the Irish.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
13 days ago

Surely we could solve our problems with Ireland, with America, and with the EU simply by getting out of Northern Ireland. We would also save a bundle of money and pain.

A reunified Ireland could then do its own thing in the world – and why not?

It’s a complete mystery to me why we continue to retain any presence in the place.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
13 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Odd comment. Ireland has been able to “do its own thing in the world” for a number of decades now, being an independent nation. The UK cannot just “get out of NI”. The Protocol maybe nudges NI away from the UK slightly (that’s why the Unionists are going bananas about it), but I think that if it can be made to work, it would actually make reunification less likely.
Re: reunification. This would go via a referendum under the GFA…and as I gather that’s not really on the horizon currently.

Last edited 13 days ago by Katharine Eyre
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
13 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Can it be ‘made to work’ though? There is now an almost ludicrous amount of bureaucracy involved in ‘importing’ goods including food products from one part of the UK to another. Those forces who are entirely indifferent to or actively hostile to the Union are of course quite content with this situation, as it makes day to day life more difficult, drives up costs, works against the UK wide economy, and forces (coincidentally?) more dependence on Ireland and the EU.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I don’t agree. There is no compulsion on this country to remain in occupation of part of Ireland. We can withdraw from our involvement in it at any time if we wish to do so. Just as we did with many other overseas territories.

In answer to your other point I do think that Scotland should now have an independence vote because Brexit was a game changer for them which they could not have foreseen. If they decided to leave the union I would be completely happy with this, just as I would to see Northern Ireland go.

People often talk about an English nostalgia for the old days of empire. I am 65 years old and personally I have yet to find anybody at all who seriously feels this way. I certainly don’t. So I think that the “empire nostalgic” is largely a invention of bitter unreconciled remainers and pitiful left wing “class warriors”.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
13 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It’s hardly a mystery, being the resolved outcome by Treaty, of bitter constitutional battles a hundred or so years ago

At present, Northern Ireland forms part of our sovereign state, as did the whole of Ireland before that. The majority of the population of NI have at least until recently, and perhaps even now, also wanted to retain the Union.

One logical problem with your wishing to get rid of inconvenient or possibly costly parts of the state is the precedent: why not Northern Ireland, why not Scotland, why not Wales? And how strong would even an English state be afterwards, I’m not so sure.

Last edited 13 days ago by Andrew Fisher
AC Harper
AC Harper
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Why not Cornwall, why not Yorkshire? My view is that if enough people wish to form an independent country then they should… but they need to do it on an informed basis, knowing how the borders will work, currency issues, and settlement of financial matters.

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Why not indeed

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Once each of those entities are faced with the reality of their “independence” they may want a rethink before cutting the knot. Personally, as an Englishman, albeit one who went to university in Scotland and has close Scottish friends, I am very much in favour of giving Scotland a dummy run at independence by scrapping the Barnett formula which gifts every Scottish man woman and child £2000 a year, courtesy of the English taxpayer.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Well said.
I live in NI and I can tell you the place will never grow up until there is a simultaneous declaration of non-interest by both London and Dublin.
You can’t treat people like children and expect them to grow up!
From my blog on how to solve the Irish q:
“One of my abiding memories from childhood is sitting in the back of my parents’ Renault 5 in the 1970s, in the height of the Troubles, while my Nationalist Mum and Dad had a long and sincere conversation with a Unionist farming neighbour, as he leaned in at my Dad’s driver’s window. Some atrocity or other had happened, and they were chatting. After such events, when meeting people “from the other side”, there was a careful social dance that had to be adhered to, nicely summed up in Heaney’s poem, <“Whatever You Say, Say Nothing“>:

Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:
‘Oh, it’s disgraceful, surely, I agree.’
‘Where’s it going to end?’ 
Unusually however, this was one of those authentic conversations where the bullshit had been discarded. The conversation was respectful, and sincere. I always remember the sincere way our Unionist neighbour concluded: “We need each other“, he said, leaning in, and he and my parents sincerely shaking hands.
That was ordinary people talking to each other. Then you switched on the news, and it was a world away from that tolerant peasant sincerity, as our well-paid politicians sought to outdo each other with insults, put-downs and intolerance.”
Blog here: https://ayenaw.com/2021/02/06/venn-land/

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

..and there are a thousand stories like it.. real people, living their lives in Christian respect fir one another; rising above the catch cries of the puny..

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Well said.
I live in NI and I can tell you the place will never grow up until there is a simultaneous declaration of non-interest by both London and Dublin.
You can’t treat people like children and expect them to grow up!
From my blog on how to solve the Irish q:
“One of my abiding memories from childhood is sitting in the back of my parents’ Renault 5 in the 1970s, in the height of the Troubles, while my Nationalist Mum and Dad had a long and sincere conversation with a Unionist farming neighbour, as he leaned in at my Dad’s driver’s window. Some atrocity or other had happened, and they were chatting. After such events, when meeting people “from the other side”, there was a careful social dance that had to be adhered to, nicely summed up in Heaney’s poem, <“Whatever You Say, Say Nothing“>:
Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:
‘Oh, it’s disgraceful, surely, I agree.’
‘Where’s it going to end?’ 
Unusually however, this was one of those authentic conversations where the shallowness had been discarded. The conversation was respectful, and sincere. I always remember the sincere way our Unionist neighbour concluded: “We need each other“, he said, leaning in, and he and my parents sincerely shaking hands.
That was ordinary people talking to each other. Then you switched on the news, and it was a world away from that tolerant peasant sincerity, as our well-paid politicians sought to outdo each other with insults, put-downs and intolerance.”
Blog here: https://ayenaw.com/2021/02/06/venn-land/

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

There’s little enthusiasm in the South for reunification. NI is highly subsidised by the English taxpayer and UK public sector jobs are a big part of the NI economy. Reunification would be very expensive for Irish taxpayers, as it was for West Germans.
And it would mean importing sectarian strife within the borders of the new Ireland.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Here’s a few reasons:
Unionist support for the Tories.. mm
Sea area around NI
Fear of Scotland and Wales getting similar notions.
Memories of glory BE days??
It may well be that all 4 reasons are nearing their sell by date and the march of inevitability is unstoppable!
As GB ruined NI economically and socially over the past 100 years you guys will have to pay the cost of reunification.. but it will be well worth it yo you in the long run not least through better US-UK relations. If GB gave Joe Biden a nicely packaged United Ireland it could ask a hell of a lot in return, not least major help with the cost!
Joe Biden, the US President that secured a United Ireland would be very generous.. I wonder is Rishi knows that?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Dodos, all!

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
12 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

If one day there is a united Ireland and it is not to the liking of the Protestant minority, I do hope that the Republic will not be disappointed if the British show a marked lack of interest in providing them with counterterrorist intelligence.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
13 days ago

While the general points about US sympathy for Irish nationalism made is reasonable, it is a bit difficult to understand what precisely it is driving at. The British government proposals are I understand for a measure of amnesty for both terrorists and British army personnel. I would probably agree with the need to do something along these lines. However measures have received a huge amount of opposition in many quarters, not only from Sinn Fein and other political parties but by victim advocacy groups. Of course the motives are Sinn Fein are suspect: it is no secret they support Irish unification, but this does not necessarily mean that this is good legislation.

Last edited 13 days ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Didn’t Blair exonerate the IRA but not his own people?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
12 days ago

God don’t you just hate America and Americans

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago

The US has more clout in the world. That makes Brexiters jealous. Hence the hating. There are lots of ordinary English who are well disposed towards the US. Unherd commenters are not typical of the mass of English people.

polidori redux
polidori redux
12 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I guess that I am also “not typical”.
Brexit is the red herring to beat all red herrings.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
12 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Indeed. Far, far from it.

polidori redux
polidori redux
12 days ago

Very much so. Americans combine arrogance and ignorance to a lethal degree.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
12 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Frank
It is the way you spend decades interfering in other countries’ elections and then get in a tizzy over fictional allegations about Russian interference in US elections.
It is the way you interfere in the domestic politics of other countries but would be affronted beyond measure if another country tried the same in the US.
It is the way that you lectured everyone about human rights for decades and then, in response to one terrorist attack, threw your declared principle out of the window and engaged in some of the worst human rights abuses, including torture, since WW2
It is the way you illegally invade other countries but do not see your own hypocrisy when you condemn other countries for doing much the same.
It is the way you fund terrorists in other countries
It is the way that you use your media reach to export your poisonous politics, BLM, the militant trans movement etc. to the rest of the world.
It is the way that you use your economic power to subdue opposition and enable US companies and finance to asset strip the rest of the world.
It is the way you have corrupted politics and allowed an unelected elite with unquenchable greed to seize power not just in your own country
It is the way you take advantage of you supposed allies, and even attempt to bring them down, even in times of war.
Will that do for the time being.
True, there are lots of ordinary English who are well disposed towards the US. But that is because the UK MSM is either owned or cowed by US interests, so there is never anything approximating a balanced appraisal of the role of the US, and so they do not know any better.
I used to be an advocate of the US

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago

Really, really well put. I take my hat off to you

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Thank you

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I wonder who they learned from?

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

O Albion perfide!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
12 days ago

Gerry is an interesting character. Originally from Belfast, and with a surname like that, it’s very probable that he’s from an Irish Catholic background. Despite such an inauspicious start, (I’m joking folks, I’m also from NI so I can say that …), he’s now an Anglican vicar in Wiltshire. Not your typical journey.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
9 days ago

The British public had their chance with Anglophile – and Scot-phile – Donald Trump, after the disdainful “back of the queue” Obama. But they didn’t even want him to enter the country. Not hearing much about that from journalists now, are we?

j watson
j watson
12 days ago

It’s only realpolitik to be aware and take account of US sentiments on Ireland. It’s politics and it has to be effectively navigated, not just moaned about.
Re: Protocol – one suspects that even if Biden et al didn’t have some ancestral connection they’d still be strongly counselling us to not rip up an International agreement we signed, esp not when European unity crucial regarding Ukraine. So let’s stop excusing ourselves with some US-bias to Ireland cover story on this. We signed, we honour it. The EU is moving a bit to help us as they trust the current Govt much more than Johnson’s, but fundamentally we dug ourselves this one. The failure to comprehend properly what Brexit meant to the Irish border, then assuming we’d have our cake and eat it so it wouldn’t be a problem, was one of the more immature and embarrassing aspects of how we’ve conducted ourselves in recent times. Had we left EU but gone for a Norway model the problem wouldn’t have arisen. We choose not to do that – (even though back in the campaign likes of Farage, Hannan were espousing the Norway model but that’s another debate). Thus you can see how this looks across the Atlantic even to Anglophiles – ‘UK you’ve been a bit daft, but you can make your own mistakes, just honour agreements you’ve signed’ etc.

As regards the moral equivalence – there is no moral equivalence between a cold blooded murder planned in advance and a poorly trained and commanded soldier. But the suspicion remains that on occasions security services were more cold blooded than perhaps we like to admit, or at least know. The State has to hold itself to higher standards than terrorists but that can absolutely ‘suck’ at times. We also shouldn’t forget the Loyalist murder squads. This isn’t just a IRA/British Army issue. The issue of ‘conditional amnesties’ is one of detail when you actually get into it too. A full truth and reconciliation process though would I think demonstrate who committed the more cold blooded murder and the public could determine moral equivalence. That’s the power of it. One senses though things still too raw for this, and unlike South Africa, the body politic in the North lacks the bonding nature of a Mandela that might make it possible coupled with fact we’ve stirred it right up without thinking via Brexit.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
12 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Brilliantly put. Kudos though, to all the usual suspects managing to hit the downvote button while simultaneously having their fingers in their ears.

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
11 days ago

Our decisions on behalf of the UK citizens of Ulster should be unaffected by indirect external pressure – it’s a principle many seem to forget.

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
9 days ago

Biden has plenty of pitiful characteristics but his much flaunted and inflated Irishry is surely the most repellent,

rob drummond
rob drummond
9 days ago

Maybe more like “Biden” (whose ancestry is more English than Irish) choses Ireland over UK.

He is a passing phase and when the chips are down the military might of UK shows who can support US when needed.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
10 days ago

LOL
Nothing new. There are no votes in USA from the English diaspora, but there are Irish votes.
The Tories are thick enough (always remember JS Mill observation!) to believe that an opinion piece in the pages of National Review is going to shape national policy.
Commentators below complain about the “Irish reality” in USA…well perception is reality. And that is the only thing that matters.
P.S. I would like to point out (not an opinion but a fact) that despite the English pretensions about good governance they have never fixed the Irish question. In 1914 they faced a Civil War, and in the 1970s you had a full blown terror campaign. You got the Good Friday agreement because of US (wrongfully IMHO) inserted itself in the domestic political debate and now you got the “oven ready deal”.

Last edited 10 days ago by Jeremy Smith
Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
9 days ago

Jayzus, are we all living in the past!?!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago

The piece neglects the simple fact of voting power in the US.. Irish Americans, all 45 million of them will tip the scales every time.
No American claims to be British American, ie NI is a matter of zero concern to Americans with a British ancestry, and that will not change.
If GB hadn’t starved the Irish in the mid 1800s resulting in 1.5 million fertile Irish emigrating to the USA, all holding a grudge against the architects of the Irish Famine then US-UK relations might be very different.
Similarly, if Imperial Britain had had the foresight to teach the natives French instead of ramming English down their throats the migrants would be happy to stay in France!
There’s always a price to be paid isn’t there, even if it takes 100-200 years for the day of reckoning to come around?

polidori redux
polidori redux
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are a bitter little man, with little to be bitter about.
I have done nothing to offend Irish people, but I have endured, within my lifetime, the sight of women and children being murdered by self-styled nationalists.
PS: The irony that probably escapes you, Liam, is that I have far more Irish blood in me than most plasitico’paddies.

Last edited 12 days ago by polidori redux
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

You have the wrong country there mate! All that happened in British NI. None if it in the Irish Republic. Had NI been in the Republic for the last 100 years none of it would have happened. We don’t do racism, bigotry, gerrymandering; nor do we discriminate on religious or ethnic grounds (except positively – I know. I’m CoI, ie 2% and gave never encountered any discrimination. Ireland is so much more advanced than GB it’s hard to explain it to you..

polidori redux
polidori redux
11 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“We don’t do racism, bigotry, gerrymandering; nor do we discriminate on religious or ethnic grounds (except positively”
Your every post is an exercise in racism and bigotry

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

How is it, in the mind of a Guardian reader, a faux-Oirish American, or some self-loathing Remainer, that reference to the Potato famine can still be used as evidence of Britain’s attitude to Ireland?
If someone tried to liken Germany’s wartime ambition for European domination with the current German govt, or Vichy France with Macron’s regime, they would be howled down.
How is it, then, that 1945 is ancient history and dredging it up as evidence in debate would be irrelevant (not to mention insulting), yet something that happened in 1845 is considered pertinent to today?
Does that seem like a consistent argument to anyone?
Maybe such people might choose to focus on more recent history as a barometer to prevailing attitudes. How about looking back just 12 years – to the fall-out from the financial crash. Where were Ireland’s friends in the EU or US then, I wonder? Ireland needed money and, surprise surprise, a shrug of indifference swept the corridors of Brussels and Washington like the world’s most apathetic Mexican wave. What help was forthcoming? None.
Meanwhile the UK’s taxpayers funded Ireland’s £14billion bailout.
But why let pesky facts get in the way of prejudice?

Last edited 12 days ago by Paddy Taylor
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The UK’s €14bn was not a bail out but a loan.. repaid, in full, with interest. But yes, grateful all the same. Ireland was a good friend to the UK within the EU, as well; and rightly so
The huge Irish population in the USA is simply an historical fact, highly relevant to the discussion. Try and stay focused.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You seem to forget the Democrats proudly displaying their Make America Great Britain Again T shirts.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

Fat lot of us thar was to you, eh?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

16 downticks.. I’m really proud! Keep ’em comin’!