I notice that Irish neutrality has popped up again in the letters’ pages. Just right too. It has been a while since we have all been reminded about how cowardly it was for the Republic not to fight in the second world war – and let us also name and shame Sweden and Switzerland for not fighting in WW2. (I bet they are sorry now because you can’t get any of their soldiers on Medal of Honour.) How anyone can drive a Volvo or wear a Swiss watch from the land of the cheese-eating, meatball-munching neutrality monkeys is beyond me. (I swear I am going to throw my lovely Tissot in the bin as soon as this rant is over.)
Still, do we go far enough in our condemnation of Irish neutrality? Ignore the jibes of northern nationalists who wonder aloud were Orange marches stopped during WW2 in an effort to help the war effort or to spare unionist blushes about their being so many able-bodied Ulstermen still not in the British army. Ignore too that other northern nationalist slur about the number of fine fellows who managed to make it into the B-Specials to guard Maghera but who couldn’t quite make it to El Alamein. (Come to think of it, why are there no B-Specials in Medal of Honour either? Surely, a gap in the market there for Irish software firms?)
No ignore that and let us focus our attention on the fact that the British did not keep us safe from German rule only – but also from Italian rule, Hungarian rule, Romanian rule, Bulgarian rule, Austrian rule, and, worst of all, Finnish rule. Yes, all those countries fought with the Germans – though everyone forgets about the Finns. Imagine if it had not been for the British armed forces (alone!) we would all be throwing javelins and have compulsory Italian in our schools. Ó, a Mhuire na nGael, mi chiamo Paolo agus piove oggi.
So, if not fighting is to be regarded as an unforgivable sin, never to be forgotten, then how should we regard fighting – on the wrong bloody side? We are not talking about picking the losing team in the world war either. Surely, we should remind every Italian, Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Finn – don’t forget the Finns – that we meet just what a poor choice they made? We should refuse to shop in Spar, eat goulash and ignore every bella donna con bella figura that we meet in protest against the fact that, yes, they fought – but on the wrong bloody side: “Listen, Elena, you are a hot Italian babe but I just can’t go out with you until you answer me truthfully: did your papa invade North Africa?”
Surely, not fighting on the wrong side (even if we didn’t fight on the ‘right’ side) gives us a bit of moral superiority over the Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Romanians and Finns? Don’t forget those conniving, sleekid, Tadgh an dá Thaobh, Finns. And please no posts about the Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Romanians and Finns fighting on the wrong bloody side due to historical circumstances because some smart arse will only point out that Irish (Swedish and Swiss) neutrality was down to the same thing.
But, most importantly, let us not forget – the Finns.