President’s state visit to Britain
Sir, – I echo Vincent Hearne’s sentiments (Letters, April 9th). I moved here from my birthplace in England aged 19. Since then, I have studied and qualified here, work for the Irish health service and have married an Irish man with whom I have two small children.
I am proud of my heritage, love the country I was born in, but also love the country I have called home for 15 years. The relief I felt when Queen Elizabeth visited here with such evident success in 2011 took me by surprise. Similarly yesterday I felt unexpected pride watching our President represent us so well at Windsor.
I may well be seen as a “plastic Paddy” or a “blow-in” for the rest of my days on this island, but that’s OK. Teasing and humour show how our relationship, once volatile, has matured into a mellow easy-going friendship. There are many English people working and living in Ireland, and yesterday our leaders set us a great example of how the diaspora should continue to feel at home on each other’s soil. Yours, etc,
Sir, – Reflecting on the state of Anglo-Irish relations in the context of President Higgins’ s State visit to Britain, military historian Tom Burke told a remarkable story on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday (April 9th).
He pointed out that a brother of one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation (Eamonn Ceannt), was killed while fighting in the British army at the Battle of Arras in April 1917. Also that a brother of Michael Malone, one of the leaders of the Volunteers at the Battle of Mount Street Bridge, where 28 British soldiers – and indeed Malone himself – were killed during the Easter Week fighting, had died while serving in the British army in May 1915.
Is there a more revealing and poignant example of the intricate warp and weft of Anglo-Irish relations that is being painstakingly mended by events like this State visit, and that made by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011? Yours, etc,
Sir, – The present improved state of relations between Britain and Ireland, so well exemplified in the reciprocal visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Higgins and the presence of Martin McGuinness at the Windsor Castle banquet, suggests that the mass of people on these islands do not live lives of quiet desperation but, rather, lives of desperation for quiet.
To protect and continue this still fragile progress towards political and social quiet the approaching commemoration of 1916 should avoid becoming a glorification of violent revolution and become instead a commemoration of the sacrifice of the lives of both combatants and non-participating civilians and of the economic hardship suffered by all the people of Ireland during and after the succession of conflicts that began with 1916 and continued up to recent times.