Arise, Dame Edna
Sir, – I refer to Emer Martin’s article “O’Brien should not have accepted tainted honour” (Opinion & Analysis, April 14th). I feel that we are now in a very different era, and the author has a full right to accept the British honour. The empire is long dead, although many British still reminisce about its questionable glories. We should remember also that Ireland was not kind to Edna O’Brien back in the 1960s and 1970s. Her early novels were banned, and she was denounced from the pulpit in her native Co Clare. In contrast, she was accepted and feted in London, where she became part of the intellectual literary set. We are living in changed times, and O’Brien should not be criticised for accepting this British honour, even it is symbolic of a colonial past. We should be proud that she is held in such high esteem. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Is it not time Irish society made the fundamental decision regarding its political identity and policy direction? Will we continue along the path of nation building, asserting a distinct postcolonial Irish identity or do we instead still see ourselves as part of the so-called “Anglosphere”?
The intervention into our republican system by the British monarch to elevate chosen Irish citizens and to place them symbolically above their fellow Irish is an unwelcome intrusion into our political and civic space.
In the past 20 years the British monarch has bestowed in excess of 50 titles and awards on Irish citizens as if they were her own British subjects. By accepting these awards and titles from Queen Elizabeth, the recipients become, objectively speaking, part of the British establishment.
Inexplicably, the Irish Government has remained silent on this issue throughout.
This is an issue of fundamental political principle.We are a sovereign republic that has repudiated monarchy and imperialism.
My views on these awards are no different to those prevailing in Canada, a country that has been a most loyal member of the Commonwealth. Because Canada is not a republic, Queen Elizabeth II is head of state. Nevertheless, when it comes to matters of citizenship and sovereignty, Canada takes a very firm line.
Despite the British ancestry of most of Canada’s population, no Canadian may accept a British knighthood or peerage unless he or she first renounces their Canadian citizenship.
It is my view that the Irish state should adopt the same policy as Canada in this matter, and any Irish citizen who accepts a British title should be denied the privilege of Irish citizenship and surrender their Irish passport. – Yours, etc,