Brexit – time to stockpile confidence?


Sir, – From where does Fianna Fáil get its apparent confidence in this Government to handle Brexit? The two major issues the Government has had to deal with, homelessness and the health service, have been handled with breathtaking incompetence. As regards Brexit, is Fianna Fáil making the mistake of interpreting paralysis as strength? Hiding behind EU negotiators and hoping for the best is hardly a policy. I have a strong feeling that come a hard Brexit on March 29th, regardless of the optics of Simon Coveney’s contingency legislation, this country will be shown to be woefully unprepared. – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – Simon Carswell gives a disturbing account of the “xenophobic fervour” in the United Kingdom awakened by the vote for Brexit (Brexiles, February 23rd). He cites examples of racism including “an ‘English yob’ verbally abusing a black English man”.

The bigger picture looks somewhat different.

In November 2018, the Vienna-based EU Agency for Fundamental Rights published a report, Being Black in the EU, which analysed the experience of discrimination of 5,803 immigrants and descendants of immigrants of African descent across Europe.

Some 5 per cent of respondents experienced racist violence.

The highest rates were recorded in Finland (14 per cent), Ireland (13 per cent) and Austria (13 per cent).

The lowest rates were observed in Portugal (2 per cent) and the United Kingdom (3 per cent).

Across a broader range of measures, the highest rates of discrimination were experienced in Ireland, Austria and Finland with the lowest found in Portugal and the UK.

Austria and Finland have begun to address the issue.

In Ireland, the findings have been completely ignored by politicians and the media, all the more surprising given that the director of the agency, Prof Michael O’Flaherty, is Irish. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – I am an Irish citizen living in the UK, and I would like to highlight that I am not aware of any anti-Irish sentiment since the Brexit referendum.

With reference to the solicitor in the article who commented on England being a racist place following her encounter with a yob who verbally racially abused a black man on the street, I would like to highlight that all countries experience racism of some kind. Ireland has been identified as the second worst country in Europe for racism against black people.

We are neighbours. We need to be more respectful to each other. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Dermot Cooper (February 23rd) finds Ireland’s relationship with the EU “nauseating”, and goes on to say that in terms of sovereignty and democracy, the EU is indefensible. Insults are a poor argument. The fact is whoever joins a club will have to accept at least some of its rules, and the EU has achieved much in terms of human rights, equality and justice It is not the land of milk and honey but I, for one, would not wish to live anywhere else in the world.

To also simply dismiss the French as “having enough of Macron” shows a lack of understanding of his politics. Mr Macron’s reforms are not popular but they are necessary in order to repair the damage caused by decades of a left-wing policy which has transformed France into a welfare state and imposed punitive taxation on small and large enterprises with the result of driving wealth out of the country. He has the intelligence to understand the necessity of a strong and united Europe which we now need more than ever.

The fall of the EU at the hands of populism and small-minded nationalism would be a disaster and would expose the vulnerability of individual states. More importantly, the EU has given us over 70 years of peace between previously warring nations and spared the generations who came after the second World War from experimenting the horrors of war. – Yours, etc,



Co Cavan.

Sir, – Eleanor Tiernan is right (“The British public is disconnected from the reality of Brexit”, Opinion & Analysis, February 23rd).

I’m Irish and have lived in London for 30 years. I have always encountered a sense of self-reliance and separateness from Europe and the world that has manifested itself in history – from Henry VIII’s break with Rome in the 16th century to Britain standing alone against the Nazis in the early part of the second World War. It’s a powerful part of the British psyche.

As to the mess around withdrawal from the EU, British people I know – Remainers and Brexiteers – have disassociated mentally from it, so appalled are they by what’s seen as the ineptitude of the current political class here. – Yours, etc,


Wimbledon, London.

Sir, – On March 29th, will we all sleep through Brexit or will we know exactly where we were or what we were doing on the day? Or are we all so sick of it that we won’t care less? – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.