British And Irish Identities


Sir, - As an Englishman who, along with nearly a quarter of my fellow British citizens, has Irish ancestry, Kevin Myers's Irishman's Diary of July 20th, on the Lions' tour and the (both amusing and tragic) contradictions of Irish and British identity, had a resonance for me.

Isn't it time greater recognition was given to the things that unite us, rather than divide us? The contribution to British culture and history of the Welsh, Scots and English is well known, but there seems to be a conspiracy to exclude the Irish. It suits the British as much as ultra-nationalists to portray British literary geniuses, victorious generals and great parliamentarians as English or Scots who just happened to be born in Ireland.

The result of defining Irish identity exclusively within the nationalist tradition is the alienation of Northern Irish unionists, who are increasingly denying their Irishness. Witness the unionist peer writing in The Irish Times, redefining his political tradition as a pseudo-ethnic minority - Ulster Scots. Of course this is good PR, as any critic can be called a racist, and Orange parades become "cultural events". - Yours, etc.,

David N. Cox, Teignmouth, Devon.