Coming to terms with Britain leaving the European Union

 

Sir, – Your refusal to accept the obvious does little to enhance the reputation of your newspaper as an independent and impartial observer of current affairs (Editorial, June 25th). The EU, the institution which is not the problem, according to you, has consistently refused to accept any situation which is not in accordance with its agenda of a neoliberal market-ruled United States of Europe administered by Brussels.

The coming weeks will show that it does not accept the idea of national democracy, and we may expect that the UK will suffer severely for its action in delaying the project. The obvious solution of an European Free Trade Association-type arrangement will not be on the table as it may only encourage others, those described by you as the forces of Euroscepticism and xenophobia, to follow the same path.

The only choice that will be on the table will be between an effective trade embargo or a Lisbon-style new referendum to get the desired result. – Yours, etc,

DAVID FitzGERALD,

Kiuruvesi, Finland.

Sir, – With the increasing prospects of Trump in the White House, Boris in Number 10, Putin in the Kremlin and Le Pen in the Élysée Palace, the next meeting of the G7 may actually resemble the Mad Hatter’s tea party. – Yours, etc,

EAMON FARRELL,

Sandymount,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – It’s patently ridiculous for certain Irish politicians to claim that Brexit is a working-class revolt against the “elites” when one considers the whelps of joy from Bullingdon Club Tories over the result. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN AHERN,

Clonsilla,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – When the dust settles in the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, this country should also reappraise its relationship with Brussels and our near neighbours. There is now a real danger that the UK may fracture into its constituent parts. With this in mind, Ireland should consider advancing the concept of a loose federation of these islands, as we share common cultural, social and economic interests. – Yours, etc,

JOE CAHILL,

Wilton,

Cork.

Sir, – My first personal reaction to the vote to leave the EU is having to see again the visible manifestations of the British-imposed Border that partitions Ireland.

That is one inevitable consequence of the UK voting to leave the EU.

I come from Co Fermanagh. Not only is my country divided, but my historic parish of Kinawley is also arbitrarily and arrogantly divided by that damn Border. While the UK was in the EU, and with the coming of the peace process, I had the joy of driving seamlessly home each summer from Dublin to the parish of Kinawley, and not seeing one British custom post or one British army fortress. Now I dread not being able to ignore that damn British border again.

I know full well there has been a measure of denial in all of this. I knew, of course, the damn Border still existed, but one’s eyes – not to mention one’s blood pressure– did not have to be grossly affected by it. A bit like having something ugly in one’s home that cannot be got rid of for the time being so one hides it from sight.

Although I have strongly supported the peace process and the Belfast Agreement, I always had the worry, based on Perfidious Albion’s record, of what would happen if some future British government did something in its own interest without a thought for the ground it is occupying in Ireland.

However, without trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, one can gain some comfort with the thought that since Northern Ireland itself voted to stay in the EU, this now means that the vast majority of the people in Ireland, North and South, side with the EU rather than with England.

And Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU. Maybe, therefore, it can be said that the unionist cause is getting weaker and weaker. Time for Scotland and all of Ireland’s 32 counties to secede from the “union” (with England) that has never really cared for them anyway. – Yours, etc,

Fr SEAN McMANUS,

President,

Irish National Caucus,

Capitol Hill,

Washington DC.

Sir, – Bravo to the British for giving voice to what a great many disillusioned and disenfranchised European citizens think. David Cameron, a prime minister I never particularly warmed to, is to be applauded for doing the noble thing and falling on his sword.

I’m somewhat surprised at how many ordinary Irish people have actually condemned the British for their principled stand. It seems we would rather portray ourselves as gutless, obsequious and subservient. Do critics of the British decision not remember the role of the EU in heaping crippling private bank debts upon the general populace of Ireland, as well as Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal?

When individual member states wanted help in recent years, all they got was a rejection. Now a major player in their club has given the EU a long overdue rebuff.

The EEC, later the EU, served a very useful function and arguably did a lot of good in the postwar period. However, in the last couple of decades that all gradually changed and the institutions became host to the free market orthodoxy which took over the western world after about 1980.

More recently, a perfect storm of globalisation, EU dominance and eight long cruel years of crippling austerity cemented that. The EU institutions grew and morphed in to something wholly unrecognisable from their earlier incarnation as vehicles for improved trade opportunities, economic stability and peace among the member states.

The demography of those who voted to leave speaks volumes about the thinking behind the decision – predominantly working class, north of the home counties and from an older generation. These people belong to a generation that can recall pre-Thatcher and pre-EU dominance. Whatever benefits have flowed from the EU would be seen to have passed them by. Add to this a feeling among many British citizens that Germany is the tail wagging the dog in Europe. They would see an entity that is detached and out of touch with the common man – an autocratic, unaccountable monolith whose primary remit is furthering the interests of a European elite. Furthermore, the EU itself has done nothing to dispel or even temper this perception.

It would be nice to think that this surprise result might prompt reflection and a reassessment of the route ahead, a chance to promote and display a more democratic face. When you think about it, what the British result represents is real democracy in an era when the concept’s currency has been debased.

However, my cynicism tells me that customary EU intransigence will persist. Witness European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s response to the British decision: “There will be no renegotiation of treaties”.

In the coming weeks and months, grey folk in grey suits will devise secretive arrangements in closed rooms while they attempt to preserve the status quo in the future shape of the European Union and nothing meaningful will be learned from what should be a wake-up call. All their actions both past and present indicate this. – Yours, etc,

JD MANGAN,

Stillorgan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – To adapt the words of WB Yeats, “All changed, changed utterly, a terrible future is born”. – Yours, etc,

BERNARD McGRATH,

Leeds.

Sir, – The British people have spoken. The Irish people need to speak now. Referendum, please. – Yours, etc,

DAVID HONAN,

Newbawn,

Co Wexford.

Sir, – The mystery is that during the hundredth year anniversary of this country’s break for independence, our Government and politicians are advocating deeper political and fiscal union, which will inevitably result in a European state with the Government, Ministers, budget and Army based in Brussels.

Concerns about water and bin charges and not having permission to build public housing will pale into insignificance then in comparison to the diktats that will become the norm.

Member states have been subsumed into this union by force of a pretend democracy, the main principle of which is to keep the people voting until they deliver the required answer.

Had we been told that the EEC was merely a facade for a new political order perhaps Ireland might have chosen to keep its independence. It’s true what they say about Mammon – it talks, and we serve it well. – Yours, etc,

LORETTO BROWNE,

Ashbourne,

Co Meath.

Sir, – Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU because it wants control of its affairs without outside interference, should it also leave the Commonwealth? – Yours, etc,

PAVEL MARIANSKI,

Dungarvan,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – I hope that the British vote to leave will not mean that the EU will want Turkey to be part of the EU either as a replacement or even a new member. Pro-Europeans like myself do not want Turkey as a member for a host of reasons. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL McCULLAGH,

Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

Sir, – As an Irishman resident in the UK, I have witnessed the EU referendum here firsthand, and despite voting to remain, I increasingly found that the Leave campaign raised legitimate concerns and criticisms of the European Union, its policies and direction.

I am disappointed to see that your coverage of the EU referendum result has been so wholly one-sided, condemning the decision taken by the British people. Despite the repeated claims of the great closeness and affinity between our two nations, the Irish media seems to have made no effort to lay out a fair and even-handed appraisal of the reasoning behind the Leave campaign, instead dismissing it as racist or xenophobic and driven by nationalistic impulse.

It is regrettable that the UK, Ireland and possibly the wider EU will suffer in the short and medium term as a result of the vote. However, the merits or lack thereof of the decision to Brexit will only be seen in the long term. There is much reason to hope they may be positive rather than negative.

Perhaps the EU will become a fairer, better institution. David Cameron’s failure to achieve even modest reforms in his renegotiation, even with the threat of the EU’s second largest net contributor potentially exiting the union, showed the EU’s inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to reform itself.

I am filled with dread at how Ireland will now manage at the top table of the EU on key matters concerning our national interest, such as corporation tax, which the EU would seek to change. But perhaps Brexit will now obligate the EU to become less dismissive of the interests of individual member states, especially in the face of growing Euroscepticism and the risk of other members exiting. Perhaps you might reflect this in your ongoing coverage.– Yours, etc,

EVAN BYRNE,

London.