‘Festschrift for Anthony Coughlan’


A chara, – Eoin Ó Broin takes me to task for supposedly not spelling out the alternative to continued membership of the European Union (“A Festschrift for Anthony Coughlan review: book fails to focus on its subject”, Books, September 1st).

I did exactly what I was asked to do – explain how the abandonment of the aim of Irish national independence came about, an abandonment which, it appears, Sinn Féin now supports. My argument is simple: membership of the EU ties us in to accepting neo-liberal economic policies that leave us at the mercy of international capital and make unconstitutional using the state as the main provider of employment and investment. I argue that ending those policies is essential to solving the housing and health crises, among others, points ironically that are strongly made by other Sinn Féin spokespeople, like Piaras Ó Dochartaigh and Louise O’Reilly.

Ó Broin perhaps validly complains that the book is not an assessment of Coughlan’s life and intellectual contribution, but if he is to take aim at the outlines of alternatives to the EU put forward by Finbar Cullen, Mícheál MacAonghusa, Tommy McKearney and Eoghan O’Neill, he might outline their arguments and spell out where they are wrong.

Ó Broin glosses over the informative piece by Owen Bennett defending Sinn Féin’s role in the peace process, and, even more importantly, the account of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement by its one-time organiser, Kevin McCorry. In particular, Ó Broin might consider McCorry’s point that national independence is more important than national unity (though both are desirable).

A fuller picture of the book, however, was presented in The Irish Times the day before when Michael Quinn gave a comprehensive overview of its contents. – Is mise,


Cluain Dolcáin,

Baile Átha Cliath 22.