Irish America and republicanism
Sir, – The recent opinion piece by Kathy Sheridan (“Context is all when it comes to republican symbols”, Opinion & Analysis, March 20th) raises up three old stereotypes of Irish America that are becoming tiresome: we are all misty-eyed and looking back on a Blarney Stone Ireland, we are all Up the Ra and for a united Ireland, or we are Trump-like reactionaries who lack the progressive sensibility of the new modern Ireland which, if I am correct, only got defined with the passage of the most recent referendums in 2015 and 2018 .
One can surely make the case that Tourism Ireland does everything its can to promote a Blarney Stone Ireland to all those misty-eyed Americans, and it has been tremendously effective in promoting this version of Ireland.
If I remember correctly, Enda Kenny flogged “The Gathering” to death during the Great Recession years and certainly let America know that Ireland was open for business. The message was very direct – send us your tourists, your money and your business, and so we have. Irish America has been doing that for well over a century, from buying up Irish Free State bonds that kept the new Republic afloat to sending remittances home for decades.
The other element in all this is an anti-American attitude in which everything about America is defined through the prism of Donald Trump and his antics. With Mr Trump being larger than life, I can understand how he would naturally get most of the people in Ireland riled up. He riles up lots of Irish America as well. There is another Irish America beyond the stereotypes that loves Irish culture and arts and contributes to its growth; and a political Irish America that played a significant role in creating and sustaining the Belfast Agreement and continues to work to sustain the peace process. I worry that this anti-Americanism will only increase with Mr Trump’s impending visit to Ireland, and that this attitude will start to stick, which would be regrettable.
KEVIN J SULLIVAN,
Sir, – Eoin Dillon (Letters, March 21st) is, of course, right when he points out the need for brevity and clarity in the wording of a banner.
But he is wrong if he truly believes that the banner, brazenly displayed by Sinn Féin supporters in a US parade, was anything other than a two-fingered salute to the Belfast Agreement and all it stands for.
His assertion that most unionists now accept that the demand “England Get Out of Ireland” is a legitimate aspiration is truly astounding. How can he possibly know that!
Does Mr Dillon accept the agreement that was freely chosen as the way forward by a majority of citizens in both parts of this island?
What that banner really represented was the daubing of slogans on walls and public buildings that blighted our countryside in times past. – Yours, etc,