Northerly direction


Sir, – If WB Yeats could read Fionola Meredith’s assessment, that Northern Ireland “is radically dysfunctional, implacably divided and politically shipwrecked” (Opinion & Analysis, March 13th), he might reissue his remark to Lady Gregory about the inhabitants of the north and of their politics: “I’ve always been of the opinion that if such disagreeable neighbours shut the door, it is better to turn the key in it before they change their mind.”

Conor Cruise O’Brien, the politician, writer and historian, observed that, “It is not enough for people to simply say, ‘Ah, they’re all Irishmen,’ when some Northerners actually spit at the word ‘Irishmen’.”

But Seamus Heaney gave other words to bounce around in our heads:

“History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.”

This Brexit fiasco may yet provide the fuel necessary to reconsider that this fourth green field, even though it be “a heavily subsidised basket-case part of a united Ireland”, might bloom once again after many centuries? – Yours, etc,



Maine, US.

Sir, – Writing from Northern Ireland, Edna McMinn refers to the number of “decent principled people . . . working very hard here to change things” (Letters, March 15th).

Perhaps your letter writer might study how the same decent people perpetuate a polarised society by repeatedly voting for the two extreme political parties, Sinn Féin and the DUP, while ignoring the moderate parties such as Alliance, Greens and others that seek their votes. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – I’m afraid I have to agree with Des O’Halloran on this matter (Letters, March 14th).

I travelled North to bring my son many times to play cricket, and I must say I found it slightly intimidating and disconcerting to drive through so many bleak villages and towns with Union Jacks on every pole and house, by the hundred.

How can we be expected to consider a holiday up there? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.