Republican symbols and a US banner

 

Sir, – Banners are, by their nature, a shorthand: a single message in the minimum number of characters. “England Get Out of Ireland” conveys the message that the British administration should cease its operations in Northern Ireland and end the constitutional link between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. There is no concomitant implication that any people who support the present link should follow suit and also withdraw, and most unionists now accept that the demand “England Get Out of Ireland” is a legitimate aspiration, even if for obvious reasons they find it unpalatable.

A banner seeking to convey the kind of tendresse so eloquently expressed by Kathy Sheridan (“Context is all when it comes to republican symbols”, Opinion & Analysis, March 20th) would unfortunately amount to a letter-length plea for sweet reasonableness: nuanced but hardly pithy. “England Get Out of Ireland”, more abrupt and lacking subtlety, leaves no room for doubt. – Yours, etc,

EOIN DILLON,

Dublin 8.

A chara, – On the issue of the “England Get Out Of Ireland” banner in New York, Fr Seán McManus writes that, “Wales and Scotland can hardly be blamed for the mistreatment and later in 1920 for the partition of Ireland” (Letters, March 19th).

It was a Scottish king, James VI, who sowed the seeds of partition when he ordered the Plantation of Ulster, and it was a native Welsh speaker, Lloyd George, who split Ireland in two with the Anglo-Irish Treaty. – Is mise,

JAMES WILSON,

Oxfordshire,

UK.

Sir, – Mary Lou McDonald should be well aware that under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, which Sinn Féin helped negotiate, “England” cannot unilaterally exit Ireland, as the constitutional status of Northern Ireland is determined by the wishes of a majority of its population. This is underpinned by the 1990 declaration by the British government that it has “no selfish strategic or economic interest” in Northern Ireland.

The achievement of Irish unity depends on convincing middle-ground voters in Northern Ireland that their futures are best served in a united Ireland.

The anachronistic, confrontational and insulting tone of that banner does nothing to bring this about. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN WALL,

Navan,

Co Meath.

Sir, – Regarding the debate provoked by the Sinn Féin leader’s decision to march behind “that” banner in New York City last weekend, there are people in the southern United States of America who proudly march behind the Confederate flag, which also has a long and controversial history.

Its defenders maintain that it is a vital part of their own cultural identity and community history.

These people also claim not to understand how anyone could possibly be offended or feel threatened by its display.

Such strange company to find oneself in! – Yours, etc,

DESMOND O’TOOLE,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – I am rather surprised that Tánaiste Simon Coveney is so put out by the banner “England Get Out of Ireland” at the New York St Patrick’s Day parade.

Fine Gael likes to proudly claim that is the party of Mícheál Ó Coileáin. In the book The Path to Freedom, the Big Fellow himself wrote in his essay The Proof of Success: “The coming and the presence of the English had deprived us of life and liberty. Their ways were not our ways. Their interests and their purposes meant our destruction. We must turn back again the wheels of that infamous machine which was destroying us. We must get the English out of Ireland.”

It is worth reading that essay and the others in The Path to Freedom to see how frequently Ó Coileáin wrote about England’s control over Ireland and how it ruined the Irish nation. I get the feeling that Ó Coileáin would have been very much in agreement with the banner.

Is Mr Coveney’s disapproval of the banner in any way related to the latest opinion polls that show support for Fine Gael and Sinn Féin went up?

What better way for Fine Gael to continue to win support than attack Sinn Féin.

It’s not like the “England Get Out of Ireland” banner was unveiled for the first time this year. – Is mise,

SEANÁN Ó COISTÍN,

Trier,

Germany.