Owen Polley’s lack of support for the Irish rugby team is regrettable (‘I always supported Ireland in rugby but less so now due to the anti-British mood over Brexit,’ Feb 1).
However. he has a point. Nationalism and sports are deeply interwoven everywhere. For years, Southern Irish rugby supporters back nations that play against England. But maybe we need to look at a wider picture.
In the context of Northern Ireland, Irish nationalists have made little effort to attract unionists. The foundation stone of the Irish nation is anglophobia which gave rise to a cosy, homogeneous Catholic state. To-day however the southern state is multicultural yet it fails to understand that northern unionists have different cultural, ethnic and religious outlooks.
No attempts are made to include Britishness as part of the history, social and cultural make up of the Irish republic. Millions of Irish people live in England and are welcomed. Yet symbols of Britishness are denied in the Irish state such as Commonwealth membership.
The public state broadcaster relays the Angelus on TV and radio twice a day, a prayer of the Roman Catholic church. Inclusive? Anglophobia now runs riot in the Irish media and among politicians. Here in Canada, an anglophone country, Prime Minister Trudeau, no doubt lobbied by Fine Gael, has just supported the back stop.
Should the border go one day the deep psychological differences between unionists and nationalists would continue. The ex-loyalist Southern community was too small and scattered to sustain its Britishness post independence, was pacified and many left. But the large number of Northern unionists is a different matter and their separateness will continue for decades.
Robin Bury, Toronto, Canada