The exchange of correspondence between Mary Lou McDonald and Terry Wright (March 21 and March 26 and March 29. There will be links to all correspondence in the online version of this letter) over the controversial banner is revealing.
If Sinn Fein is anxious to include the Britishness that has been a feature of Irishness for centuries, might it not draw up a new constitution should the border disappear?
This constitution might give recognition to aspects of Britishness so important to the Protestants of Northern Ireland, such as the Commonwealth (recently turned down by Fine Gael when raised by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson) and give recognition to the monarchy.
Ben Lowry (‘A visit to Strasbourg — a fine parliament, but one that is partly built on fantasy,’ March 30) just wrote in his article on Strasbourg that Ireland is not a post-nationalist state, as recent events have shown.
Sinn Fein feeds on nationalism, motivated by negative anglophobia and still seems to see the recognition of emblems of Britishness, such as culture, language and economics, as a threat.
This nationalistic fervour (England out of Ireland) saw the small ex-loyalist minority all but disappear in the south. Today’s remnant is poor and weak. There, to this day, being Irish is associated with being Gaelic, nationalist and Catholic.
However, Irishness now is of a complex nature and its centre of gravity needs to shift from the old certainties of race, religion and anglophobia. The efforts of Mary Lou to reach out to unionists is admirable and indicates work in progress. But I suggest major re-think is now needed, and on both sides.
The present Taoiseach is not taking a lead here, far from it, so I suggest there is an opportunity for Sinn Fein.
Robin Bury, Toronto, Canada