Letters to the Editor

Thanks to Irish soldiers who stayed true to oath of allegiance

For the generations born in Ireland since the end of the Second World War it is understandably difficult for some of them to envisage the state of public opinion on the issue of Irish neutrality during WWII. As the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, there has been much comment, mostly of a critical nature, on the morality of our policy of neutrality between 1939-1945. There are some who even regard Ireland’s stance as not so much neutral but pro-Nazi. These critics make no reference to countries like Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden which adopted a policy of armed neutrality, while most of the nations embroiled in the war remained neutral until they were invaded or attacked, including the US and the Soviet Union.

During the war years, the fallout from partition following the Anglo-Irish conflict was still vivid in the public mind, seeing as how it was just 17 years since the guns of the Civil War had fallen silent and for both sides in the bitter internecine bloodbath the British were still the common enemy. The decision of Dáil Éireann, not just Mr de Valera or the government, to remain neutral, in all probability avoided an outbreak of a second civil conflict here. Critics ignore the fact that all political parties in the Dáil, along with public opinion outside, favoured the policy of neutrality. Indeed just one TD, James Dillon, voiced disapproval at our neutrality. Even those Dáil members who were strong supporters of the Allied cause, and there were many, voted to remain neutral. Furthermore, proposals from prime minister Churchill in 1940 for the offer of a united Ireland as a quid pro quo for Irish entry into the war was rejected by Mr de Valera. Our neutrality, sovereignty and independence were not for sale.

Despite our position as a non-belligerent neutral state, Ireland did not introduce a prohibition on her citizens opting for foreign enlistment before or during the war, nor did Ireland introduce conscription into her armed forces. Those who joined the Irish army had free choices. Furthermore, those who had a conscientious objection to our neutrality or those who didn’t wish to be left out of the fight for liberty, had other options open to them. As those Allied soldiers involved in the D-Day landings are rightly commemorated,  may I thank all those Irish army soldiers who stood by Ireland during the Second World War and stayed true to their oath of allegiance. At a time when Europe was engulfed in terrible war with the danger of British or German invasion of Ireland, belligerently expressed by British prime minister Winston Churchill in his victory speech in 1945, these men showed tremendous loyalty, honour and valour. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir.

TOM COOPER
Irish National Congress, Dublin 2

 

Wrong to attribute SF’s electoral misfortunes to Adams’s departure

Deaglán de Breadún (June 3) postulated whether Provisional Sinn Féin are green enough. There is no doubt that they are not. He makes a massive error in attributing the electoral misfortunes to Gerry Adams’s departure. This would be ignoring the inconsistent and fluctuating vote percentages Provisional Sinn Féin got under Adams in local and European elections. They got anywhere between 2.2 per cent and 19.5 per cent of the Free State electorate in EU elections during his leadership and they got between 2.1 per cent and 15.2 per cent of the Free State electorate in the local elections. What he does not mention is that Provisional Sinn Féin’s political position on two particular issues have changed since they gained 159 councillors and four MEPs in 2014. It should be emphasised that prior to the Brexit referendum campaign Provisional Sinn Féin were solidly Eurosceptic to the point of canvassing for No to the Lisbon Treaty alongside Nigel Farage. This change of position was relevant and influential as they went from 483,113 first preference votes, 20 per cent of first preference votes, 25 per cent of first preference votes in the six and 19.5 per cent of first preference votes in the Free State, and four MEPs to 323,029 first preference votes, 14.3 per cent of first preference votes, 21.9 per cent of first preference votes in the six and 11.7 per cent of first preference votes in the Free State, and two MEPs. Another reversal was that Provisional Sinn Féin were pro-life in 2014. This U-turn has been particularly disastrous. The Rotunda Hospital estimates that 10,000 abortions will occur in the Free State during 2019, more than twice the Troubles’ death toll at a rate of 27 a day. Right To Life stated that 9,214,645 abortions have occurred in Britain since the Abortion Act came into effect, that is at a rate of 180,679 a year and 495 a day. Could anyone imagine the chorus of howls in condemnation if Irish republicans killed Britons at such an astronomical rate? The double standards are clear for all to see. It should be noted that Provisional Sinn Féin had almost twice the number of councillors it has now before endorsing such a controversial position. 723,622 pro-life voters and 594,606 Eurosceptic voters in the Free State can no longer be ignored or dismissed.

ÉAMONN MacGRIANNA
Beal Feirste BT11

 

Rockall dispute may be a sign of things to come

The haggis is in the fire with the Scottish weighing in on Rockall. No Scottish claim to Rockall has ever come to public notice until now and it seems it is more to do with Scotland flexing its muscles against England than anything else. Of course Irish fishermen are in the middle of it and being cynically threatened with penal sanctions if they do not yield to Scottish demands.  The disputed ‘rock’ is not a jurisdiction or an island, it is just an geological elevation which is barely above the water at high tide. It also represents a dangerous maritime obstruction where no government has to this date placed any lighthouse.  It is not possible for anybody to live on the rock and its only use seems to be a tool to extend jurisdiction by those laying claim to it for economic and political reasons. Rockall seems to be the domain of the seagulls which stop on the rock for a rest as they fly over it. This recent dispute, however, is a valuable lesson to what may become a regular event in the post-Brexit world where waters and other jurisdictional will be disputed as the UK leaves the EU. So we better get use to this type of dispute  –  it may be a sign of things to come.

MAURICE FITZGERALD
Shanbally, Co Cork

 

Arbitrary assertion

Seamus Mallon, a long-term apologist for British misrule in Ireland, has some recent musings archetypal of him that he comes out with periodically now and again to take the side of unionism. After the sectarian gerrymandering and division of our small island with a nationalist majority in sight and Brexit coming hard and fast, which will see the effective repartition of Ireland, Seamus has come along with the arbitrary assertion that the 50-per-cent-plus-one principle would not be enough and get a narrow border poll victory would be doing to unionists what they did to nationalists.

Au contraire, Seamus, again neglecting the partition of Ireland is antithesis of democracy. The winning of a poll via the democratic principles of 50-per-cent-plus-one would not be doing to unionists what they have done to us. If you partitioned the four counties of the north with nationalist majorities and ruled the new minority unionist community with a mild form of tyranny, as it was described by a previous British secretary of state, discriminating against them for jobs, housing and human rights then we would be inflicting on to them what they did to nationalists. But the winning of a border poll to create a unified Ireland, after the gerrymandering to create a rotten sectarian state, is akin to what was done in 1922. It is unconscionable and can only be explained by a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome and a slave colonial mindset on Seamus’s part.

PATRICK DONOHOE
Clondalkin Dublin 22

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