Northern Ireland news

Irish ambassador takes Eurosceptic magazine to task over 'anti-Irish' articles

Ambassador Adrian O'Neill accused The Spectator being anti-Irish.

THE Republic's ambassador to the UK has accused a right-leaning British political magazine of publishing "snide and hostile" articles about Ireland.

Adrian O'Neill has written an open letter to the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, claiming that the tone of its articles about Ireland and Brexit have been “with the occasional exception” anti-Irish..

He said that criticism of the Dublin government's approach to Brexit by the Eurosceptic magazine had "lapsed into an anti-Irish sentiment which we all hoped had been consigned to the past".

Mr O’Neill was prompted to pen the letter after an article appeared in The Spectator six days ago by the Daily Mail’s royal correspondent, Robert Hardman, which criticised Ireland’s decision to join the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the French Commonwealth.

The Republic is one of 17 EU Member States that are either members or observers of the organisation.

Mr Hardman highlighted the irony of the fact that Ireland declared itself a republic 70 years ago and left what was then the British Commonwealth.

“Only a cynic would suggest that this is a calculated two fingers to Brexit Britain," the article stated.

"Only the mean-spirited would suggest that little Leo will do anything to suck up to the top gang in the EU playground."

Mr O’Neill responded by stating that Mr Hardman’s article was a particularly “egregious example” of The Spectator’s anti-Irish bias.

The ambassador said he was not “unduly thin-skinned” but had noticed an increasing “anti-Irish sentiment which we all hoped had been consigned to the past” yet had resurfaced over Brexit.

“Brexit has undeniably placed some pressure on British-Irish relations," he said.

"Nevertheless, most British people I meet understand the rationale underlying the Irish Government approach to Brexit, a policy which enjoys cross-party support in our parliament and across public opinion in Ireland."

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