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Saturday 23 September 2017

'Beyond bizarre' - Ambassador hits back at newspaper claim Ireland is not real country

Ambassador Dan Mulhall. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ambassador Dan Mulhall. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

One of the country's top diplomats has hit back at a British newspaper's suggestion that Ireland is not a real country.

A column in 'The Times' of London claimed "Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood".

Under the headline 'Britain is the authentic nation in this battle', columnist Melanie Phillips said Unionists in Northern Ireland are "not British" and were "the bit that got tacked on to Great Britain to make the UK."

She continued: "Does that mean Westminster should tear up the Good Friday Agreement and bid farewell to Northern Ireland?

"No, because it has an obligation to the Unionists; and because the claim to unite Ireland is tenuous since Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State in 1922."

Irish Ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall challenged the views of Ms Phillips.

In a letter to 'The Times', Mr Mulhall says Ms Phillips's claim is "a strange farrago" and "beyond bizarre".

"Ireland is an ancient nation whose destiny has been shaped by our island location Since independence, we have enjoyed an unbroken century of democratic rule coupled with significant economic and social progress, notably in the decades since we joined the EU in 1973.

Melanie Philips. Picture: Twitter
Melanie Philips. Picture: Twitter

"Ireland also possesses a distinctive culture and a strong sense of identity. We have also played an active international role through our UN membership, our involvement in peacekeeping and our development aid programme. Such are the elements of nationhood in today's world. There is nothing tenuous about that."

Meanwhile, Mr Mulhall will now become our Ambassador to the USA. He will be replaced in London by Adrian O'Neill.

Geraldine Byrne Nason, at present in France, moves to the United Nations in New York.

Irish Independent

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