Friday 20 October 2017

Time is right for debate on a return to Commonwealth

A good few years ago now, Sean Cantwell, the chief leader writer in the Irish Independent with whom I shared an office -- I was then the paper's literary editor -- asked me, would I mind if he said something personal? I said, not at all, thinking personal remarks were as good as any other kind and often better. He then regretted, on my behalf, my accent. "It might have been better if you spoke like Jack Charlton." I added: "It might also have helped if I had been a footballer!"

I have often thought of that encounter, not regretting it -- I am quite proud of my accent -- but I understood Sean Cantwell's view, that in the deeper backwoods of Irish political and religious culture, it was at times a trifle burdensome.

For the last half century, I have written always from within myself, my words reflecting views and beliefs. The views have always been Irish, concerned with the welfare of this country, whether political, artistic, moral or social. On the whole, they have been outspoken and challenging, which has to do with my nature.

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