Friday 24 November 2017

Emer O'Kelly: Vitriol over 'deserters' reveals hatred beneath mask

The Irish soldiers who deserted to join the Allies should be seen as heroes, not pariahs, writes Emer O'Kelly

I am, apparently, a "f**king West Brit bitch". I have it on the authority, spat at me in a rage a number of years ago, of a person who has been extremely eminent in what is known as the "peace process" and who is regarded as a model of tolerance and inclusion.

But then, a lot of eminent people say and think things in private which are very different from their public utterances. Public utterances after all, are what get you where you want to go, and to hell with concealed, active, deep-seated prejudice.

And while I have never concealed my own liking and admiration for many aspects of English life, this insult was on a very narrow basis: the mention in passing that I had a cousin who served (with distinction, to add insult to nationalist injury) as a career officer in the Royal Air Force. One of my grandfathers also was in the First World War, I might as well admit. So, in Irish nationalist terminology, I am beneath contempt.

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