Monday 11 December 2017

Party rivalries doom us to disaster

British political splits were often ignored for the greater good, but it's not likely here, writes Ronan Fanning

'The capital sin of our young Irish state", wrote William Philbin, the Bishop of Clonfert, in 1957, "is our failure to provide for our young people an acceptable alternative to emigration. Our version of history has tended to make us think of freedom as an end in itself and of independent government -- like marriage in a fairy story -- as the solution of all our ills."

A year later, Ken Whitaker quoted those words in his introduction to Economic Development which, once it was endorsed by de Valera's government, charted the new course for independent Ireland steered by Sean Lemass.

Today, confronted by the most dangerous threat to our economic sovereignty since the foundation of the State, those words have a curious resonance. Substitute "Europe" for "independent government" and they seem as relevant as they were, half a century ago.

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