Sunday 15 December 2019

The Brits might put manners on Brussels for us - as we can hardly threaten an Irxit

'There is no way we can pull out of Europe, such is our indebtedness and reliance on funding. And if we did threaten an Irxit, our neighbours would say no more than, “Don’t forget to close the door on your way out.”' Stock photo: Getty
'There is no way we can pull out of Europe, such is our indebtedness and reliance on funding. And if we did threaten an Irxit, our neighbours would say no more than, “Don’t forget to close the door on your way out.”' Stock photo: Getty
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

The English are trying desperately to get their independence from Ireland, and we will not let them go. It wouldn't surprise me if the Brexiteers burst into song: "And England, long a province/Be a nation once again."

There's hardly a day passes in this, the 100th year after 1916, without someone indignant over something contentious coming out with another "Is this what the men of 1916 died for?"

I'll bet the men of 1916 had no idea when they were about to be shot that they were dying for all sorts of causes, like free water, the saving of the bondholders from the stake and cheap TV licences.

There's no doubt but that they would be shocked to hear the vast majority of Irish people are against the Brexit.

Then there's the great one often used when there's a disagreement. It's the old refrain of "the men of 1916 will be turning in their graves." Sure aren't there cnáimhseáilers who swear they have heard the sound of bone on wood in Arbour Hill when word came that we were against giving Britain her freedom from Ireland. The heroes of 1916, we are told, are turning en masse in their coffins like chickens on a rotisserie.

But none of the indignants and the cnáimhseáilers from the ultra-republican branch seem to have noticed that we are getting on very well with England. The Queen is popular. In fact I'd warrant many of you know more about the soapy socio-economic set-up in Manchester or the East End than you do about the day-to-day goings-on in the deprived areas of our own country.

By the way, cnáimhseáilers comes from the Irish word cnáimhseáil, which means crib, not as in your house or where Jesus was born. It means complaining and moaning and whinging and spinning.

There will be some of you reading this over in England who will make a right hames out of pronouncing cnáimhseáilers, and, seeing as our country is full of 'em, we had better teach you how to say it right. Don't go getting all fretful now, it's no worse than Taoiseach or Uachtaráin or Drogheda of the silent g.

It's "kin-awve-shawl-ers". Say it . Go on. Don't be scared. Say it again. Quickly, this time, like shopping trolleys running into each other. Hold one nostril closed to get the nasal intonation on the "kin-awve" bit. Now you have it. Fair play.

When my Dad went over for work to Northampton in the '50s, the signs on the boarding houses read "no blacks, no dogs, no Irish". Now most English people prefer to live next to the Irish, or so I'm told anecdotally, which is a great word for saying people tell me things in the pub.

That exclusion of the Irish was down to racism - but is the British sense that they are about to become a minority in their own country just plain ordinary xenophobia or is it a case of having a genuine concern that their British way of life will be irretrievably lost by the fast-track admission of millions of people into the country?

The very same questions are there for us to answer. How many do we leave in? How do we retain our national identity and what's left of our sovereignty while at the same time making sure we look after those who are the victims of appalling cruelties in their own countries?

Do we admit every worker from fellow EU countries, or do we lobby for a quota system because we are just too small to take in too many?

It's going to get worse, you know. There are millions who will be heading this way from countries where kids die of starvation every day. Would you blame the oppressed and the starving for leaving their homeland to seek a better life?

We have never had a national debate on what is probably the most important issue of our time. There is no plan - and even to suggest a plan is to be deemed racist.

Did you know the refugees who are admitted here are not given an induction course or any sort of briefing as to Irish laws and values? The Irish solution is: let's go for it, and we will make the plan after, if we get the time and the money. The reason is that the politicians and those who influence public opinion are scared. If they say we should limit the numbers, then on comes a story of refugees who are slaughtered or drowned because they were not admitted to our country. The Government, and the members of the Government in Justice and Foreign affairs, would be branded as callous and racist.

Just as was the case during the Second World War, we let England do the fighting for us.

There is no doubt but that the EU needs to be reined in. The EU micromanages every aspect of our lives and there's no stopping them. England might just put manners on Brussels for us. There is no way we can pull out of Europe, such is our indebtedness and reliance on funding. And if we did threaten an Irxit, our neighbours would say no more than, "Don't forget to close the door on your way out."

The Clifton Suspension Bridge, just outside Bristol, took 12 hours off the coach journey from London to Dublin. Today the air route between Dublin and London is one the busiest in the world. There are millions and millions of Irish descent living in Britain. We are bound together by old ties and geography.

The history of it all means that even if there is a Brexit, the special relationship will be recognised and trade deals will be made. So even if we divorce, we will remain good friends and the key will be left under the mat.

I would still vote No to leaving Europe if I were an Irish person living in Britain. The EU is the nearest we might ever get to a United Ireland. For the most part we have the same laws as the North. The EU did away with the barbed wire border controls stopping us from travelling our own country.

And wasn't that the reason our forefathers died in 1916?

Irish Independent

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