Wednesday 17 July 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'We've found our place in the world but what about at home?'


What would the politicians of 100 years ago make of Brexit? Photo: PA
What would the politicians of 100 years ago make of Brexit? Photo: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

This is a difficult time to stop and reflect on history because we are too busy living it.

In the past three years we have seen America elect a narcissistic, misogynistic leader and the UK sabotage its own social and economic fabric.

At home we've settled into the latest boom cycle with our youngest ever Taoiseach (who happens to be gay) at the helm.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

Life moves fast in 2019 but no more quickly that it did in 1919.

Today, the Dáil and Seanad will meet in the Mansion House to mark the 100th anniversary of the Dáil's first sitting.

The initial gathering of TDs must have been some spectacle as they set out the ideas and visions they hoped would shape Ireland for the decades ahead.

There were three key points to the sitting: A declaration of independence, a message to foreign nations and the outline of a democratic programme.

Much of what was professed still resonates today, although committing this country's "destiny to Almighty God" may not sit well with our current agnostic President. The message to foreign nations is particularly pertinent in the context of Brexit.

The world was told: "Internationally, Ireland is the gateway of the Atlantic. Ireland is the last outpost of Europe towards the west. Ireland is the point upon which great trade routes between East and West converge: her independence is demanded by the Freedom of the Seas : her great harbours must be open to all nations, instead of being the monopoly of England."

It's impossible those politicians could have envisaged the influence of Apple, Intel or Google could have in Ireland - but this country certainly fulfils their objective of becoming a great trade route between east and west.

The message went on: "Today these harbours are empty and idle solely because English policy is determined to retain Ireland as a barren bulwark for English aggrandisement, and the unique geographical position of this island, far from being a benefit and safeguard to Europe and America, is subjected to the purposes of England's policy of world domination."

There are still those in the House of Commons who would again like to see our harbours empty but now we are confident with our place in the EU.

Even though the 26 counties went on to break fully free from England in the years after 1919, the bigger neighbour still casts a shadow to this day. What would the politicians of 100 years ago make of Brexit?

Then there was the democratic programme which said the first duty of Government would be "to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter".

A noble aim - but a century later we still have 3,000 homeless children. Clearly our domestic problems needs as much attention as our bid to find our place in the world.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss