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Irish version of individual v state

Madam – Although I am obviously not a historian myself, I always say that a historian is, by definition, a connoisseur of irony. Certainly I lost count of the ironies in John-Paul McCarthy's article (Sunday Independent, November 18, 2012) on Ireland's 'moral isolationists'. For starters, he only discusses one Irishman in this context –Eamon de Valera.

He leaves the impression that Irish neutrality was Dev's own personal idea.

Granted, this is a common error, but it is well past time it was comprehensively corrected.

The people who elected Dev in the Thirties were clear that they were not going to form a military alliance with people they had so recently got rid of. Dev did not need to look into his own heart to see what the Irish people thought of that.

And while that war was a fight against fascism in various forms, Ireland was different, in that individual Irishmen decided in their tens of thousands to join the Allied war effort. A few IRA men even joined the British Army's Parachute Regiment. The question becomes whether the Allies' Irish combatants collectively neutralised Ireland's isolationists?

A peculiarly Irish version of the individual versus the state!

Frank Desmond,

Cork city

Sunday Independent