Two thoughts occupied my mind for most of yesterday about this article: First, is this real? And second, if it is real, I should really relax editorial standards here at Gript. If anybody out there has 800 words about how the state isn’t preparing adequately for an alien invasion launched from Pluto, send ‘em in.
Seriously, how did this get published?
Should a Tory with British imperial delusions take charge, the odds shorten on a British reclamation of Ireland in response to Sinn Féin sweeping the electoral boards. Such a Tory Prime Minister, less than wedded to democratic principles, may well eye the size and purpose of the Irish Defence Forces and conclude that reclamation would be a doddle. No Provos roaming around the drumlins of South Armagh and Louth or lying in wait in the bogs of Tyrone and Monaghan to worry about either. No heroic Ukrainian-style resistance likely. And all done in the name of ‘peace and security’.
The piece was ridiculed across social media yesterday, not least because the author, one Cathal McCall, is no randomer. He’s professor of European Borders and Politics at Queen’s University, Belfast. Which makes one wonder: If you’re a Professor of European Politics and Borders, and you want to speculate about British adventurism to reclaim their historical lands, wouldn’t you think they’d be more likely to try and take back Her Majesty’s rightful titles of Duke of Aquitaine and Normandy from the hated French? Which is more valuable – the stone-wall sprinkled fields of Connemara, or the vineyards of Bordeaux?
The French would probably put up less of a fight, too, knowing them.
Jokes aside, there’s a problem here. Not only was this piece written – arguing as it does that there are elements in the Tory Party who wish to Ukrainian-ise Ireland a la Mr. Putin (notwithstanding Britain’s above-par contributions to resisting Mr. Putin in Ukraine) – but it was also published. Which means somebody relatively senior and well-paid in RTE, holding the rank of editor, read this argument and thought “yeah, that’s reasonable enough”.
This suggests not only anglophobia, but anglophobia that is so deeply engrained that those in positions of influence in RTE can’t recognise the most blatant examples of it when it is staring them in the face.
Anyway, let’s take it seriously for a moment: Are there any circumstances where the UK would consider an armed invasion of Ireland? It’s difficult to think of any. Northern Ireland alone has been a source of utter misery for them for the guts of seventy years, and there are few observers who think that the more hard-nosed in the UK civil service would weep tears of upset were the province to secede, as is its right.
About the only circumstances in which it might happen would be if the Irish Government were to suddenly pose a serious and genuine threat to the security of the UK itself. How would that come to pass? Even the most hardened Irish nationalist has never had any designs on the territory of Britain – all they want is a 32 county republic. And even at the height of the troubles, when the Irish Government briefly and unwisely considered sending soldiers across the border, they pulled back.
RTE is, of course, entitled to publish a varied and diverse range of opinions – but surely those opinions should be based on some version of possible reality? As it is, this piece might be taken as a joke by sensible people, but who’s to say that there isn’t some impressionable person who reads it and forms the impression that the British are actively considering an invasion of Ireland?
RTE loaned their credibility to this argument, in other words. When you see a piece published here on Gript, that does not mean that I, as editor, agree with it. Often I disagree with articles published here. What you can say, though, is that clearly I, as editor, think the piece is reasonable enough and provides an interesting and worthwhile perspective on current events that are either happening, or likely to happen. I take that job seriously, though we’re a small, relatively insignificant outlet.
RTE by contrast is the national broadcaster, funded by a compulsory tax. Isn’t it fair to ask who, on earth, in RTE thought this was a sensible or responsible article to publish?
Anyway, Boris, if you’re reading this, I pledge my full co-operation with Her Majesty’s liberating forces, in return for, say, the Duchy of Munster for me, my heirs, and successors?