After the border row, do the Irish need to ‘get over themselves’?

The Brexit row has led to concerns that a hard border may be reintroduced between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

It is amazing how little the Irish border featured in the Brexit referendum debate in the United Kingdom last year, even though the result of the vote will have a huge impact on so many lives.

Relationships between our two governments have been tense over the past couple of weeks and yet a British TV presenter felt a need to describe the entire affair as a “kerfuffle”.

Are the Irish an over-sensitive lot? And, in the United Kingdom, are we generally just an afterthought or an irrevelance?

The recent row over the implications Brexit will have on the Irish border has opened up old wounds.

It has also underlined just how little the Irish border communities featured in the debate before the vote across the UK last year.

I have heard people in Britain marvel over the fact that we share a common language, with no understanding that there was a deliberate campaign by our British ‘masters’ to wipe out the Irish language over two centuries.

I have heard people urge Ireland to leave the European Union and rejoin the UK, with no knowledge of the long history of oppression and colonisation by the British Empire in Ireland.

Last week’s online debate following unfortunate remarks by a Sky News TV presenter prompted me to write an opinion piece for Irish Central, which was published this morning.

The border was not something the Irish people wanted. It led to a bloody civil war, partition, and discrimination against the Catholic minority in the six counties for well over four decades.

Respect works both ways. One land cannot seem to forget its past, and the other sometimes shows that it knows nothing about it.

 

It is actually shocking that British people think the Irish should have no opinion on the implications the Brexit vote will have on the border and, indeed, all of our lives.

You can read my Irish Central article in full here:

https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/do-the-irish-need-to-get-over-themselves

Honouring the memory of Manuela Riedo

Shane Lennon with Manuela’s parents, Arlette and Hans Peter

Few Galway people will ever forget the terrible news on that day in October 2007.

The body of an innocent, fun-loving Swiss student, who had left home just days earlier to study English, was found by the city’s railway line. She had been raped and murdered.

The entire city was numb.

Like so many students before and since then, Manuela Riedo came to Galway because it was such a safe city.

For her parents, Arlette and Hans Peter, there seemed little to worry about when their daughter left home on her own for the first time to attend a language school in the West of Ireland.

Their grief must have been unimaginable when word filtered back about the fate of their only child.

Few could have predicted at the time that out of such desolation such strong friendships could emerge.

But, thanks to the dedication and hard work of people such as Shane Lennon and Eoin Durkin, the Riedos now have life-long friends in the City of the Tribes.

They have returned to Galway 16 times since a concert was held in their daughter’s memory in 2009.

Now, thanks to the hard work of the Manuela Riedo Foundation, a new educational programme is being rolled out at schools across Ireland.

Manuela’s memory is being immortalised to thanks to the core group of people who have done so much to heal terrible wounds.

I interviewed Eoin and Shane last weekend. You can read my piece about the Manuela Riedo Foundation here: https://www.irishcentral.com/news/community/galway-remembers-young-student-who-was-raped-and-murdered-on-first-trip-away-from-home

To find out more about the Manuela Riedo Foundation, you can check out their website at http://www.manuelariedo.com/

The late Manuela Riedo by the banks of the River Corrib in Galway