WB Yeats: Easter, 1916

I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done Of a mocking tale or a gibe To please a companion Around the fire at the club, Being certain that they and I But lived where motley is worn: All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. That woman’s days were spent In ignorant good-will, Her nights in argument Until her … Continue reading

Irish Questions

Today, Northern Ireland is officially peaceful. 30 years of intercommunal violence came to a close in 1998, the Provisional IRA disarmed in 2005, and British troops withdrew in 2007 after maintaining a “temporary presence” for 38 years. Governance has since been divided between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein to ensure both communities are represented. Four decades of what Ulster loyalists and Irish nationalists describe as ‘the War’, and the rest of the world knows as ‘The Troubles’, resulted in legal equality and not reunification. The demographics of Northern Ireland split the region almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants. … Continue reading

The European norm

It’s quite right for Britons to be shocked by the atrocities in France. Parisians have now felt, for a brief moment, the kind of violence deployed in Syria. Yet, in our rush to blame the attacks on refugees, we find ourselves turning on the very people fleeing such terror in Syria. As if this were not bad enough, we have lost sight of our own violent history. In 1979, the Irish National Liberation Army assassinated Airey Neave, who was set to take a seat in Thatcher’s cabinet, fearing he would not turn back from internment and capital punishment in Northern … Continue reading