I am writing this open letter to you all having sat for twenty four hours or so through the hundreds of right-to-replies the Editor of Country Squire Magazine insisted upon me reading.
I would like to thank all those who took the time to go out of their way to correct me, who argued with me and even those who chose to cut to the chase and abuse the hell out of me.
On the one hand, it is important that controversial articles are published that may cause upset. It is important to generate forthright debate about issues affecting our lives.
On the other hand, it is also important, however, not to publish comments that overstep the mark. Where my column did so in the eyes of so many, I am deeply sorry.
I would like to state publicly that I have nothing against the Irish people, some of whom are my friends and family. My daughter is married to a fellow from Galway and I can report I worked with an Irish business colleague for decades without any major turbulences, even during the six nations. My article was targeted wholly at the Irish Government and clearly, for many, my volleys lacked accuracy.
I am in my seventy-sixth year now. And maybe I am a dinosaur, as Cathy M called me in her right to reply.
I was quite taken back by the words of Clive Seawright who seemed like a very sensible man in his right to reply. In it he wrote: Dear Mr Browne, you poor man, I am so very sorry that my country and its people have caused you such distress as to have provoked you into writing such a disgusting, racist pile of tripe as you have just published in this magazine. I am quite sure that a thoroughbred English gentleman such as your good self would never stoop so low unless you were seriously wounded by us. Please accept my humble apologies on behalf of dear old Ireland, or is it Eire, you seem quite confused?
I was struck by the words of Ger Pyne who wrote in her right to reply: By the way I’m very proud of the Irish Republic, but also an Anglophile. I love your music, art, comedy, food and most of all your company. In the same period as Kevin Myers chose to write what he wrote in your Sunday Times it’s interesting to reflect that no matter where we settle our borders the asshole quotient remains the same – and there’s Jim, God bless him, holding up your end.
I was most affected by the kinder right to replies. This one by Mick is one such reply: Browne’s piece is to think to undo everything on these islands achieved in the last 20 years – rather than responding to this vitriol, we should just work together and take our respective places in Europe as Europeans. British people don’t think like Browne unless they are themselves of these traits attributed to so called inferior races/classes. Very Freudian. Lash out on those close to you. Love AN IRISH MICK BOGMAN.
I would not wish to furnish this wonderful magazine with the cruder replies, as I have done too much harm already. There is magic here and I do not wish to stifle it.
I still cannot see anything racist in my writing. However, the fact that there are people who can so easily call me a racist shocks me into a state of sad reflection.
One is never too old to learn. Nor comprehend that what might be funny to some is not to others. I would say that in older age one tends to understand situations better too. Even without the Editor’s wise intervention I suspected that my clock was ticking and maybe I have not felt so tired in my whole life as I do now.
Therefore, with great sadness on my part, I can confirm that yesterday evening, after I forced his early return from a holiday to deal with the crisis I had caused, the magazine editor and I had a long discussion and he agreed to accept my resignation from the magazine forthwith. Also, he agreed that the article shall be removed from Country Squire Magazine at my own behest during the course of Sunday when the uploader is available. I accept full responsibility for any grief caused.
I would like to apologise wholeheartedly to those who I have offended. You have my genuine apology.
I would like to apologise to the team at Country Squire Magazine and thank them wholeheartedly too for offering me their trust and allowing their wonderful magazine as a platform over these last months.
Finally, I would like to apologise to the Irish. To confirm I have no problem with you whatsoever and I was shocked to see more than one man and his dog read my article, to be honest. When the Irish Ambassador passed comment on it, I was truly stunned. Please forgive me. I bear no ill will to you or your country. Nor to those of us who, like me, are of mixed Irish descent (Browne is an Irish name) who live full-time over here in England.
My apologies. My thanks.
Est quod est.
Sincerely and humbly,