In response to the now notorious “Get Stuffed Eire” opinion piece written by Jim Browne, the Editor promised the best Right to Reply should be published. Thanks go to Grainne Kelly whose response was 1) eloquent 2) polite 3) erudite and therefore 4) publishable. We thank you for all your replies, however crass and offensive (an interesting word, offensive). Here is Grianne’s right to reply in its resplendent, naked (unedited) glory:
I wish to express to you and your editorial team my abhorrence of the content of the article “Get Stuffed Eire”. I’m unsure as to the intent of the article and if the journalist Jim Browne is in fact, a real person. If he is indeed a real person, I would place folding money in the nearest bookies that he has never set foot in either political jurisdiction on the island of Ireland.
I totally reject your description of the article as “tongue in cheek”. To me it is indicative of typical British attitude of misinformed and indifferent, colonial condescension that is a comfortable and lazy form of racism. I could add ignorance as your obsequious, closing salutation of “Slainte agad-sa” is in fact Scots Gaelic and not Irish.
In my opinion, the content is racist i.e. prejudiced and antagonistic directed specifically towards a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. I am a 50 year old Irish woman, a teacher of English and History at a Diocesan college for boys in Galway (ironically where Browne is one of the fourteen tribes), Republic of Ireland. In the past as a post-graduate student in Manchester, working in the City of London and having spent the past year working with British (English, Scottish, Welsh) teachers, I have experienced and am now tired of the British supercilious and patronising ignorance from both sides of your political divide. I am also tired of having to provide potted geographical, political and historical lessons to British citizens who are more familiar with the beaches of Bali; more comfortable with perambulating through Provence than informing themselves of facts such as £11bn of their taxes is given annually to support a part of the United Kingdom that is Northern Ireland.
The most offensive aspect of Mr Browne’s article is its crime against journalism. Good journalism must be thought-provoking, challenging and generate debate. However, good journalism must be grounded in factual evidence and data to give credence to its content. This is sorely lacking in Mr Browne’s deluded diatribe and racist rant. A cursory Google could have quickly yielded data such as Irish trade exports to the UK versus other member states of the EU.
I could spend my day deconstructing Mr Browne’s article but there is no need as the opening paragraph provides sufficient evidence of his ill-informed bigotry. At the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914, the majority of the Irish Volunteers heeded John Redmond’s call to “Fight for the freedom of small nations” and joined the British Army to form the 16th Irish Division. This was in addition to the standing Irish regiments of the British Army. Like the majority of Irish families, my grandparents did just that and only one of them came home, my paternal grandmother’s eldest brother Ambrose was the only one to come home. I have blood relations buried in France, Belgium and Gallipoli and the fact that you and your editorial team chose to publish this article coinciding with the ceremonies commemorating Passchendaele is most distasteful. The phrase that Mr Browne selected “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” was coined by Padraig Pearse, a half-English radical Nationalist and publicist that had little support among the Irish population as they were awaiting Home Rule which had been passed in 1912.
A good indication of Mr Browne’s bigoted bias is that he omits any mention of the Ulster Volunteers, formed in 1912 and armed in 1913 by purchasing weapons from Germany to fight the legitimate British government to prevent Home Rule. The Unionists, who claim British kinship of yours, were willing to commit treason to remain British.
Mr Browne is correct in stating that Eamonn De Valera did sign the Book of Condolences at the German embassy in Dublin on the death of its Fuhrer. De Valera was a petty-minded stickler for convention but his action should not obscure the choice of 300,000 Irish citizens who went to Britain to participate in the war effort, my grandmother and her sister included. Both were nurses and left for London where they believed they were needed most. My grandmother nursed through the Blitz while her sister was transferred to Derry to nurse at a Naval hospital there. Thousands of Irish, not comfortable with wearing the uniform of an army that pillaged and burned the city of Cork in 1920 for which the British government paid €170 million in compensation. Thousands of other Irish citizens joined family in the United States to enlist.
If I could single out one sentence as an indication of Mr Browne’s ignorance and slovenly journalistic skills, it is this: “The southern Irish administration – just like their northern friends Sinn Fein – can be trusted about as far as one can throw them.”
There is no such thing as a “southern Irish administration”; there is in fact the government of the Republic of Ireland or Dáil Eireann in Dublin with a President as Head of State and Taoiseach as Leader of the Government. Secondly, “… just like their northern friends Sinn Fein …”, it is the centre-right Fine Gael party which comprises the current Irish government and are certainly no friends of the leftist Sinn Fein party. Thirdly, the Sinn Fein party has elected members in the Dail in the Republic of Ireland but also in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster, placed in the latter by British citizens. As regards the issue of trust, then I suggest that you look to yourselves and your own governance.
To conclude, I am surprised that an organisation that purports itself to articulate the views of the British countryside could be so hostile and negative towards a country that provides most of its hunters; that fills the stands in Cheltenham, the starting line at Aintree?