Opinion | Northern Ireland Is Coming to an End – The New York Times

Ms. McKay is an Irish journalist who writes extensively about the politics and culture of Northern Ireland.

“BELFAST, Northern Ireland — It was meant to be a year of celebration.

But Northern Ireland, created in 1921 when Britain carved six counties out of Ireland’s northeast, is not enjoying its centenary. Its most ardent upholders, the unionists who believe that the place they call “our wee country” is and must forever remain an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom, are in utter disarray. Their largest party has ousted two leaders within a matter of weeks, while an angry minority has taken to the streets waving flags and threatening violence. And the British government, in resolving Brexit, placed a new border in the Irish Sea.

It’s harsh reward for what Northern Ireland’s first prime minister, James Craig, called “the most loyal part of Great Britain.” But the Protestant statelet is not what it was. Well on its way to having a Catholic majority, the country’s once dominant political force — unionism — now finds itself out of step with the community that traditionally gave it uncritical support. And for all his talk of the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear his government would cheerfully ditch this last little fragment of Britain’s empire if it continues to complicate Brexit.

The writing is on the wall. While the process by which Ireland could become unified is complicated and fraught, one thing seems certain: There isn’t going to be a second centenary for Northern Ireland. It might not even last another decade.” . . .

By Maeve Higgins | Joe Biden, the Irishman – The New York Times

Ms. Higgins is a contributing opinion writer who regularly writes about immigration and life in New York City.

Credit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In November, a BBC reporter shouted a question at President-elect Joe Biden. He responded, “The BBC? I’m Irish” before flashing a huge smile and disappearing through a doorway. The clip went viral and Ireland went wild.

President Biden’s Irishness is important to him: He likes to quote Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats, and borrowed James Joyce’s words as he bid farewell to Delaware the night before his inauguration. An Irish violinist played Irish hymns at the mass before the event. Back in the old country, people are keen to claim him, too. His ancestral family are mini-celebrities there — his third cousin, a plumber named Joe Blewitt, emblazoned his work van with the words “Joe Biden for the White House, Joe Blewitt for your house.” Frankly, the whole thing is adorable. What I want to know is, how deep does it go?” . . .

It’s gratifying to see, certainly. But what my Irishness leads me to is the old Ireland, the truly dark and terrifying place that Mr. Biden’s forefathers fled from. Who is their equivalent now? And can the president see them for what they are and act accordingly?

The parallels between Ireland in the 1800s, when Mr. Biden’s forefathers left, and, say, Syria or South Sudan today are horribly apt. The Syrian people, brave and revolutionary, simply needed a fair system of government and, later, a safe place to recover and restart their lives. But Americans have looked away. The South Sudanese, reeling from brutal colonization, continue to struggle through ethnic division and civil war. Surely too in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, there are poets and musicians who dream of the rhyme of hope and history, if only we stopped to listen.

The early signs are promising. During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to lift the cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 125,000. But so much more is needed from America — just as it was in the 19th century, when roughly one in two people born in Ireland emigrated. Patrick Blewitt, Mr. Biden’s great-great grandfather, left a famine-stricken land in 1850, becoming one of the 1.8 million Irish people to arrive in America between 1845 and 1855. His parents and siblings soon followed. Another million Irish people did not make it, staying behind to die of starvation or sickness.” . . .

Lovely piece by Maeve Higgins.  She would have us taken as many refugees as is possible without delineation. I can’t agree with her.  Biden is doing enough, to allow in 125,000 a year. Part of taking care of the planet, is reducing population growth. We need to stop illegal immigration, allow for guest workers after amending the constitutional amendment that makes their children all citizens, and work towards a generous Marshall like plan to help our neighbors to the south curb their population growth, and rebuild their economies, and in some places, their governments. Legalizing all addictive drugs, would help reduce the negative effects of the $50 Billion a year illegal drug trade, that destabilizes governments, while empowering drug gangs.

Regarding Syria and the middle east, we can return to strengthening our allies, if there are any left, after Trump betrayed them, and let the Turks, the Russians, and the  Bashar al-Assad regime slaughter them. 

Opinion | Donald Trump, Joe Biden and the Vote of the Irish – By Shawn McCreesh – The New York Times

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Mr. McCreesh is an editorial assistant for the Opinion section.

Credit…Lucas Jackson/Reuters

“In 2016, my vantage point on the donnybrook between Donald and Hillary was an Irish bar in Queens, where I was a bartender a few nights a week. It was a cash-only joint that sometimes stayed open until 7 a.m. and sold discounted cigarettes driven up from Virginia, the sort of place where you could make $800 under the table but you also might get a bottle or a chair thrown at you. This was where I watched the presidential debates and noticed something interesting. Half the patrons were Irish immigrants who considered Mr. Trump a real “eejit,” but the other half, the Irish Americans, thought he was just grand.

Something didn’t compute. Weren’t the Clintons universally beloved by all with Irish blood? (See “Derry Girls” on Netflix for a sample of the rock star treatment they got after Bill brought peace to Northern Ireland.) It was puzzling to watch the barflies buzz about Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric — a drawbridge mentality from a crowd whose lineage had been met with “Irish Need Not Apply” signs. The craic in the Queens shebeen turned out to be a sudsy microcosm: The green vote has never been more red.

“All those Irish were Democrats for literally hundreds of years,” said James F. McKay III, the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest Irish Catholic organization in the country. “But what is the old saying? When they got the wrinkles out of the belly, they became Republicans.”

No doubt. My own grandfather, one of 12 children raised in a two-bedroom house in County Armagh, sailed to Philadelphia, and cheered when John F. Kennedy became president. Sixty-six years later, some of my grandfather’s children and his brother voted for Donald Trump.”

Opinion | Boris Johnson, How Does It Feel? – By Susan McKay – The New York Times

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Ms. McKay is a writer in Ireland.

CreditCreditPhil Noble/Reuters

“DUBLIN — When Boris Johnson visited Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin last month as part of a last-minute scramble to reach some sort Brexit deal, the two leaders began their day with a media briefing on the steps of one of Dublin’s grandest buildings. In the Edwardian Baroque style, it was built by the British authorities while the Irish were intensifying their struggle for independence. “Fortuitously,” the Heritage Ireland website snarkily notes, “the complex was completed in 1922 and was available immediately to be occupied by the new Irish Free State government.” Rarely has the word “fortuitously” elided so much.

Mr. Johnson, shirt askew, hair a mess, shambled like a drugged bear to the podium and gripped it. Mr. Varadkar looked on, gym fit and poised in a sharp suit. The contrast was more than superficial. Britain has long since lost its empire — and this prime minister looks set to break up the United Kingdom itself. He had come to Dublin for talks about the vexed issue of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is still a part of the United Kingdom. Mr. Johnson needed either to bully Ireland into abandoning the so-called backstop, which protects the Good Friday Agreement and the European Union’s single market, or to make Ireland look so intransigent that it could be blamed for pushing Britain into a no-deal Brexit.

Mr. Varadkar delivered a telling speech. He compared the tasks facing Mr. Johnson, who must negotiate the future of a Britain outside of the European Union, with the labors of Hercules. Ireland wished to be Britain’s “friend and ally, your Athena,” Mr. Varadkar said.

It was an elegantly delivered kick in the arse. Hercules’s labors were penitential — prone to fits of madness and having killed his family, he was about to continue on a murderous rampage when Athena, goddess of wisdom, saved him from his own folly by knocking him unconscious.”

Irish Spring, by Tim Egan – The New York Times

“The ghost of African-American slavery was never far from the history-making of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And yet King never lost his skill to cast that institutional crime in the bigger picture, a forward-looking thrust. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” he famously said, “but it bends toward justice.”So, too, is the grand narrative of the Irish people. Full disclosure, and a shameless plug: I’ve been touring on behalf of a book about the Irish-American experience, as told through the life of one man. It’s been a great boost to hear so many family stories with a common theme: pride in a heritage of survival.“To be Irish,” said Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.” And it’s true that Irish history is an epic of misery and tragedy, interrupted only by occasional periods of joy. For almost 700 years, it was a crime to be Irish in Ireland.”

Source: Irish Spring – The New York Times