By Jason Michael

Enda Kenny, An Taoiseach na hÉireann, invited Theresa May to address Ireland’s elected TDs at Dáil Éireann while she is in Dublin. Today the British Prime Minister snubbed the invitation because she doesn’t have time for real diplomacy.

Ireland has learned through hard and painful experience that Britain’s arrogance makes it impossible for the Westminster government to treat the Republic of Ireland as an equal partner in dialogue. Between 1919 and 1921 the people of Ireland were forced to take up arms against the brutality of the British occupation, and even after defeating the British Empire in Ireland the London government still refuses to acknowledge, to their fullest extent, the respect that is due to Ireland as an independent and sovereign nation among nations. In the North of Ireland the UK has a proven track record of collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries to wage a dirty war against Irish nationalists; it has denied people civil and political rights, detained them without charge, and shot them on their own streets.

As the old Irish proverb runs: “Beware of the hoof of the horse, the horn of the bull, and the smile of the Saxon,” Irish people – north and south – have an intuitive caution about them when it comes to their dealings with Great Britain. It was only with the intervention of the United States and its envoy George Mitchell, the Irish government, and the work of countless Irish intermediaries that the Good Friday Agreement – the concordat that ended a century of violence – could be hammered out. Yet Britain seldom recognises this. It sells its Tony Blair model for peace. More worrying is the reality that London has never taken the importance of the Good Friday Agreement for the whole of Ireland seriously. The reason for this is simply that Britain refuses to take Ireland seriously.

Now that yet another British Prime Minister is posing a direct threat to the welfare of Ireland the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, extended to Mrs May and invitation to address Dáil Éireann – the Dublin parliament – when she is in the city later this month. Ireland has made all the concessions in the process of normalising relations between the two countries. When it was Britain’s Crown forces that demolished Dublin in 1916 and waged a nationwide terror campaign until independence was won, it was Dublin that had to swallow hard and welcome the Queen herself in 2011 on a state visit. Irish people had to watch their president, Mary McAleese, laying a wreath with the Queen at the 1916 Garden of Remembrance honouring even the British soldiers who fell.

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972: 14 civil rights demonstrators murdered by British soldiers.

A hard Brexit brings a great deal of uncertainty to Ireland. Ireland’s economy, as the United Kingdom’s closest EU neighbour, depends heavily on trade with Britain, and Theresa May’s hard line position on leaving the single market has worried many in Ireland. Moreover, and by far more seriously, her recklessness threatens to upturn the Good Friday Agreement – bringing the shadow of the Troubles back over the whole island. Seeing as Mrs May will be in Dublin by the end of the month Mr Kenny reached out to her in good faith, and asked if she would address the Dáil chamber. But she can’t. She does not have enough time on her schedule – that’s diplomatic code: “Sorry Paddy, I don’t have time.” Irish people don’t need to be told that England doesn’t take them seriously.


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