Come back, Ireland needs her sons!

My favourite family story concerns my uncle Frank. In the 1960s Frank swapped grey Belfast for life in sunshine-filled Jersey in the Channel Islands. At the time Jersey was a popular tourist destination and as a good looking single guy it would be fair to say he had a good time courting young ladies who came to the island looking for a holiday romance. In the family album, we have photos of him looking tanned and relaxed, invariably accompanied by a pretty blonde girl.

Roll on a few years and the Troubles broke out in Belfast. Uncle John back home got a bit worked up by it all and phoned Frank in Jersey. He said, ‘Frank you have to come home, Ireland needs her sons!’ You can probably guess Frank’s response. Unsurprisingly Frank was not tempted back to the teargas-filled back streets of Belfast and is still in Jersey to this day. John was no great patriot either. After the initial excitement wore off he buggered off to Australia before settling in London.

I was reminded of this story by an article by Cathal McCall from Queen’s University Belfast on RTÉs Brainstorm site. Entitled ‘A British reclamation of Ireland down the line? Unthinkable?‘ it discusses the possibility that Britain could re-invade Ireland, to quote:

Should a Tory with British imperial delusions take charge, the odds shorten on a British reclamation of Ireland in response to Sinn Féin sweeping the electoral boards. Such a Tory Prime Minister, less than wedded to democratic principles, may well eye the size and purpose of the Irish Defence Forces and conclude that reclamation would be a doddle. No Provos roaming around the drumlins of South Armagh and Louth or lying in wait in the bogs of Tyrone and Monaghan to worry about either. No heroic Ukrainian-style resistance likely. And all done in the name of ‘peace and security’.

We live in tumultuous political times. A large member state saw fit to leave the European Union in the face of the best advice from experts galore. Far right parties are knocking on the doors of governments across Europe. Trump threatens a resurrection. And Vladimir Putin is orchestrating a vicious war on Ukraine to reclaim what he believes rightfully belongs to Mother Russia.

A British reclamation of Ireland down the line? Unthinkable? But stranger things have happened.

The article has met with a certain amount of incredulity, shall we say.

But just in case, we might need to put a call out to the diaspora to come home to fight any future invader. If such an invasion ever does happen I will not be on the frontlines. You will find me on a beach in Jersey sunbathing next to uncle Frank.

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