Readers' Blog: The UK’s empire is dead and gone

Goethe wrote in 1832, “I hate all bungling like sin. but most of all bungling in state affairs, which produce nothing but mischief to thousands and millions”.

Fr Martin Magill brought his audience of sheepish looking politicians reluctantly to their feet amid thundering applause from the crowded church at the funeral of Lyra McKee with his chastising rebuke, “in the name of God”.

Lyra, meaning harp, at her birth 29 years ago, was named for a constellation of bright stars. 

She was killed, it is reported, by a “youth” having all the hallmarks of radicalism, the international university of despotism, that recruit its members from the ignorant, the idle, the unemployed. 

Did the fools who orchestrated this murder of innocence not think first? 

They have reset their goal of A Nation Once Again for another hundred years. Perhaps that is their intention. 

Do they not know that the old enemy is only a fraction of what it has once been? The “greatest empire the world has ever known”, to quote the most famous West Brit of all — Sir Bob Geldof — is no more.

The UK is tearing itself asunder and this little nation is trying to help it mend, hopefully without the help of Sir Bob. 

The empire which once lorded over half a billion souls, covering with its cloak of destruction 14m square miles of the Earth, sowed the seeds of the worst disasters that have affected humanity by bullying and interfering in the problem of others.

Do they know, the fools who killed this bright star, that the empire is no more, that it now consists of a few craggy outcrops, a few isolated volcanic islands, a frozen wasteland of Antarctica, the Indian Ocean territory where the inhabitants were forcibly removed and now is a military base where they play soldiers, the Falklands, home for sheep and poor farms and birdlife and where 500 sons of British mothers perished trying to defend it? 

Fifty-seven colonies in all, no wonder the world of little men felt a tinge of pleasure when Mr Geldof’s empire came a cropper.

Sir Bob refers to the Rising as “the original sin of our State”, calling the signatories a crowd of “old geezers”. 

Let him refer as such to the fools in Derry two weeks ago, by all means.

Michelle, Arlene, who refers to all of us as crocodiles, and certainly Mary Lou should be retired off and put out to pasture. 

For the sake of democracy, the organisations they represent deserve better.

In 1938 I was present at Fort Camden when Mr de Valera came to accept the keys of that fort from the British in occupation. 

I don’t remember it as I was only three months old and in my mother’s arms. She told me all about it in years to come.

Michael Collins accepted the keys of 26 of our nation’s counties a short time before.

Stormont is locked up and Westminster is in turmoil and who knows what could happen in not too many years’ time, if this some kind of IRA shows patience and common sense.

He’s young enough, shrewd enough, intelligent enough, and above all that, highly respected in the North, in London, and in Europe and with the consent of a UK prime minister and that of the Queen, who graciously stood with bowed head at the graves of the 1916 heroes, Simon Coveney is ready made for the honour to accept the keys of the North, when the time comes.

It goes without saying we would require a considerable fiscal settlement for 800 years of occupation.

For God’s sake, the age of the dinosaur in battledress is gone.

Ted Emery


Co Cork

This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 2 May 2019.

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