Letters to the Editor: 'Tory Brexiteers fantasising about a return to days of ‘splendid isolation’'

In the last quarter of the 19th century, British foreign policy was dominated by Lord Salisbury, who pursued a policy known as ‘splendid isolation’.

The English Channel alleviated, to some extent, the need for agreements or alliances. Economically, Britain, the ‘workshop of the world’, was almost completely self-sufficient. Britain’s navy ‘ruled the waves’.

Many British people regarded Europeans with a mixture of condescension and contempt.

Queen Victoria maintained that “we are the only honest people and therefore our task of dealing with others who are not so is dreadful”.

These factors, combined with Britain’s lack of real territorial ambition in Europe, enabled her to pursue the policy of ‘splendid isolation’.

It was a policy of non-interference or non-commitment in the affairs of Europe. Britain was, however, prepared to collaborate or to intervene when she perceived her interests were in danger.

Ian O’Doherty (comment, Irish Independent, January 8) wrote: “While it would be inaccurate to dismiss all Leave voters as ‘Little Englanders’, that unappealing trait has risen to the fore, with the flames gleefully stoked by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Rees-Mogg has been doing his best to frame this as the old trope of plucky little Albion defending itself.”

O’Doherty describes this as a Tory civil war and says they voted to leave out of their own self-interest.

Perhaps Rees-Mogg and other Tory grandees should abandon their nostalgia for the past.

Geraldine Groarke

Drumraney, Co Westmeath


Women in four counties are still forced to travel

Last May, the Irish people voted decisively in favour of allowing women to terminate a pregnancy without having to travel to another country.

The legislation has now been implemented, but there are still four counties where women will be forced to travel because, up to this week, no hospitals or GP practices in the counties of Sligo, Leitrim, Carlow and Offaly have agreed to provide the service.

This is especially concerning due to the requirement of a three-day waiting period – so a woman from one of these counties would have to travel not once, but twice.

One of the issues that was raised prior to the referendum was that of aftercare in the case of complications following an abortion. Would a woman from these counties feel comfortable seeking follow-up care knowing that no medical practitioners in her area support her in the choice she has made?

Marianne McDonald

Grange, Co Cork


Church needs real leaders to stand up to secularism

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, referring to public protests against abortion in Ireland, says, “you can’t absolutise” (‘Archbishop warns against abortion protests near GPs,’ Irish Independent, January 7). A first-year philosophy student will know that this is self-contradictory.

Dr Martin is also quoted as saying: “I’m not a person personally for protest.”

It’s just as well that his prestigious precursor St Patrick wasn’t quite so mealy mouthed in making a stand for right against brutality. St Patrick made a strenuous protest against the deprecations of Coroticus against Patrick’s sons and daughters, and demanded that all Catholics were to boycott Coroticus and his underlings until “they should repent in tears and make satisfaction for their wrongs”.

Cardinal John Henry Newman writing about those in Holy Orders, including archbishops, quoting St Paul, says, “He (Christ) has appointed (clerics) – men, like you, exposed to temptations, to the same temptations, to the same warfare within and without; with the three same deadly enemies – the world, the flesh, and the devil; with the same human, the same wayward heart”; and ends the discourse by imploring that his listeners “pray for them (priests), that they may gain the great gift of perseverance, lest, perchance, after they have preached to others, they themselves become reprobate”.

The media appear to be fixated on the “flesh” aspect of temptation; I suggest more attention be given to “the world” and “the devil” aspects. Perhaps, then, Irish Catholicism can get good leadership and recover the spirit of St Patrick, and make a real stand against an aggressive and brutal secularism.

Micheál O’Cathail

Dún Laoghaire, Dublin


Protests outside hospitals like a return to dark days

This country overwhelmingly voted that the best-placed person to manage a woman’s fertility is that woman herself. Anything else is patronising, paternalistic and controlling.

What message then are the anti-choice harassment cordons, springing up at Irish hospitals and medical centres, trying to send? That women accessing abortions are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies? It’s like something from the dark days of the Magdalene Laundries.

Even Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has called for exclusion zones, and said that these protesters would be better off spending their time elsewhere.

Of course, if these anti-choice harassment artists really wanted to prevent abortion, they would be out campaigning for greater access to contraception and better sex education in schools. But no, they are outside our hospitals and medical centres, hissing and curtain-twitching at potentially vulnerable women.

Those of us who campaigned to Repeal the Eighth are sadly not surprised.

Susan Burke Trehy

Douglas, Co Cork


A British exit from the EU by any other name…

Watching the unfolding of the Brexit debacle in the UK, I suggest the word Brexit will soon be replaced by Brisaster. Aidan Hampson

Artane, Dublin 5


‘Dancing with the Stars?’ I always vote with my feet

‘Dancing with the Stars’ always helps my fitness levels – amazing the distance one can cover in a two-hour walk in the fresh air around 6.30pm on Sundays.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

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