My Great-Grandfather Lance Corporal Joseph Bohan-O’Shea, killed 1916, Battle of the Somme.
It’s been a week. Please forgive the wooziness of this post but I’m lying in bed post-operation and full of pain killers. My surgery followed seven tumultuous days here in the UK, where I’m currently based. The country went to the polls and opted to leave the EU. I’m still reeling from this result. Not that my operation had any relation to the referendum, but it was a suitably crap way to cap a crap week.
As a staunch pro-European I believe Brexit a sad and misguided mis-step, that will eventually deliver to the little Englanders exactly that, a little England. I’ve rarely experienced the anti-Irish prejudice here that was so prevalent during my grandparents’ years in the UK, however it does appear that the monster of intolerance and prejudice is raising its ugly head here again and all of this marks a deeply lamentable sea-change in the consensus in Britain. I am pessimistic for the future.
Of course, the wake of the Brexit vote saw the PM resign and his assassin in turn stabbed in the back, whilst the opposition party Labour imploded. And England were kicked out of the Euros by Iceland. Strange days indeed.
Meanwhile, my country Ireland saw its fans awarded a medal for sportsmanship by the mayor of Paris. There’s a scramble for Irish passports by worried Brits with an Irish grandmother (Irish grandparents turn up in the most surprising and diverse family trees: Margaret Thatcher, Sophie Wessex, Che Guevara, Mohammed Ali… to name but a few). Whilst we worry of the re-emergence of the physical border between Ireland (now the most Western outpost of the EU) and the UK, which does not bode well for the peace process.
And somewhat indicative of the historic ties between the UK and its neighbour, Ireland, this day, July 1st, commemorates the Battle of the Somme, where my great-grandfather was killed 100 years ago, wearing a British uniform. It should be a day upon which we remember why the EU, however imperfect, exists – instead, Britain seems intent on issuing divorce proceedings. It’s all wrong.