– Easter 1916
With the triggering by the British Government in March 2017 of Article 50 to remove the UK from the European Union, Yeats’ question receives, perhaps, a rather definitive answer.
The foundations of Irish peace are European. Ireland’s and Britain’s common membership of the European Union allowed for some of the most corrosive aspects of the relationships between the two islands, and within the island of Ireland, to be finessed and for relationships to be recast in more constructive ways. Now that the Troubles are taking on the aspect of history it is too easy to forget how ghastly they truly were, and the sort of concerted, painful political effort that was necessary to bring them to some sort of conclusion.
But the careful progress that has been made towards a more enduring peace has been cast aside by the English political establishment as something of no account. So intent are English nationalists now on their dreams of reclaiming some long past imperial “glory” they plan to devastate the foundations of that peace with no thought of the consequences.
England won’t ever keep faith with Ireland, it seems. Ireland’s interests, Ireland’s peace, will always be subordinate to English prejudices and xenophobia.