Monday, October 09, 2006


The British - AND IRISH - Isles

It's been a while since I perused the letters section of the Irish Examiner but I came across a letter that I strongly agree with so I figured I'd give it a mention. Here it is in its entirety:

"Congratulations to the publisher Folens for terminating the practice of describing the Ireland/UK area as the ‘British Isles’.

"The term is not an innocent geographic label and is used for sinister purposes by extreme nationalist and racist groups in the UK.

"Its use incites anti-Irish sentiment leading to attacks on Catholics in many deprived areas of the UK.

"How about calling the archipelago the ‘West Euros’. It is accurate, simple, modern, short and neutral with no pejorative connotations. Like the West Indies, it could become a term for a diverse area and make all our conversations in cross-cultural situations in UK/Ireland less prone to embarrassment."

John Murphy, Co Louth

I agree 100 per cent with Mr Murphy. I mean is there any geographical term around right now more inaccurate and insensitive than the term 'British Isles'? Well, besides 'Londonderry'? I think not.

I abhor the 'British Isles' term as it ignores proper geographical and political realities and offers no consideration for the people who inhabit this island.

There is an island called Britain and an island called Ireland. If an alien were to land on this planet and be told that the two islands collectively are called 'the British Isles' I'm sure our intergalactic friend would be most perplexed and who can blame him/it?

Hey Brits, this ain't Britain

I've yet to hear a good case be made for the retention of this archaic term. Let's also remember that in rugby, the team formerly known as the 'British Lions' were renamed the 'British and Irish Lions'. Presumably this was done to rectify the unfair situation where the Irishness of the team was overlooked!

So why is it OK to overlook the Irishness of these islands as a whole? I don't mind what term gets used for this part of the world. Hell, the 'British and Irish Isles' would be fine with me. I just want parity of esteem. I just want equality.

I don't find it acceptable that this island's occupants are being heaped in with the occupants of another island.

I live in IRELAND not BRITAIN. Well done to Folens for restoring some dignity to the Irish people.

Maybe one day the British people will do likewise...


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