Published in Editorial, Issue 4 (July/August 2019), Volume 27

editorIn all the media hoopla surrounding President Trump’s recent visit to Europe very little attention was paid to the ostensible purpose of the visit—to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings, a key contribution to the eventual defeat of fascism and Nazism a year later. (Needless to say, no mention at all was made of the contribution of the Soviet Union to that titanic struggle.)

These events are worthy of commemoration here—not just in Northern Ireland, which was directly involved, but also in the South, whose neutrality undoubtedly favoured the Allies and tens of thousands of whose citizens enlisted in the British or US armies or made their contribution as emigrants in Britain’s war industries. They are worthy of commemoration, too, for the many consequent positive achievements: enhanced international cooperation through the United Nations and its agencies; the welfare state; and an egalitarian spirit reflected in a 30-year period of relatively lower income inequality.

All of these achievements have been under sustained attack over the past generation: international cooperation has given way to unilateralism in the form of trade wars and an atmosphere of narrow nationalism and racism; the welfare state is now seen as an impediment to ‘the market’ and ‘freedom of choice’; and income disparity has ballooned massively since the 1970s.

It was indeed ironic, therefore, that the most vocal proponent of all of the above, Donald Trump, was centre stage at the recent commemorations. It was doubly ironic that in the ‘tremendous trade deal’ that he would offer the UK after Brexit everything would be on the table—including the National Health Service, the jewel in the crown of the post-war British welfare state.

Finally, in relation to D-Day, we should recall that neutral Ireland continued to supply the British with weather reports throughout the war. It was one such report, from Blacksod Point lighthouse, Co. Mayo, on 4 June 1944, that gave the green light for the invasion to commence.

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