Well, I guess you are used to love letters from misty-eyed emigrants, remembering your beauty and charm, but don’t get too comfortable because I am writing to tell you what I really think of you. I am writing this as my sisters and brothers in Dublin are on the streets tonight to protest what you have done to a woman who came to you seeking asylum and found that she was pregnant as a result of rape. You denied her an abortion until she was suicidal and went on hunger strike, then you forced her to have a cesarean section at 25 weeks. Ireland of the welcomes? That’s how you like to think of yourself is n’t it?
What have you become? There was a time when I loved you, though never unconditionally. I always hated your sentimentality and hypocrisy but I loved much of your history and culture. There was something great about the long nurturing of dreams of freedom despite the odds being so stacked against you. I loved your love of poetry and writing, and not just of the sentimental variety. You produced and celebrated writers of great cynicism and wit. So, how did it come to this?
Let me (mis) quote Yeats, cos you like that kind of cultural thing, don’t you? It’s good for drawing in the tourists now. And of course, you made me learn it well when I was a child.
Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmett and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave
I left you when I was 20. I left for many reasons but one of those was because you designated me, as a woman, a second class citizen, a vessel. You are not a safe place for women, or children. I used to miss you, even yearn for you and what I left behind but I’m over you now.
I hate what you have become – a grubby little theocracy, still fumbling in your greasy till, where blind eyes are turned to the torture and abuse of women and children. I had no choice when you designated me a vessel but I have a choice now and I choose to be a stateless person. I am not yours and you are not mine. I have no homeland. I have no home.
Ireland’s reply to Angela
Angela, A Chara,
So, now you are ‘a woman without a country’. Do you feel free?
You write to me in anger, pointing your finger, accusing me of many things and denying me. But who am I if not my people? I am the oppressor, as you accuse me, but I am also the resistance. I am the woman tortured by the state and her torturers and I am also your sisters and brothers who protest in the streets. I am the philistine and the one who gave you your love of poetry.
You accuse me from another country. England, isn’t it? Is that a better place? Did you find your liberation there? Are you not a second class citizen there?
You left me but you could have stayed and tried to make me better than I am. You could have stood with your sisters and brothers in protest but you chose to leave. Angela, A Chara, is that not the ultimate turning of a blind eye?
I am also the emigrant, whether misty eyed and sentimental or full of bitterness and anger. I am you. You are me.