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15th of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 05:18

There has been a mad flurry of correspondence on the Irish Times letters page recently on the statue to the Duke of Wellington in Trim. Martin Mansergh weighed in with this;

Statue of Wellington in Trim Madam, -- The Duke of Wellington was one of the most famous European figures of his day, an elder statesman with a lapidary turn of phrase, a lucid reactionary and not particularly bigoted by the standards of his day. It is also of interest that Wellington is probably the only British prime minister to have been born in Ireland and married to an Irish-born woman, Kitty Pakenham about whom he was as ungallant as about his birthplace. The Trim monument is not the only one. There is a huge one in the Phoenix Park, and there are also streets and squares named after him in several parts of the country (my brother lives on one in Cork). While the United Irishmen certainly sought French help to achieve independence, Robert Emmet, for one, had no wish to be taken over by Napoleon. Of course, Daniel O'Connell deserves far more credit for extracting Catholic Emancipation from the government of which Wellington was head. Decisions about the future of monuments are primarily for the people of the locality and the heirtage authorities. In general, it is not a good idea at this stage of our development to be still uprooting the surviving aesthetic evidence of some of the many different strands and stages of our history, particularly if we still have the ambition to build by agreement and consent one day a united, independent country embracing all traditions, not rejecting some as foreign, and that will be friends with our neighbours in Britain, as indeed the Republic is today. That is why the State has purchased the battlefield of the Boyne. The Dún Laoghaire authorities have even recently restored a memorial to Queen Victoria's last visit in 1900. We should give no credence or credibility by our attitudes or actions to crude unionist propaganda, whether from Orange platforms or more politically sophisticated pamphlets, that the Republic (officially, at least) is monocultural in outlook, or anything other than pluralist, multicultural and inclusive, but with a very understandable preference, other things being equal, for the people and things most closely identified with Ireland. Most people, no matter what mix of traditions they come from, as well as visitors, like to see evidence here as elsewhere of a generous, tolerant and broad-minded people. If staunchly Republican France can treat Louis XIV's palace at Versailles as one of its greatest national monuments, we too in Ireland can manage positively and constructively the cultural legacy of the past, even where aspects of it, like Dublin Castle with its viceregal portraits or the monument at Trim were but are no longer oppressive. To paraphrase Emmet's poem on Arbour Hill (1802), where "no rising column marks this spot" (though there is now since 1998 a low-lying memorial on Croppies' Acre), magnanimity, not retribution, should be the hallmark of this Republic. Yours, etc. MARTIN MANSERGH Seanad Éireann Dublin 2 

which I thought was brilliant. He really should go do constituency work and tone down that Oxford accent a bit, because with him running the country we’d be sorted. At least on the National question. So there.

And with regard to http://​www.​calpundit.​com/​archives/​001894.​html ; decrying prescriptivism of language as “artificial” kind of misses the point a little, because language as a whole—especially written language—is one of the most man-made, artficial things there is. To preserve it by conscious effort among the lettered classes and to change it by much less conscious effort among the less lettered are equivalent in that sense.

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