LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BRIAN, THE LION & THE UNICORN

4 November 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

It was really frisky of Brian McKenna to resurrect the cry, last heard a half century or so ago, for the removal from the facade of the Courthouse of the Lion & Unicorn (NS, 20 October).

Brian is not of course alone in wishing to remove or destroy historical symbols and artefacts.

And, as readers will know, he finds himself in illustrious company. These iconoclasts include: the Taliban’s destruction of the Afghanistan Buddha carvings; the razing by IS of the Temple of Baal at Palmyra; the Khmer Rouge’s devastating attack on Cambodia’s heritage; and the vandalising of the ancient archives at Timbuktu.
Attempted justifications, where given, were usually of alleged conflicts with primitive ideologies or religions. The current case – the campaign for the removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue from the facade of Oriel College, Oxford, has the possible limited merit of being motivated by youthful idealism. But it mainly turns on the fallacious belief that ancient wrongs can be partly righted by removing some of the evidence.

If Brian did offer grounds for his proposal during the Council’s discussion, they seemed to relate in some manner to his posterior, possibly in some Freudian sense. But this is speculation. A more plausible explanation could be that his party is still embarrassed by its non-participation in the Easter Rising and now strives to be seen as the main keeper of the nationalist flame. This view might be seen to have support from Sinn Fein’s dominant role in the 1916 commemorations; its lobbying for the motorway white elephant; and now in its return to the Lion & Unicorn issue.

Yours sincerely,
Owen Murphy
Chelsea, London

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