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Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell

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Snippet Contents:

I want to make one or two comments on Brexit. I know about imports and exports, the economy, jobs, the Border, violence and the lack of certainty regarding the future. Something very interesting was said about Ulster unionism last night. It was actually said about Senator Richmond, who has been absolutely outstanding as a voice on Brexit, as has Mr. Michael Harding. Mr. Harding is a writer and a philosopher, as the House knows. He said that we have so much in common with Northern Ireland, the Northern tradition and Ulstermen in theatre, language, poetry, drama and music. I am not hearing any of that. Senator Richmond spoke about his unionist grandparents who lived in Cavan.
All communication at this stage in the negotiation has to be open, taking in all strata, all levels and all kinds. It should not be limited to economic issues or those pertaining to the Border or violence. I refer to music, literature and drama. One of Seamus Heaney's lines was "take a last turn in reasonable light". He considered himself an Ulster Irishman and an Irish Ulsterman. I refer to Beckett, Wilde, C.S. Lewis, Louis MacNeice and Friel, who attended to the area of language and its power. They considered what can happen to us when language turns from what we want to happen into something far more murky and violent. I refer to the works of Brian Moore, Flann O'Brien, Glenn Patterson, Michael Longley, Jennifer Johnston, Bernard MacLaverty and Marie Jones. I did not even start on the musicians. I refer also to Benedict Kiely and William Trevor, who said he was a "lace-curtain Protestant". In his poem, "Fosterage", dedicated to Michael McLaverty, Seamus Heaney wrote: That seems to be what it has become. We need all strata of communication to be open. What is wrong with asking artists, philosophers, writers and dramatists to speak about this? The way forward cannot always be political. There are thousands of different ways forward now. I just wanted to make that point. I will leave you with this line from a comedy song by Frank McCrory, which describes a lot of what I am hearing on television: We need to be very careful about how we move forward. We must do the best for both our islands, traditions and peoples and have respect for them all.