"You go across the water and they’re all mad" - Colm Tóibín on how Brexit has turned the tables 4 years ago

"You go across the water and they’re all mad" - Colm Tóibín on how Brexit has turned the tables

On the strength of this week's evidence, you have to say the man has a point...

Author, essayist, poet and cultural commentator Colm Tóibín has been well tuned in to societal shifts for years now, and so his views on the Brexit catastrophe are worth acquiring.


Our guest on this week's Ireland Unfiltered, Tóibín was in fine form.

With the subject of Brexit raised by host Dion Fanning, Tóibín quickly noted that there has been a notable shift in attitudes when Irish and English people are compared and contrasted, and that the tables have visibly turned in that regard.

"I think a lot of the things that Irish people got really het up about, English people are now getting really het up about, such as sovereignty, such as our independence, such as our nearest neighbour being our biggest enemy," Tóibín argued.

"So you’re hearing all that from across the water which is really odd because you thought they were meant to be rational, hard-headed and we were meant to be sort of soft hearted and sort of childlike and prone to violence. Well, look who’s all emotional now.


"I mean, look at Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar. Two most rational people. They look good, they sound rational, they put thought into what they’re saying and there isn’t an ounce of emotion in either of them and you go across the water and they’re all mad."

Expanding on the subject a little later in the show, Tóibín described it as a "privilege" to be a part of the European Union.

"I think the European Union is one of the greatest political inventions in history, the most unlikely one, and one which I think is progressive and is concerned with people’s welfare," he explained.


"It isn’t there to control, although there are elements of that but it isn’t there to create barriers to control. It’s there to open up barriers and to allow certain freedoms including the freedom for capital to move between countries freely but also for people to do so.

"If you can benefit from it - the whole way education works or if you’ve got a job for example the holidays you get courtesy of the European Union. There’s so many things we get, courtesy of the European Union, that we’ve almost forgotten about it as being the thing that I think really has lifted our lives.

"And Britain forgot about it completely."

Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.