Just read this article by Julian Gough in the Irish Times, on whether the Irish Department of Defence has the right to name naval ships after Beckett and Joyce. It's a good read, but I'm not 100% sure I'm on board with him.
First he quotes Neil Jordan's objection, which is valid: “I am organising a roll call of writers and artists who will refuse to have weaponised naval systems named after them.” Actually I feel this argument is strong enough by itself. After that, the DoD replied with some horseshit about brand recognition? Fuck that.
The middle of the article does a great job of calling out our State for being an utter disgrace during the 20th century - banning books on a whim, contributing to continued abuse at the hands of the church, and basically forcing writers to emigrate out of fear of censorship.
However he equates the banning of Beckett's work in the 60's with the Governments lack of right to use Beckett's name, and contrasts the backwardness of the Government with modernity by pointing out the Beatles were in the charts. But this isn't altogether reasonable: the US was still hashing out equality for non-whites in the 60's, Franco was still in charge of Spain, and Swiss women still couldn't vote. Does the US not have the right to name things after black people? Does Switzerland not the right to name things after Swiss women? The moral zeitgeist moves on I guess. One shouldn't forget all things, but holding the current government (of any nation) responsible for sins of the past seems like something we should try to move past.
The last page doesn't exactly hold up for me. He points out the interesting but cherry-picked statistic from Pat Collin's What We Leave in Our Wake that one in every two Irish people born since 1800 have emigrated, and says: "Ireland is a failed state that dumps its young on the doorsteps of other nations". Is this fair? Firstly if I had more time I'd like to chase down this dubious sounding statistic. As people point out in the comments section, this is hardly fair for multiple reasons, especially since we weren't even a State till 1922 (or 1919 (or 1937...)), and famines etc.
Anyway, Julian claims the problem is still a contemporary one. He's right I suppose, although it seems that's more a function of how hard we were hit by the financial crisis than any long term failure of our State. He references the fact that he was "forced out" in 2007, and in the comments section he says we have one of the worst net migration rates, 176th in the world and last in Europe. Unfortunately it appears Julian pulled this data from the Wikipedia page - but this data is two years out of date. The actual source for the wiki page is the CIA's world factbook, which has a 2014 version available - Ireland now with a net positive migration, and up to 34th! Pretty high in Europe too. This is before I even question the usage of net migration.
He seems annoyed with Enda Kenny for not apologising for how shit our country is - has Julian been back recently? Anyway.
Also, Julian will note we already use Beckett's name: the (almost) five year old Samuel Beckett Bridge. I guess I would tie this in with Neil Jordan's point: bridges are fine, naval ships not so much.
After all this negativity, it's a good article, and an interesting perspective on what rights the government give up in the future through current actions. I may disagree with some of his logic, but I certainly agree it's poor form to name naval ships after two Irish literary legends.
(I must add that Julian's responses to some criticisms in the comments section are very amusing - I guess you have to learn to respond well to online hecklers when you write for a large audience)