From Irish Political Review: December 2007

Editorial Commentary


Mary Hanafin, has distributed copies of Eamon DeValera’s biography to 2,000 schools. De Valera was the founder of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are insisting that this is party political and are calling for balance. A biography of Michael Collins has been suggested. But Michael Collins was not a founder of Fine Gael. He was not even a member of Fine Gael's predecessor Cummann na nGaedheal, which was only founded after his death.
Does a sympathetic biography of Dev exist? And if one is to get party political about the matter surely balance would be better achieved with a biography of General Eoin O’Duffy. O'Duffy was a founder of Fine Gael. He was the party's first leader. Could Fine Gael object to that?

THE BRITISH LEGION… in Ireland was very put out by their WW2 veterans not being invited to the Queen of England’s anniversary bash at her embassy in Dublin. In the end its Chairman rang up and invited himself. President McAleese did the same. The matter was reported by Liam Collins in the Sindo on 25th November. Collins concluded in the following refreshing manner:
"This garden party was held at the British ambassador's residence in Glencairn, near Sandyford, and the "snub" was satirised in a poem written by Morgan Dockrell:
It matters not that Granpa Tom
Was decorated at the Somme,
That cousin Percy didn't shirk
His Duty, fleeing to Dunkirk.
Better for us to row by row
Have gathered in the GPO.
H E decides we've no more clout,
Which means that socially we're OUT."

seems to be falling over backwards with stories and articles from the "other tradition". These are mostly WW1 stories, so I suppose they concern the Irish News’ own tradition as well. On the Eve of Remembrance Day Gordon Lucy shared is thoughts with us. After declaring the 1916 celebrations last year were a bit of a setback he says:
"Mr [Dermot] Ahern claimed that without ‘a shared past’ we cannot have ‘a shared future’. Whereas the legacy of the events of Easter Week is divisive, there is no greater shared experience than the Great War" … "Sixty-four insurgents were killed during the fighting of Easter week. Significantly more men died that same week on April 27 1916 when the Germans launched a gas attack at Hulluch near Loos, on the men of the 16th (Irish) Division."
Lucy was particularly pleased about the unveiling of a WW1 memorial in Waterford which included the name of John Condon. John Condon was fourteen years of age when he was killed! Don’t people get hauled off to The Hague for that sort of thing these days? Over the last year the Irish News has been returning to its roots with a vengeance.

MARTIN McGUINNESS… had the following to say in an interview with the Irish Times on 8th November:
"I think I can say without fear of contradiction that in the last six months Ian Paisley and I have not exchanged an angry word between us. That is the truth of the matter and I think the public will be pleased to hear that. But there are individual members of the SDLP who walk past me in corridors in this building as if I didn't exist.
"I think I have a far better working relationship with Ian Paisley than Mark Durkan or Séamus Mallon ever had with David Trimble. I think that grates on them, it hurts them that the DUP and Sinn Féin have managed not just to get this government up but run it properly in a fashion that can deliver for the people."
MUSEUMS… all over the world contain exhibits tracing the histories of their localities and are often marked with little signs of thanks to their proud donors. That seems to be no longer the way of things in Ireland. Some months ago mementos of Tom Clarke were sold off for a small fortune.
The latest cashing-in is the sale of a letter from Michael Collins to Thomas Ashe for 260,000 euros by descendents of Ashe. Other items on sale relate to historical figures like Countess Markiewicz and Richard Mulcahy. The total could reach 2 million euros.
In the course of 2008, Athol Books will be publishing an account of the 1916 Rising in North County Dublin which was led by Thomas Ashe and was the most successful battle of the Rising.
JIM ("Jim Who?") ALLISTER… former DUP and current Independent Unionist MEP has been setting up a new Unionist party on and off for some months now. His latest outing was at a dinner cum jumble sale in Templepatrick on 26th November. He said:
"I have one piece of good news for unionism. Shortly, I expect the launch of a political movement to provide a voice for those presently [sic] disenfranchised, which will hold the respectable traditional unionist ground once held by those who shamefully swung open the door of government to IRA/Sinn Fein."
THE IRISH NEWS: Following the collapse of the Sinn Fein-oriented and rather woeful paper, Daily Ireland, the Irish News went into a kind of flux. This resulted in a period of vibrancy as the paper tried to reposition itself. In particular its letters pages were full of lively debate. In the last couple of months the paper seems to have settled into a groove. By and large it is supportive of the SDLP and the OUP. It gets very sentimental about the good old Hibernian days of the Parliamentary Party and the British connection.
It has more news about the Catholic Church than it has had for many years. Its letters page (usually now only one page) is more and more parochial. By contrast, both the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter have become quite readable.
STATE IMMUNITY? Former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell libelled Mairtin O Muilleoir, the publisher of the erstwhile Daily Ireland, and its Editor, Robin Livingstone: he called them fascist during an assault on he paper delivered just before publication started in February 2005. (The paper shut down in September 2006.) The object of McDowell's intervention was to prevent the paper getting a circulation and was delivered with all the authority of his office. However the Irish Government has accepted responsibility for McDowell's outrageous attack and pleaded State Immunity in response to libel proceedings brought in the Belfast High Court. It says that McDowell made his remarks in his capacity of Minister for Justice. O Muilleoir has been left with a £20,000 legal bill (IN 14.11.07). Lord Justice Higgins accepted the State Immunity plea without 'looking behind it', to see if McDowell's outburst was a valid exercise of his Ministerial powers. The ruling seems to suggest that parliamentary immunity from libel prosecution has been arbitrarily extended by the Belfast High Court to cover all Ministerial statements, whether delivered in Parliament or not. O Muilleoir might have done better to bring his case in Dublin and should certainly consider taking it to Europe.
LOUISE ARBOUR… UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised the question whether a Veto, exercised in the Security Council, to stymie an initiative "to reduce the risk of or ending genocide would not constitute a violation of the genocide convention" (IT 22.11.07). She is thus suggesting that the UN Convention on Genocide does not just over-rule national law, but also the UN Charter—which makes the Veto sacrosanct. We wonder how many divisions she has!

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