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Well, it wasn’t too difficult to foresee, but as suggested yesterday, the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent are reporting today that the US administration have decided not to invite SF to the Whitehouse St Patrick’s Day event.. oh.. and no invites either for any other political parties.. Irish Government representatives only.

The Irish Independent sums up the reasons behind the decision –

President Bush has decided to bar the republicans because they have been linked to the Northern Bank robbery and other IRA crime.

But he has listened to appeals that Sinn Fein should not be singled out for exclusion and the ban will now also apply to all the North’s political parties, including the SDLP, the DUP and the Ulster Unionists.

The harder stance of the White House was signalled in the Dail yesterday by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He said the decision had already been taken by the US Government. He did not spell out precisely what that decision involves but it emerged last night that there will be a much-curtailed series of events involving only representatives of the Irish Government.

So, rather than allow SF to ‘play the victim card’ all the parties will be equally victimised.. Hmmm.. It will be interesting to see how the various parties respond to that one – although you should already be able to see what the official line on this one will be – “much-curtailed series of events due to other considerations..”, perhaps?

Keep writing guys.. What a lovely bowl.. My, what a lovely bowl.. Gosh, what a lovely bowl..

  • Davros

    It seems like a clever move pete. A rap on the knuckles without martyrdom.

  • slug9987

    It’s a good opportunity to end that Clintonian tradition of having all the NI politicians go to the USA. Prediction: it will not be revived next year regardless how things go.

    There was something a bit pathetic about it – all the NI politicians queueing up to go to Washington to be patted on the back on their own Saint’s day.

  • peteb

    Possibly Davros.. but it’s ducking the issue.. again. And – “It will be interesting to see how the various parties respond to that one”

  • Davros

    I don’t think it is ducking the issue pete. It’s surprisingly subtle pressure from the Bush administration when we consider how it behaves elsewhere.

  • armaghman

    There is something a bit crawling and pathetic about the whole notion of any politician from Ireland going through this rigmarole of kowtowing to the US president. Ireland barely registers on Bush’s radar let’s not pretend that it does.

  • Davros

    Ireland barely registers on Bush’s radar

    One for our American posters – Now that the election is over, how important is “Irish America” to the Republican Government ?

  • vespasian

    I think the whole thing was pathetic anyway………….people from all sides who want to clebrate St Patrick’s day should do it in Ireland (the island of)in a non sectarian context and encourage others to come and join in to boost tourism.

    Traipsing off to the White House to present bowls Shamrock should be left to the Ambassadors in Washington, that is what they are supposed to do anyway represent their countries.

    Why should politics be any part of Saint Patrick?

  • Davros

    Why should politics be any part of Saint Patrick?

    History. No matter which at you look at it, in a religious or a cultural context, there’s a political dimension.

  • peteb

    Let’s see how SF rewrites Gerry Kelly’s recent visit to the US in the light of this.

  • DerryTerry

    I would imagine lots of Sinn Fein supporters will be delighted if they are spared the spectacle of their leadership lining up to shake hands with Bush. I’m not sure how the supporters of other parties would take the snub, but I cannot imagine any of them losing sleep over. Simply put, its no big deal.

  • Davros

    DT – when you write “I would imagine lots of Sinn Fein supporters will be delighted if they are spared the spectacle of their leadership lining up to shake hands with Bush.” I assume you mean SF supporters in Ireland ?

  • vespasian

    Davos

    Looked at the right light going down to the pub or even having a cup of tea (Punjana’s v. Barry’s) has a political connotation in Northern Ireland.

    The question is should we let it continue?

  • slug9987

    Didn’t Niall O’Dowd say in a recent article that SF would be invited to Washington on StP. I suppose we will have to wait to see what the truth is – time will tell in this case.

  • DerryTerry

    Davros, yes.

  • Davros

    Vespasian – “religion” has such a strong function in society generally and in NI especially that I don’t see how we can stop it.

  • peteb

    slug

    re: Niall O’Dowd

    As I said, “Let’s see how SF rewrites Gerry Kelly’s recent visit to the US in the light of this.”

  • slackjaw

    The pilgrimage to Washington by political leaders on St. Patrick’s Day is vomit-inducing. If there really has to be a day in which a concept as nebulous as ‘being Irish’ has to be celebrated, it need not involve Irish political representatives kissing ass in the White House. As pointed out above, that is what ambassadors are for. All the present convention says is that the ultimate celebration of ‘being Irish’ is subject to American approval.

    The religious aspect is still to the fore. On 17th of March, the president of The United States acts for the Irish people as a modern proxy for Saint Patrick: ‘On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile/And now thou art high in thy White House above/On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.’ Blech.

    Time ‘the Irish people’ did away with this crass nonsense.

  • Davros

    That’s an interesting take on it sj – does Bush’s form of evangelical religion even acknowledge Saints ?

  • Friendly Fire

    I’m with you slackjaw, scrap the bank holiday, no junkets, make it a holy day of obligation for those that like to oblidge, and give us a monday bank holiday in July.

  • Vera

    As much as I hate the Bush administration and disagree with practially everything they stand for, I’ve got to say, I think they’ve played this exactly right. There’s no real reason to have all the northern parties come to the White House anyway, and as slug9987 says this may in fact turn out to be permanent. So while the timing of this move may be justly percieved as a slap at Sinn Fein over the robbery, the exclusion of northern parties could be portrayed as simply part of an overall policy change.

    “Ireland barely registers on Bush’s radar”

    “One for our American posters – Now that the election is over, how important is “Irish America” to the Republican Government ?”

    The thing is, these are two very different issues. “Irish America” will continue to be important to the administration. 40 million potential voters is too many to ignore, especially now that many Catholics are gradually turning away from their traditional home in the Democratic Party and embracing the cultural conservatism of the Republicans. Irish-American Catholics are essential to the party’s long term plans for a permanent majority.

    But the other issue, does Ireland matter, is different. Ireland is not even on the foreign policy map as far as anyone here is concerned, and unless bombs start going off again it’s going to stay that way. I guarantee you, if you asked 10 people on the street what they thought about the northern bank robbery and whether the IRA did it, 9 would answer “What?” And the other 1 would say “I guess they did, that’s what it said in the paper” and shrug indifferently. I don’t think it even made the evening news when it happened. And that goes for Irish-Americans almost as much as for everyone else. Because you’ve been (more or less) at peace for such a long time, and because we have much bigger problems in the world, Northern Ireland matters less to Irish-Americans than it used to. And even at the height of the troubles it didn’t matter nearly as much as you guys tend to think it did. If 10,000 people gave money to Noraid (I have no idea how many people actually did, but I suspect it’s less than that) that probably looks like alot to you guys because you’re a much smaller country, but you have to remember that that would still be less than 1% of the Irish-American population here.

    So, the short version of that long, rambling answer is that Bush needs Irish-America, but he can probably afford to ignore Ireland without loosing many of them.

  • Keith M

    This is a sensible move. St.Patrick’s Day is the National Holiday of Ireland, and the only invites should go to the government of Ireland.

    Regarding the issue of holidays; I think it’s time St.Patrick’s Day was given the status of a full public holiday in Northern Ireland to show that he is the patron saint of the whole island. In return, the Republic should make 12th July a public holiday in celebration of the most significant battle ever fought on the islans. (Not to mention there’s a bettter chance of good weather in July!). This would be hands accross the border in a non-threatening way that everyone should be able to celebrate.

  • Vera

    The religious aspect is still to the fore. On 17th of March, the president of The United States acts for the Irish people as a modern proxy for Saint Patrick: ‘On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile/And now thou art high in thy White House above/On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.’ Blech.

    That is an interesting interpretation, slackjaw, and there may be an element of truth in it. Of course, as Davros points out, Bush’s religion doesn’t recognize saints. But the American Civic Religion does have saints (though they are mostly secular, i.e. the founding fathers). St. Patrick’s Day has become a holiday in the American Civic Relgion as well, and the president is the high-priest of the Civic Religion.

    So, in a way, this whole going to the White House on St. Partick’s Day thing is kind of like Ireland buying into our American collective weirdness and accepting your place in our myths. Why y’all would want to do that is a bit of a mystery.

  • Davros

    Thanks for the feed-back Vera.

  • Davros

    One point this raises – the status of the diaspora. If they ARE ‘Irish’, then the day assumes all sorts of importance in cultural and religious terms for the USA.

  • PS

    Regarding the issue of holidays; I think it’s time St.Patrick’s Day was given the status of a full public holiday in Northern Ireland to show that he is the patron saint of the whole island. In return, the Republic should make 12th July a public holiday in celebration of the most significant battle ever fought on the islans. (Not to mention there’s a bettter chance of good weather in July!). This would be hands accross the border in a non-threatening way that everyone should be able to celebrate.

    For once I have to agree with Keith. Although i think the battle of the Boyne is nothing to celebrate and I believe the Orange Order to be a secterian organisation dedicated to prolonging tension between our communities and fostering anti-Catholicism, I do believe that bank and public holidays should be simultaneous across the island. It would be hugely convenient for many. as an example, all island sporting activities could easily be organised on bank holidays without fear of excluding either section of Ireland. This change could be phased in, the most obvious starting point being the August bank holiday which is the first weekend in August for the south but doesn’t happen untill the last Monday of the month for those in the six counties.

  • Davros

    The very question as to whether we should have Patron Saints is loaded . Is it acceptable to force a Patron Saint on those who don’t believe in Christianity, let alone the concept of Sainthood within christianity ? Is it right to enshrine a religious obligation in law onto Irish Muslims and Hindus?

  • PS

    Nobody’s really having anything “forced” upon them, Davros. Public holidays are going to on certain days in any event and it surely makes sense if the particular day has a signifance for many on the island and those who feel no attachment to st Patrick can merely enjoy their holiday in the same manner as the rest of us enjoy May Day – it’s a day off work!

  • slug9987

    What bank holiday should go in return? August?

  • James

    “how important is “Irish America” to the Republican Government ?”

    The Irish Caucus Republicans can easily do to Bush what the Boll Weevil Democrats (irony there for insiders) did to Tip O’Neil.

    The USA is the Republic’s largest export market.

    Connect the dots.

  • George

    James,

    Ireland is now the 9th largest investor in the US so the dots work both ways.

  • peteb

    I’ve updated the original post.

  • Alan2

    “I do believe that bank and public holidays should be simultaneous across the island”

    Scotland has different bank holidays to England and Wales

  • pakman

    Two points – if St Patrick is a symbol both the British and Irish inhabitants of this island can have ownership of surely the representatives of the UK and Irish governments should get White House invites.

    Secondly, if this is the final nail in the vile “Ireland Week” in DC then to paraphrase the Baroness rejoyce, rejoyce, rejoyce. Unionists were always reluctant participants, going only to provide a veneer of balance to spare US blushes. At least future generations will be spared a Unionist leader sporting a tartan bow tie (ready tied with velcro strapping) & matching cumberbund at a black tie St. Particks’ Night Ball.

  • pakman

    “rejoyce ?”
    Sorry one and all, please read “rejoice”

  • James

    Ireland is now the 9th largest investor in the US so the dots work both ways.

    Ignoring, for the moment, that the above is the most naive statement I have ever read on the Internet, yeah, you are up there just behind Cayman Islands, of all ironies.

    Oil up your crossbow, Tulley Bascombe, it’s your big day for a rumble in the bog with the heavy hitters.

    I’ll tell ya what, you yank ALL your investment and I’ll pull one wee 300mm, 65 nano fab. They will be wearing your guts for garters in the Dail if the Kildare County Council and the bean counters don’t catch up with you first.

    I still get the shamrock salad.

  • Davros

    I thought it was a clever pun rather than a typo pakman 🙂

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    James, sounds like you’re suggesting the government may tell Intel where to direct it’s investment. I didn’t think you’d be in favour of a command economy.

    Yes, Bush should definitely snub all of our NI politicians. Year after year grinds on, with no deal meaningfully in sight. Most of our politicians can’t point to a single development within the past five years that they’ve achieved to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland. It’s quite right that this laziness and political sloth shouldn’t be underwritten by the White House.

  • James

    “James, sounds like you’re suggesting the government may tell Intel where to direct it’s investment.”

    A little twitch of the tax code, a few calls to the IRS and he can make anything disappear. It’s not all done with ordinance: Acquaint yourself with how France got New Zealand to free the spooks who ran the Rainbow Warrior caper.

    “I didn’t think you’d be in favour of a command economy.

    What, an old commie pinko like me?

  • Robert Keogh

    The Whitehouse has issued a statement saying no decision has been taken.

    Next time people ask why I’m sceptical of the veracity of reportage in the Irish Independent you will have an example.

  • Davros

    The Whitehouse has issued a statement saying no decision has been taken.

    You trust them ?

  • peteb

    With all due respect, Robert.. you’re a little late with that news – see the update in the original post.

    And just because there’s an official statement doesn’t mean they haven’t made that decision already.

  • Davros

    Pete – reading your update – looks as if a decision has been taken, but not finalised. Decide, hint, see reaction, finalise depending on balance of reaction ?

  • peteb

    The BBC report, as it now reads, may be somewhat misleading, Davros.. when I posted the link (at 5:10pm) there had been no reaction noted from the political parties. I think there was an expectation that an announcement would have been made this afternoon.

    Your suggested scenario doesn’t quite justify the use of the word ‘decide’ though.

  • Rick

    If the news is to be believed, it sounds like “Dubya” is focused not only on the bank robbery and excluding Sinn Fein. He is expressing displeasure toward all players for failing to broker a deal at year’s end, thus it is an across-the-board snub.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    James, fair enough. You old commie pinko liberal you.

    peteb, you may be aware that there has been a reaction since then from Trimble. Trimble is one of the main reasons outside of the IRA why we don’t have a deal today.

    GWB has the political intelligence of a slightly overdone kipper, and I’m inclined to think that any position he takes is most likely to be at the behest of requests by the British and (less so) Irish governments. Still, it’ll be hard to criticize him for going ahead with this snub. The only people complaining will be the over-salaried unproducing politicians who have done absolutely nothing deserving of the ear of the US President.

  • peteb

    “may be aware”, Roger? yeah.. I may be aware of it.

    as for the rest of your analysis.. well, what can anyone say to such insightfulness?…

  • mogo

    its a photo op for GWB, the Kennedys and Taoiseach to Irish America the rest is BS and will never live up to the year a certain chap from North Belfast wore his Crusaders tie to the event..priceless. If all paties are banned its suits the shinners and is probably because the white house doesn’t want to be associated with another failure

  • James

    RWC17:
    “You old commie pinko liberal you.”

    Smile when you use the “L” word, podna.

    Mr. Remington gave me 870 reasons why this redneck ain’t no liberal.

    Regards to your brother.

    mogo”

    “because the white house doesn’t want to be associated with another failure”

    You nailed it.

    Don’t ever make Bush look like a schmuck. And they did.