An appreciation of Irish restraint…

In which Eamon McCann almost admires Ian Paisley’s visible restraint in the celebration of Ireland’s patron saint. It’s a restraint he clearly believes other Irish politicians could learn from:

The BBC reported Congressman Peter King dismissing suggestions that Bush had intended a remark about Gerry Adams “keeping bad company” as admonishment. Not at all, scoffed the fervent supporter of the occupation of Iraq and Sinn Fein, the jovial Dubya had merely been engaging in light-hearted banter – teasing Adams about arriving at the White House with King, the sort of amiable repartee which revealed the two men as friends, chums, at ease with one another.

Standing alongside, the Sinn Fein chief was clearly chuffed at confirmation that George W still saw him as a good buddy. The SF party will have been especially relieved a day after the unfortunate spat with Bush’s point-man on Ireland, Mitchel Reiss, which had provoked the Sinn Fein leader into plaintive recall of the days when a previous US President had taken time off from bombing an Arab country to hail him as an “indispensable” friend.

In fairness to the Shinners, they may feel under compulsion to compete with their political rivals, all of whom appear to have entered an annual Irish nationalist race to the bottom. The winner this year was surely Martin Cullen of the Progressive Democrats, Minister for Transport in the South/Free State/26-county area (call it what you will, we try to insult nobody in this column), who, at a wreath-laying ceremony in New York on March 16, welcomed US troops back from occupation duties in Iraq, assuring them that Ireland was “especially proud” of what they’d been up to.