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.

  • M. Gibbs, Chicago

    Don’t take Martin Cullen as reporesentative of Southern Irish politicians in general. He is a Progressive Democrat. Of the tens of thousands of adjectives in the English language, “progressive” and “democratic” are almost the last two that would apply to that party. Just look at its other members: Oberstürmbahnführer McDowell, like the party founder Des O’Malley, Minister for Rough Justice and a clown of Berlusconi proportions. He recently taunted a member of the Green Party as a “muesli eater”. Now, what’s wrong with a healthy diet, to which muesli definitely belongs? McDowell and his party colleagues would do better to set an example and encourage healthy dietary habits. Indeed, one of them, the party leader Mary Horney, is the Minister for Health. See previous sentence. I used to be a bit of a Neocon, but the mess that Bush has made in Iraq has cured me of that and opened my eyes. Irish politicians should promote world peace by telling Bush, as a friend, that he has gone down the wrong road and ought to reverse his policies – also on the environment.

  • untermenschen

    “Irish politicians should promote world peace…”

    Ireland and its politicians have about as much relevance and clout in world affairs as the isle of man and its – ie none.

  • Ken A. Biss

    “Ireland and its politicians have about as much relevance and clout in world affairs as the isle of man and its – ie none,” writes untermenschen. Well, there’s clout and clout, hard and soft. Ireland must mean something to the occupant of the White House, who – Republican or Democrat – finds Ireland important enough to take some time off from screwing the world to celebrate the Irish national holiday and get some phot ops with Irish politicians and the occasional other Irish celebrity. Can anyone imagine the White House ever holding a party to celebrate the Twelfth of July?

  • M. Gibbs, Chicago

    Ha, ha. The day they let the Orangemen in, they can change the name of the place by replacing the “W” with an “S”.

  • Yokel

    Ireland has no clout in International Relations..end of story, Mr Biss please get a grip on reality, Bush or indeed any other president doesn’t give a fiddlers for any Irish comment on anything other than Irish affairs..end of story.

    Those who believe so, especially so called Irish Americans who seem to disregard democracy in the North, many I have found to know very little about Ireland North or South (hey its a modern country, shock) are kidding themselves of Ireland’s significance. Bottom line, no one in their right mind believes Ireland has any global power outside its own space. If there were no votes in it certain US politicians wouldn’t care less either…Not even the most fervant Irish republican on this board can believe anything Bertie Ahern says about Iraq is going to have any affect in Washington.

    What we see in Iraq is symptomatic of the US not just its government, desperately idealistic that somehow if a or b happens it’ll be alright and ignoring the facts. I really like the country and many aspects of its attitude, but as a whole Americans have no idea at any level how to conduct a counter insurgency and by and large total ignorance of politics beyond their own country. Messed up in Vietnam and they appear to be doing it in Iraq. Sad but true, they are fighting the wrong type of war.

  • SlugFest

    Sadly, i tend to agree with Yokel. I’m often shocked by how little my fellow Americans know about what’s going on in Iraq as well as other parts of the globe.

    and i also tend to find most ‘irish americans’ nauseatingly ignorant of the country they claim to have come from all those years ago. most don’t even know there is such a place as Northern Ireland — and i’m not just talking about kids in their 20s. I’ve attempted to initiate conversations with much older folks about NI and i’m met with looks of bewilderment in return. (‘oh, is that that catholic-protestant thing?)

    americans tend to be more xenophobic than ever –there is a laziness and gluttony to this country that shows itself in many aspects of society, not the least of which is the refusal to learn about world issues.

  • Shay Begorrah

    While not wanting to divert from Eamonn’s entirely valid argument about how distasteful the rush to be seen along side Dubya is Ireland is still dependant on American corporations setting up large operations in Ireland for our economic well being.

    This means that for the foreseeable future Irish politicians of whatever stripe have to pretend to get along with (and indeed respect) the clowns responsible for the illegal and catastrophic war in Iraq.

    When George and his trainers finally manage to run America into the ground financially (9 trillion dollar national debt anyone?) and the jobs go back to a newly impoverished America then we can stop pretending to like the far right right fools who run the US and instead return to an agrarian society and large scale unemployment. Wheeeee!

    Finally Yokel hats off to the new neocon meme that George just doesn’t understand how to fight the war in Iraq properly (if only he ws more ruthless with the towelheads, eh?) rather than that it was immoral, illegal and always likely to lead to disaster. We have always been at war with West Asia.

  • RmcC

    Eamonn McCann is right on form. I love his biting humour. He’ll insult all about him in no uncertain terms, then throw in this:

    “the South/Free State/26-county area (call it what you will, we try to insult nobody in this column)”

    …only to continue to insult all about him. LOL

  • Rory

    Eamonn’s witty all right and we can hardly blame him for using any old peg, however tenuous, on which to hang the hat of opportunity to attack Bush. It’s hard out there for a working pundit with a deadline to meet.

    But using the delightful Miss Daisy Duke was a wee bit weak and I suspect in private that he’d be a wee bit shame faced about the ploy. But, hey, what’s a working stiff to do?

    The invitation to participate in the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade comes from the NYC Irish-American steering committee of that parade and any refusal to take up that invitation would only be a snub to the Irish-American community of New York, and by extension, the wider Irish-American community.

    The invitation to the White House supper celebration is a separate matter and it would be more than churlish to refuse such an invitation from the head of state of any country in which one was a guest. The Soviet leaders after all dined with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace at the height of the cold war and merrily sipped champagne and munched on caviar blinis while the British SBS agent, Commander “Buster” Crabbe, was marmalised by Soviet agents guarding a Soviet vessel in Portsmouth harbour that frogman Buster was having a furtive shufty around. RIP, Buster.
    But it had no effect upon the giving and taking within the laws of hospitality. Nor should it have. It would be a poor political leader indeed who was seduced from his principles by the warm atmosphere of a convivial supper party.

  • Brian Boru

    “Don’t take Martin Cullen as reporesentative of Southern Irish politicians in general. He is a Progressive Democrat. ”

    An ex-Progressive Democrat. He is FF nowadays.

  • Greg

    Rory says: “The invitation to participate in the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade comes from the NYC Irish-American steering committee of that parade and any refusal to take up that invitation would only be a snub to the Irish-American community of New York, and by extension, the wider Irish-American community”. But surely the point is that, in the case of the lesbian and gay community, Irish-America is being bigoted and in opposition to what is supposed to be Sinn Féin’s commitment to equality. Adams and Co. could show some leadership to Irish America by pointing out to them that lesbians and gays get to march in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Cork, Dublin and even Belfast and that those of us who live in Ireland expect equal treatment for all – regardless of sexual orientation. It IS part of their precious Good Friday Agreement after all!

    I think fair play to McCann for pointing out that a celeb like Daisy Duke has more principles than Gerry Adams.

  • RmcC

    Heard recently on or around St Pat’s Day:

    “St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. They crossed the Atlantic and became Irish-Americans.” 🙂

  • Rory

    I accept that the NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade Committee’s refusal to allow a gay and lesbian contingent is wrong, discriminatory and wrong headed. I also am a firm opponent of the US government’s invasion of Iraq, which to my mind was an illegal act motivated by imperialist greed.
    It is not however for Irish guests to take up any such questions while guests of either party and to do so would only be an example of that infantile self-righteous posturing so beloved of the Trotskyite left.

    It is for progressive Irish in NYC, Irish gays and lebians in NYC and other NYC citizens to address the first matter and perhaps SF’s own progressive policy on equal sexual choice issues might help them in this regard, perhaps not.

    The second matter of US policy in the Middle East is unlikely to affected by the disapproval of Sinn Fein, or Eamonn McCann for that matter.

    I remember once a college SU in North London pompously sending of a telegram to Nixon and Kissinger demanding an end to the bombings in Cambodia solely in order that the SWP motivators of the action could later bask in the glow of their revolutionary zeal in the union bar. I went home and bought some chips instead.

  • Rory

    Oh, and on the “Daisy Duke” amtter. Jessica Simpson did not refuse an invitation to the White House. Nor has she expressed any opposition to US policy on Iraq, or any other US foreign policy issue, as her reason for asking that President Bush does not attend her charity event. It is simply that she wishes her organisation to be able to appeal across political affiliations and that the President’s attendance might be unimical to that strategy.

    For those opposed to Bush and the Republican Party now to attempt to drag Ms Simpson’s action into the cross-political arena is shabby in the extreme and attempts to imply motives to Ms Simpson’s actions that she has never espoused.

    I really find such tactics snide and shameful and do not consider that they are at all helpful in building real opposition to Bush and the neo-cons.
    They rather make the left appear like dirty little sneaks, prepared to use anything, however meretricious for their own ends. We must needs be better than that.