“Ireland has allowed those who claim to speak for Irish America to lead it up the garden path.”

Niall Stanage kindly dropped by our comments zone last week [comment 14], and in today’s Irish Times he expands on what he had to say there about the delusions which encouraged our local media to follow the mis-direction over the US Secretary of State and the political envoy post. From the Irish Times.

The flurry of speculation about Clinton’s possible new title was set off by an unsourced article on an expatriate website. It was then picked up and propagated by large swathes of the Irish media. Their credulity did the public no favours.

The Clinton saga also illuminates larger truths, however: about the sheer wrong-headedness of so many prevalent perceptions of Irish America, and about our national delusions of grandeur regarding where Ireland ranks on the American political agenda.

That expatriate website seems unable to admit what happened. But go read the whole thing. Adds The US administration’s influence here, in particular that of Mitchell Reiss, has been documented before. Although the intended destination may have differed from the actual outcome. Of course, any such thinking is “in the land of the cuckoo..”

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  • John O’Connell

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

    Do Americans ever think of anybody else but themselves?

  • Ray

    “Do Americans ever think of anybody else but themselves?”

    John,
    Perhaps the more accurate comment should be:

    Do Northern Irelanders think of anybody else but ourselves and our self-appointed supreme importance in the universe?

    And yes, given Mr. Adams recent trip to Palestine informally on behalf of the US Secretary of State and Mr. McGuinness’ trips to Irag, Sri Lanka, Spain, and other places on behalf of the US, there is probably merit to your point.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    Can we try to keep to the actual topic.

  • John O’Connell

    And yes, given Mr. Adams recent trip to Palestine informally on behalf of the US Secretary of State and Mr. McGuinness’ trips to Irag, Sri Lanka, Spain, and other places on behalf of the US, there is probably merit to your point.

    Thanks Ray.

    [The ball? – edited moderator]

  • Dave

    It’s a myth to think that Irish people care about what Americans or any foreigners think of them. In fact, the only people who show any concern for what a bunch of foreigners think of the Irish are europhile media like the Irish Times who are utterly obsessed with being approved by other europhiles and hysterical at the prospect of losing “our influence” in the EU (as if having 0.8% of the voting rights in the EU parliament post-Lisbon can be considered to be at “the heart of Europe” rather than on the sub 1% margins of it).

    Given the source of the story, it is promoted as a vanity promote to prop up the ‘importance’ of Niall O’Dowd and to prop up Gerry & The Peacemakers world tour by promoting a false believe that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland can be altered post-GFA by anybody other than the unionists. The hidden subtext is that if unionists don’t support reunification (and they never will) then he option of imposing it on them outside of the now legitimised Unionist Veto still remains.

  • @Ray – this is not just about NI. The Southern political establishment is if anything even more in thrall to the notion that Ireland has an inside track in Washington. Ministers are especially unwilling to believe it, as otherwise the annual Paddys Day assault on the climate through ministerial air travel becomes even more untenable.

  • Dave

    “The unfounded faith in Irish-American political influence – and the things that flow from it, like the quixotic suggestion that the Irish Government should seek a bilateral deal with the US to help illegal Irish immigrants – only serves to distract from the real work that needs to be done to preserve a meaningful transatlantic relationship.

    The goal of the Irish Government and State agencies with regard to the US should be very simple: to boost Ireland’s economic and cultural fortunes.

    Irish businesses in innumerable areas, from tech to the emerging green economy, are ripe for American investment.”

    Actually, economic investment in Ireland by Americans companies and in America by Irish companies has always a primary consideration for the Irish government. Special pleading over the status of illegal immigrants, etc, or normal diplomatic relations between two states that exclude economic matters are not to be regarded as alternatives to economic matters as Niall Stanage implies, with policy about Northern Ireland, etc, to be discarded by the Irish government in favour of a bizarrely narrow focus on “economic and cultural fortunes.”

    As the late Minister Séamus Brennan said in 2006: “These US companies directly employ over 90,000 people, or 70% of the total numbers employed by multinationals in Ireland. Most people are aware in one way or another of the size and importance of US investment in Ireland. On the other hand, I doubt if that many are aware of the exciting and dramatic changes that are taking place in Irish investment in the US. Over the last seven years Irish companies have increased their presence in the US market fivefold. A study just completed by Enterprise Ireland reveals that more than 55,000 people are now employed by these Irish entities in the US. This reflects the deepening economic and commercial ties between the two countries, and also recognition by Irish companies that as a key innovator, consumer and industry leader, the US market represents a challenge for any enterprise wishing to establish a more global presence.”

    As the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland states: “Over 300 Irish companies directly employ an estimated 52,000 in 35 States across the USA.”

    Niall Stanage chooses to focus solely on American investment in Ireland, ignoring the considerable Irish investment in America and its potential to expansion and repatriation of profits to Ireland. Rather than promoting inward investment in Ireland which is rendered wasteful under EU laws which require that national taxpayers pay to create jobs but which allows those jobs to be taken by non-nationals from the EU, and wherein profits are repatriated to the US, Irish focus in the US should be on identifying markets for Irish-owned exporters and for investment opportunities for Irish-owned companies.

  • steve white

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • steve white

    1 comment from him and you won’t take any criticism of him, i think your over stating the importance of irish American commentators

  • David

    The idea that Hilary Clinton was going to step down from being Secretary of State to become Ireland envoy is clearly cloud cuckoo land. It would be a bit like standing down as Director of the Company to get a job as the car park attendant.

  • steve white

    it wasn’t that she’d stand down but take on that jobs aswell

    but the point is she already had it as secretary of state

  • fin

    I’ve obviously missed something, both stories appear fairly similar, except that Stanage includes a bit of racial sterotyping in his article.

    Perhaps Stanage will visit slugger again with his insights on the Califonian Democrats action. A major economy, with big problems, yet a strong interest in Ireland…Niall, Niall, NIALL

    Nope he’s gone

  • Dave

    “Perhaps Stanage will visit slugger again with his insights on the Califonian Democrats action. A major economy, with big problems, yet a strong interest in Ireland…Niall, Niall, NIALL”

    Sure, but while you’re waiting for a state in the US to become an independent country and form its own department of foreign affairs which will supposedly be powerful enough to put pressure on the two governments to force NI into a united Ireland without the consent of the people in either sovereign jurisdiction as is now legally required as a fundamental condition, why don’t you explain how a local branch of a political party in an American state can progress the constitutional issue? It can’t, and Gerry & The Peacemakers is well aware of that but nonetheless needs to be seen to be doing something to show the Shinner muppets that they are well on their way to a united Ireland even if unionists (who now hold all the cards) take a different view. The level of pure farce in this reaches a zenith with Niall O’Dowd proclaiming the US SoS to be the new envoy to NI and that this shows that the US still thinks NI important when the lack of an envoy shows where you really rank in world affairs as a wholly legitimate part of the united Kingdom. 🙂

  • @Fin. Er, I’m not gone actually, I’m still here.

    You inadvertently make my own point. From a whimsical resolution on the part of the California Democratic Party you adduce that the entire state has “a strong interest in Ireland.”

    First, the most recent actual published platform of the CA Dems is, naturally enough, from 2008. You can read it as a PDF here.

    I have searched for any mention of Ireland in that document, without success. (If my eye is faulty, let me know.) And, if there was the strong statewide interest in Ireland that you claim, it seems rather odd that the Dems would see the light regarding the desirability of a United Ireland not in, say, 1969, 79, or 89, when such a goal was more central to the debate/conflict in Ireland, but in 2009.

    If you need further confirmation of the de facto irrelevance of the resolution, you might have a look here, where you will see a list of resolutions undertaken at the same meeting as the United Ireland one.

    You will note they include:

    “Support Local Control of Mobile Home Park Rent and Vacancy Ordinances”

    and

    “Support California Gray Whale Study And Protection.”

    You claim that the United Ireland res. proves that CA, as a whole, is

    “A major economy, with big problems, yet a strong interest in Ireland…”

    I presume, by your own logic, you would also then believe that CA is “a major economy, with big problems, yet a strong interest in mobile home park rent.”

    Furthermore, the idea that the resolution bespeaks a statewide popular interest in Ireland, or that a United Ireland is in some way a pressing political issue in CA is absurd. Proof of non-interest is, by its nature, difficult to come by, but I have just searched the archives of the state’s biggest newspaper, the LA Times for the terms ‘Ireland’ or ‘Irish’ and it seems to me that the resolution did not merit a single mention, either in the print edition or on the paper’s blogs:

    Search 1.

    Search 2.

    Again, if I am wrong about any of this, let me know — I’ve undertaken these searches pretty quickly in response to your point, and I have not double-checked as rigorously as I would for a published article.

    I am not trying to be rude to you, but merely pointing out that the play given to this resolution by the NI media has granted it a prominence/seriousness that it does not deserve. And, furthermore, it gives people in Ireland an erroneous sense(such as you, IMHO, are suffering from) of the priority accorded to Irish issues in the US.

    @steve white I didn’t drop in on Slugger in time to see the comment of yours that was deleted but I presume that in the later one

    “1 comment from him and you won’t take any criticism of him”

    … the ‘him’ is me.

    I think it’s fair enough for the operators of any website to be concerned about a) defamation and b) personal abuse sidetracking any substantive discussion of the issues raised.

    However, if you feel an absolutely uncontrollable urge to have a go at me personally, feel free to email me: niallstan@hotmail.com

    Thanks guys,

    Niall

  • steve white

    the substantive discussion is ‘professional irish americans’ self publicist

  • @steve white: Eh? You did read the article by me in the Irish Times that sparked this off, right? I’m not entirely clear what your last comment means, but my I Times article was in large part intended as a forceful criticism of, to borrow your phrase, “professional Irish Americans”. Perhaps you are getting me confused with someone else.

  • steve white

    you said yourself that you were guilty of exaggerating the importance of irish america at times when you reported in the video from a previous post, which is why i find it strange that when i say it, its removed.

    the substantive discussions is fanboy journalists battling each other by trying to claim they have particular insight into world figures, while those they’ve attached themselves to ignore them

  • @steve white It was presumably deleted because I didn’t say that.

    What I said (3’23 – 4’10 on the video) was:

    “The ‘Irish-American vote’ is something that I personally am very sceptical of. I tend to think that people in our profession, Noel [Thompson], sometimes exaggerate the importance of that when we’re talking to Irish audiences. The Irish lobby so much as it exists here…is very small in number and doesn’t really have that many votes behind it.”

    It’s pretty obvious when the context is given that I was trying, perhaps too diplomatically for my own good, to criticise the media coverage of this issue generally. The ‘we’ clearly refers to ‘people in our profession’; it is not the personal admission that you are presenting it to be.

    Have a good weekend!

    N

  • Of course Californians are interested in Ireland. Two jurisdictions economically up excrement creek without a rowing implement.

  • Pete Baker

    Niall

    Thanks for dropping by again.

    fin

    “I’ve obviously missed something, both stories appear fairly similar..”

    That would be because we both start with the original mis-direction.

    But if you took the trouble to read further you’d see that we focused on different aspects of that mis-direction and, in Niall’s article, why it worked.

    There’s also an element of churnalism involved in the propagation of that mis-direction, imho.

  • borferline

    Niall Stanage is correct in his observations IMO. The other Niall, O’Dowd, has played a significant part in the PP and deserves credit for making the most of his hand.
    But that day has gone, and in the numbers game we’re losing, and shortly to be doomed.
    NOD treads a well-worn path of exiles doing all they can to bridge gaps, broker influence and generally build a movement around their own life choices.

    Niall O’Dowd – Niall Stanage is correct. Emigrants integrate very fast these days. Southy is heading the way of Hell’s Kitchen. The show is over, head home.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Niall Stanage is correct in his observations IMO. The other Niall, O’Dowd, has played a significant part in the PP and deserves credit for making the most of his hand.

    Niall O’Dowd played a significant part in the peace process ? That’s definitely a new one on me. What did he do ?

    And, furthermore, it gives people in Ireland an erroneous sense(such as you, IMHO, are suffering from) of the priority accorded to Irish issues in the US.

    In fairness, we do get a whole day to ourselves in the White House on 17th March.

    Although I think Ireland must be the only Western country where the head of state and government both spend the principal national holiday in a foreign country. It’s almost as if they are helping to market an exported “Irishness” brand.

  • “Ireland must be the only Western country where the head of state and government both spend the principal national holiday in a foreign country.”

    If the Prime Minister of Canada even spent Canada Day in London with the nominal head of State it would probably cause a scandal – if he spent it in Washington it would probably be the last thing he did.

  • Comrade Stalin ” …Niall O’Dowd played a significant part in the peace process ? That’s definitely a new one on me. What did he do ?”

    You’ve got to be kidding me!?!? O’Dowd forcing Clinton to commit to a Spec Envoy during his election. O’Dowd, Bill Flynn, Chuck Feeney & co coming to Ireland with resulting unofficial ceasefire. Irish American pressure on White House to continue promoting Peace Process with an unenthusiatic Westminster. Clinton’s visits to NI. Bill Flynn & Chuck Feeney’s economic and social investments in NI.

    “…In fairness, we do get a whole day to ourselves in the White House on 17th March.”

    If you see the relationship as that simple then that’s all you will get from it.

    borferline “…Niall O’Dowd – Niall Stanage is correct. Emigrants integrate very fast these days. Southy is heading the way of Hell’s Kitchen. The show is over, head home. ”

    and you know this from living where for how long ?

  • Mark Dowling “If the Prime Minister of Canada even spent Canada Day in London with the nominal head of State it would probably cause a scandal – if he spent it in Washington it would probably be the last thing he did.”

    hence we’re on the site sub titled “Notes on Northern Ireland politics and culture” and not a similar Canadian version.

  • @tuppence – interesting that you appear fascinated with the Irish-US “relationship” with no interest on how feudal it appears to the world at large. In any case, irrespective of what has been done before, we have to look at the facts as they stand and the facts are that the US has multiple foreign policy clusterfewks underway and the Irish are well down their priority list. Thankfully, Mrs Clinton and her boss seem to get that.

  • Brian MacAodh

    I live in America now. In fact, I work less then half a mile from the Capital building.

    In my experience, Ireland is rarely in the news or various shows on politics. I don’t think it comes up anymore than a country of equal size anywhere else.

    As for the Irish American vote, it is virtually non existant. 30 years ago in several states it was still a formidable group to pander to, but those days are long gone.

    The amount of people who claim to have Irish blood is incredible. I have never heard anyone say they have “North Irish” blood, or “Scots-Irish” blood. I have heard “Irish, but not Irish Catholic”

  • 6countyprod

    For posterity, an example of America’s most senior diplomat/foreign envoy in action.

  • Mark Scowling:
    “…you appear fascinated with the Irish-US “relationship” with no interest on how feudal it appears to the world at large.”

    and you speak for the world at large? I didn’t think so thus lessening the validity of your post to the mere level of my own. My opinions are my own… it’s a free country, isn’t it?

    “…fascinated..”?

    Based on two short posting in this thread which is a first of its kind in a while – wise up wouldya.

    “…In any case, irrespective of what has been done before, we have to look at the facts as they stand and the facts are that the US has multiple foreign policy clusterfewks underway and the Irish are well down their priority list. Thankfully, Mrs Clinton and her boss seem to get that.”

    More benefit has come from the US/Bill Clinton involvement in NI Peace process than from any other third party. BClinton was able to leverage of this positive work for his second election and Hillary also included it in her close shot as Democratic candidate. The good work done doesn’t have to appear as a positive to Irish American ONLY but to all US voters.

    As a hypothetical corrollary should Obama expedite a Peace Process in Korea will he only get credit from Korean Americans in the next election? BClinton involved US troops in Bosnia, was he pandering to the Bosnia-Amer vote?

    Brian MacAodh:
    “…In my experience, Ireland is rarely in the news or various shows on politics. I don’t think it comes up anymore than a country of equal size anywhere else. ”

    Ah but when it does… it really does. The last time I remember hearing about NI on the front pages of every newspaper in USA was when the three Quinn boys were burnt to death in protest/support of Orangemen marching thro nationalist areas of the tourist hotspot that is Portadown.

  • Tuppence, I’ll leave your mangling of my name where it lies, it shows your level of cop-on.

    As for the Bill Clinton administration and its involvement, the youtube clip above makes it very clear Hilary Rodham is if anything dying to separate herself from her husband’s legacy.

  • Brian MacAodh

    She could always divorce him

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve added this to the original post.

    The US administration’s influence here, in particular that of Mitchell Reiss, has been documented before. Although the intended destination may have differed from the actual outcome.

    Of course, any such thinking is “in the land of the cuckoo..”

  • my handle on this site is MyTuppenceWorth and you have addressed me since the first page as tuppence. You now have the nerve to post…”I’ll leave your mangling of my name where it lies, it shows your level of cop-on.”

    I think you’ve highlighted your lack of cop-on…

    …sauce, goose, gander

    ..pot – kettle to the Nth degree

    or typical hypocritical behaviour from those who don’t like the taste of their own medicine

    …take your pick.

    Any danger of a comment about the subject of the thread…doesn’t have to appear as a positive to Irish American ONLY but to all US voters. …should Obama…only get credit from Korean Americans? BClinton … pandering to the Bosnia-Amer vote?

  • Pete Baker

    Interesting comment from Tina Brown on Newsnight on an un-related matter –

    “Obama has really put [Hillary Clinton] in a box in the State Department”

  • Mandy Rice Davis

    I was watching a documentary on Joe Rednar, lap dance king of Tampa, Florida. Some local Tampa political nobody spoke. A big Gerry Adams poster behind him. IOs Adams into lap dancing now? What is Sinn Fein’s position on lap dancing?