“let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important in that respect”

Former Irish Minister for Justice and Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell’s call for the 12th July to be an Irish national holiday makes a cheap, and easy, headline for the RTÉ report.  And there may be video from the MacGill Summer School where he made the call.

But the RTÉ report also hints at what else he had to say

Mr McDowell said that if we were genuine republicans and if the orange panel in the flag meant anything, then we had to consider building an inclusive society.

He was speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal

The former Justice Minister said that the stakes are high.

He asked if the Good Friday Agreement was a sticking plaster over an open and infected wound or a stage on the path of genuine reconciliation.

Current Taoiseach Brian Cowen, picking up from where Bertie Ahern left off, has also addressed similar territory before

Setting out his vision of economic co-operation between the two parts of Ireland in the era of the Belfast and St Andrews agreements, he said: “We would be working the agreements we have, recognising the legitimacy of our respective traditions – one loyal to Britain, the other looking to Irish unity as a legitimate objective, but one that will only be pursued peacefully by common consent.

“Therefore there would be no threatening, exclusivist political philosophy which would make people defensive or insular or non co-operative.

“The genius of all of these agreements is that we are all on a common journey together where we have not decided on the destination. The problem with our ideologies in the past was that we had this idea about where we were going but we had no idea how anyone was going to come with us on the journey.

“We have now all decided: let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important in that respect. We can all work for what it is we would like ideally to see, but this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island,” the Taoiseach said. [added emphasis]

Adds  From a BBC report

On Thursday, Mr McDowell told the BBC that he was using the terms in a broad sense.

“I was pointing out that in the Republic in particular, there is a failure to address the significance of the orange panel of the Irish tricolour, as in the part of Irishness which is not Gaelic or Catholic.

“I was pointing out that there were many many things the establishment in the Republic could do to show all Irish people, North and south that the Orange tradition in that broad sense was truly appreciated.

“It’s not a sweetener, it’s a matter of friendship, of simply saying we acknowledge the Battle of the Boyne was an event to which the Orange traditional attributes major historical significance.

“The civil and political liberties which were at the forefront of their mind at that time are values that we hold.”