First of an occasional series from now until the presidential election, a round up:
– In the letters section of the Irish Times, from Brian Bourke in London:
It seems to me the candidacy of Martin McGuinness is polarising the nation. On the one side we have blind optimism that he may actually stand a chance of being elected. On the other there is blind fear that he might actually stand a chance of being elected.
– If this campaign is getting dirtier it just went up a gear just as David Norris was a hair’s breadth from getting back into the race…
– Sean Gallagher warns against getting drawn into a party political puppet show…
– George Byrne repeats Gay Byrne’s line that Martin and Gerry are ‘habitual and well-practised liars’…
So, the second in command of the IRA in Derry in 1972 wasn’t even indirectly involved in having anyone killed? Oh, and David Norris is straight.
– Liam Clarke articulates Mr McGuinness’ existential problem. If he admitted the truth, he’d be slung in jail..
– Vincent Browne, definitely not one of the ‘usual suspects’, lauds Martin McGuinness’ contribution to the peace process but says that his story regarding his role in the IRA just doesn’t stack up:
…his record as a leader of the IRA at a time when the most appalling atrocities were perpetrated and for which ^ as a leader, activist and apologist of the IRA ^ he bears a responsibility. According to the encyclopaedia of killings in Northern Ireland, Lost Lives, the IRA was responsible for 48.8 per cent of all deaths,1,771 out of a total of 3,636.
No other organisation was responsible for anything like that carnage (547 by the UVF, 408 by the UDA, 301 by the British army, 52 by the RUC, eight by theUDR). We do not know the extent to which McGuiness was involved in any of these atrocities, but some people do know and, as the years go by, some of these people are likely to tell their stories. If he is then president of Ireland, it won’t be edifying.
His SBP colleague Tom McGurk has a fascinating counter-take on the same phenomenon, arguing it says more about the complacent media culture of metro Dublin than Sinn Fein’s presidential candidate:
The majority of media commentators grew up during the Troubles, yet so many of them ‘born and bred here’ fail to understand the historical antecedents of McGuinness. Has a new generation consciously freed itself fromall that historical baggage? The media also reflect a new southern zeitgeist that the peace process was essentially about getting the Northern crisis off the backs of the 26 counties. Since peace broke out, the invisible chasm of partitionism has deepened. Now, like Banquo’s ghost, McGuinness is back to frighten the South out of its post-Celtic tiger, IMF-induced slumbers.[emphasis added]
– In the Sindo, Ronan Fanning holds Fianna Fail responsible for dropping the Republic’s ‘long handled spoon’:
Fianna Fail has a special responsibility in this election because it was the party’s pusillanimous refusal to field a candidate — Brian Crowley was the obvious choice — that created such an irresistible opportunity for Sinn Fein to run McGuinness. There is now a real danger that what much of remains of the hardcore Fianna Fail vote, still smarting from the humiliation of their catastrophic performance in the general election, will find the temptation to embarrass the Government by keeping Michael D Higgins and Gay Mitchell out of the Aras likewise irresistible and that they will desert in droves to McGuinness. Such lunatic behaviour would, of course, only improve the prospects of Sinn Fein becoming the main opposition party at the next election.
– And speaking of long handled spoons, here’s Shane Ross on why he backed David Norris, but plans to vote for Michael D Higgins…
– And last word to David Adams, who notes of those now lambasting McGuinness:
It’s a bit rich for those who lambasted unionists for complaining he wasn’t a suitable person to be deputy first minister to be dragging up his past now. Either we support the agreement, and its implications, or we don’t. There have been harder pills to swallow than McGuinness running for the Áras.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty