By Ray O’Hanlon
The wire services come in for a bit of stick from time to time over their Northern Ireland coverage. True, condensing the bile of centuries into a few paragraphs does present problems, even though the problems are compounded by excessive reliance on overly long words such as "Londonderry." Still, the news must flow and the likes of Reuters and AP are on the job every day bringing us the truth in the news.
Reuters currently has as an ad depicting two sprinters, one attempting to pass the baton to the other, but without success. The message is that getting things only partly right isn’t getting it right at all. Reuters, clearly, gets it right. So it’s worth referring to a few lines from a recent Reuters report: "Security forces maintained a strong presence to try to avert trouble as supporters of the secretive, exclusively Protestant Orange Order turned out to mark the defeat of the Catholic Army of King James II by the Protestant forces of William of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The battle ushered in the Protestant ascendancy over Catholics in Ireland, which has been at the root of the sectarian unrest in British-administered Northern Ireland." So there you have it.
Slings and arrows
Some of the big names in New York, nay, American penpersonship gathered around Congressman Pete King at Glucksman Ireland House last week during a reception, hosted by movie director Terry George, to mark the publication of King’s novel, "Terrible Beauty."
King’s life has hit the gas lately with the book, his day job as congressman and the speculation that he might run for the U.S. Senate. King is indeed making hay fast. He was interviewed last week on National Public Radio; Mary McGrory of the Washington Post recently wrote a column that was mildly critical, mostly neutral and partly positive, while The New York Times ran a piece by Francis X. Clines last Sunday that had King "happily flogging a book and a possible candidacy for Senate."
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Oh political joy! Every book signing a campaign stop, every campaign stop a book signing. Not that all the coverage has been flattering, of course. The Times and Sunday Times across the pond have been having a go. In one ST news report earlier this year, "Terrible Beauty" was described as being "more like propaganda than entertainment." The ST is intimately familiar with both, of course.
A more recent report in the Times had "An American congressman allied with Sinn Fein (you can’t start much lower than that in Wapping) has published a novel purporting to describe Britain’s ‘oppression’ of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland." The report concluded by pointing to an unfavorable review of "Terrible Beauty" in Publishers Weekly which would likely ensure that King’s novel would fall shy of the bestseller lists. Presumably, this managed to reassure plucky Times readers that the realm is safe from this particular King for the time being.
Big John Daly arrives in Ireland this week to play in the Murphy’s Irish Open golf tournament. Daly’s battle with booze and gambling have been well documented. He is up to his neck in alimony payments and, to make matters worse, has been playing lousy golf lately. Daly says that while he has been dry for more than two years, his urge to drink is stronger than ever because of his money woes. All things considered, then, the ad running in Irish papers highlighting the Open was, to say the least, in dubious taste. It featured Daly swinging a club with the words "One Great Round Deserves Another." Hopefully, this will come true, over 18 holes, not 19.
Big, hic, Apple
And speaking of booze. Duty-free privileges end this week for Irish travelers leaving the auld sodden for destinations within the EU. But transAtlantic passengers can still avail of the cheaper prices for booze and tobacco. Both duty free and full prices will now be displayed on bottles at Dublin and Shannon airports. U.S.-bound passengers will be able to see how much they are saving over their EU-bound counterparts, who, presumably, will be crying into their beer.
O Stormont Mio
Luciano Pavarotti is to sing at Stormont Castle in Belfast this September, according to reports. Seems that the great tenor didn’t so much break his voice as get his first big career break after a performance in the city by the Lagan 36 years ago.
"IF" wonders why he hasn’t included "My Lagan Love" with all those fancy Italian and Latin numbers down the years.
Anyway, there now exists the albeit highly remote possibility that Luciano, hanky firmly in fist, will leap atop the pedestal of the William Carson statue in the grounds of Stormont and burst into "Ave Maria." Either way, this will be the first time in years that there will be someone in the wee North with as much air in his lungs as the Rev. Ian Paisley.
No rabble rouser Hume
The late Cardinal Basil Hume, spiritual leader of Catholics in England and Wales, was less prone to "rabble rousing" than his Irish predecessor, according to an obituary in the New York Times.
Hume, who died from cancer, was portrayed in the obituary as a prelate who stood out from the rest of the British Catholic hierarchy.
"The modern Catholic Church’s influence was tainted," according to the obituary, because "many members of its hierarchy, like Cardinal Hume’s predecessor John Cardinal Heenan, were of Irish origin and prone to rabble rousing." Hume "changed all that," the obituary added.
The lengthy account of Hume’s life and work also stated that he was active in securing "the release of those wrongly accused of carrying out attacks for the Irish Republican Army."
The civilized English versus tempestuous Irish rabble view of the world has been around for a long time. Lord knows how the Times might react to a new "Irish" cardinal at Westminster Cathedral, or better still, an Irish pope. Then again, the College of Cardinals has always managed to avoid placing an Irishman on the Throne of Peter. Ireland, for all its allegiance to Rome over the centuries, doesn’t even have an active cardinal right now, thus leaving rabble rousing in the auld sod to mere bishops.