Category: Archive

Inside File By George, it’s . . .

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Quick, dust off those campaign pledges on Ireland by George W. Bush. Was there something about all the Northern parties getting invited to the ranch for barbecue? Peace meal to peace deal? Or was it all the parties in the North lay on the beef and Dubya will supply the cook in the form of an envoy? Something like that.

Anyway, it’s unlikely that Bush will be allowed much of a honeymoon on Ireland, there being so much at, well, stake, right now. Bill Clinton took a couple of years to warm up to his campaign pledges, but that sort of dilly-dallying won’t cut the mustard anymore.

Perhaps Dubya should appoint Bubba as his Irish envoy. That would keep Clinton busy on an issue he has made his own and would allow Bush to claim that he really is reaching out to the Democrats to make them happy and y’all. It would also get him off the hook in dealing with a situation in a far off land he would probably have difficulty finding on the map if we are to believe the likes of the London Daily Mirror and its "P.S. We Are Here" headline taking aim at Dubya’s known geographic shortcomings. We’ll have to wait and see.

Barker’s bite

Jim Barker was fulsome in his praise of NBC for its coverage of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade last week as he steered everyone through the ceremony announcing the 2001 grand marshal.

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WNBC, the network’s Big Apple affiliate, had done more for the parade in three or four years than that other network — he said he couldn’t remember the name — had done in 30 or 40. Had he bothered to look down he would have noticed three microphones with media tags on the podium from which he was directing events. Only three mind you. One of them was belonging to that now forgotten and suddenly maligned station, Channel 11.

There’s no reward for loyalty. Jack McCarthy was turning in his grave as Barker bit, of that you can be sure.

That Irish gent

Sean Crean wasn’t in the bidding for that $1.4 million James Joyce treasure trove at Christie’s last week, but the Roscommon man is not without his share of literary and historical treasures. And "IF" can confirm that it was indeed Crean who offered a number of his treasures at the recent "Irish Sale" at the Swann Galleries in Manhattan.

The gallery listed the 400 or so lots that went under the hammer that day as being simply "From The Collection of an Irish Gentleman." One of the lots for sale was a work by Joyce. It was a signed copy of "Finnegans Wake" that fetched $5,800.

Crean is both a collector in his own right and a dealer of historical Irish art, literary works and all manner of Celtic collectibles. Working out of his Celtic Arts Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, Crean is well plugged into the auction world back in Ireland and does much of his buying over the phone.

According to Crean, the value of Irish art is "going through the roof right now."


Bertie’s moving on the Sinn Féin money. "IF" is wondering if the root of all this concern over political fund-raising has anything to do with concerns in a number of Dáil constituencies where Fianna Fáil TDs have been aghast at the sight of Shinners running all over the place setting up operations with seemingly unlimited cash. That’s the perception anyway. So, of course, Bertie is going to hear about it, especially with an election not exactly a million years in the future.

Perhaps the Shinners should be a little more subtle about how they go about things, but then again, who ever expects politics Irish style to be subtle. Certainly not Fianna Fáil, a party that knows how to get down in the mud and fight tooth and nail for every vote, nickel and dime.

Time ethic

The argument certainly exists as to whether David Trimble is a man for his times, but there’s no doubt that he is a man concerned about time. It was noticed that Trimble got up and left the stage from where Bill Clinton was giving a big speech in the wee North last week. Seems that Trimble was rushing to catch a flight to Italy after having to wait and wait for Clinton — who is always behind schedule — to turn up and deliver his bon mots.

"IF" has the greatest sympathy for the Unionist leader and first minister. He doesn’t have an Air Force One to wait on the runway forever and a day as he presses the flesh with the natives. At the same time, it hasn’t always been a commercial flight that won’t wait that has made Trimble stick to his schedule like glue.

Trimble got up and walked out on George Mitchell in Washington a while back as Mitchell was extolling the virtues of peace and reconciliation in Trimble’s homeland. On that occasion, there was no flight waiting. It was a restaurant reservation for Trimble and his wife. You can eat a peach but not a speech.

Go(re) on outta that

The Echo hit the streets last Wednesday just as the country was waking up to the fact that George W. Bush was going to be the next president. The more observant readers might have noticed that the Echo itself was just the ticket on the day. Slight spelling differences apart, the Echo was looking awfully like the newly minted administration.

On page two, readers could cast their eyes over stories by a guy named Bushe — as in Andrew — while on page one, the photo of Bill Clinton and Bertie Ahern was snapped by a photographer named Chaney – as in Gareth.

They Said

€ "Whatever history says of William Jefferson Clinton, let it be said he did the right and difficult thing by Ireland." Author Thomas Lynch in the New York Times.

€ "In the United States, the most virulent of Clinton’s detractors are white supremacist, hate mongers. Here, in Ireland, they’re just pipsqueak pundits." Retired U.S. diplomat George Dempsey in the Sunday Independent.

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