Category: Archive

Inside File Cheney to pave the way?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The next White House foray onto Irish soil following Bill Clinton’s upcoming last hurrah could well come in the form of a visit by Dick Cheney — assuming he ends up with the vice president’s the job.

According to a well-placed source, Cheney — George W. Bush’s "point man on everything," according to the New York Post — is likely to break ground for his boss on an issue that will stand out large in the Clinton foreign policy legacy.

Cheney’s name doesn’t exactly leap to the Irish American mind when it comes to Northern Ireland. Still, there is now a peace process to be preserved and Cheney is smart enough to know that Dubya needs as many positives as possible, given the political divisions in Washington.

As for Dubya? If Cheney’s thinking on Ireland isn’t exactly glaringly obvious, neither is Dubya’s. His campaign statements were not penned by the man himself, although there is nothing to suggest yet that he won’t stick by the pledges made on his behalf. Not too many Irish officials or politicians have chewed the cud with Dubya to date.

Ambassador Sean O’Huiginn is one and another is Martin Cullen, minister of State at the Department of Finance, who was in New York last week presiding over the dedication of the "Arrival" sculpture at the United Nations.

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Cullen was in San Antonio a couple of years ago for St. Patrick’s Day. He made a side trip to Austin where he sat down with Bush for the better part of an hour. Cullen came away with two impressions. One was that Bush wasn’t exactly up to speed on Northern Ireland, but the other was that he seemed to have the political acumen to apply himself to the issue if it came his way. If he is the 43rd president, it’s going to come his way. Bet the ranch on it!

Biden his time?

For a presidential election junkie, four years is an eternity. But the gap can be filled in to a degree by names. One name already cropping up as a possible Democratic contender in 2004 is that of Sen. Joe Biden.

As Conor O’Clery recorded in his book "Daring Diplomacy," the Delaware senator can stick the boot in when Ireland is concerned. When Admiral William Crowe was being questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Britain, Biden suggested to Crowe that he spend some time in Northern Ireland and become familiar with the political landscape there. The outgoing U.S. ambassador, Raymond Seitz, had made one trip to the wee North and had contented himself with flying above it in a British Army helicopter, far above the clutches of the unruly natives. Biden remembered this as he quizzed Crowe. "And by visiting Ireland I don’t mean a quick helicopter ride," he told the ambassador designate.


The mayor of Galway, Martin Quinn, was in New York last week seeking inspiration from the NYPD on how to cure the growing plague of vandalism and knife attacks afflicting the heart of his city. Eyre Square in particular has become a risky place to take a stroll at night and the forces of law and order in the City of Tribes is having a hard time keeping a lid on the activities of one particular tribe of youthful ruffians.

One possible idea might be a Galway version of New York’s Guardian Angels — Galway Angels, perhaps — but Quinn is particularly wary of anything that smacks of a vigilante approach to the problem. So for now it’s up to the actual GYPD Blue, the Garda Siochana, who must feel like they are battling a crime wave in some huge American city. The same fellas were given quite a ribbing a few years back when they moved into a new barracks on Mill Street. "Mill Street Blues" became something of a local joke. What’s going on in Eyre Square is anything but.

SDLP Green

There must be an election coming. The usual distant murmur that is the SDLP has turned into a loud grinding noise as the Echo fax machine battles away dealing with a sudden rash of messages from the party of John Hume and Seamus Mallon.

There has been a rush of communication in recent days dealing with the doings and sayings of SDLP bigs ranging from Hume to party members of the Stormont Assembly. This is a good thing, of course, but consistency is vital — after a two-day torrent, the party of most Northern nationalists has become the S for Silent DLP once again.

Fast Times

It’s moving time again at the Irish Times. Joe and Kathy Carroll are packing their Gucci bags as Joe’s stint as Washington correspondent enters the final few days. "IF" can only assume that the transition involving the departure of Carroll and the arrival of his replacement, Patrick Smyth, will run a little more smoothly than the presidential version.

With all this going on in D.C., the Times will be pumping out even more copy from New York come January, when the aforementioned Conor O’Clery is setting up an office that will cover the kind of global issues that the auld biddy of D’Olier Street feels its readers should know about every morning over their cups of latté.

In addition to Smyth and O’Clery, the Times is also drawing on the scribbling talents of Elaine Lafferty, who is bestriding the continent on behalf of the recently launched IT Saturday magazine.

"IF" would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Joe Carroll on a job well done and to wish both he and Kathy all the best for the future.

Adios, Amigos

And speaking of all the bests. "IF" would also like to use up a few lines in bidding farewell to comrades-in-keyboards Harry Keaney and Patrick Markey. Having observed both in action over the years, "IF" can confidently say that the people of Sligo — Harry’s taking up a post with the Sligo Champion – and the planet in general — Pat is moving to the Reuters news agency — are poised to benefit mightily from the skills and dedication of two journalists who played a central role in steering the Irish Echo through the changing times of the 1990s and into this spanking new century. Both will be missed and neither will be forgotten.

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