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Inside File Diplomacy, me . . . Where’s that dagger?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

A familiar face was absent during the recent U.S. visit by Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews. Former Irish ambassador to the U.S. and current top man at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Paddy MacKernan, was nowhere in sight. That could have been for altogether normal reasons or altogether abnormal ones. In this case, it was the latter.

Andrews and MacKernan, it seems, have not spoken for months. Indeed, there is a running feud between the two men in charge of Irish foreign policy in general and, together with Dermot Gallagher, Anglo-Irish affairs in particular. According to reports in the Irish Times and Sunday Tribune, the problem has several roots. One is the signing by MacKernan of a directive under the Irish Official Secrets Act. Andrews wasn’t around and MacKernan was acting under the instructions of the taoiseach. This did not impress Andrews, who reportedly took the view that MacKernan had exceeded his authority.

Another root is a row over Conor O’Riordan, former consul general in Boston. Andrews wanted O’Riordan to be his private secretary, as he was when Andrews served his first brief stint as minister in 1992. MacKernan thought that pastures new for O’Riordan was a better idea. Andrews won. And now it is all sullen silence between the two great mandarins.

"It is difficult to see how the two men . . . can ever work in harmony again, particularly in the light of media reports suggesting that Andrews sought to have MacKernan removed from his post," wrote Stephen Collins in the Sunday Tribune. Sounds what these guys need is . . . a peace process.

And so say all of us

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Gerry Adams is 50. Wow! So our Gerry came about in the year of the Belfast, er, sorry, Berlin Airlift, 1948. It was the year when people first heard of the Cold War. Idlewild, later Kennedy International Airport in New York, was dedicated by President Truman. It would later be Gerry’s first landing point on U.S. soil.

Gerry’s arrival on earth, as opposed to America, was none too late. 1948 was the year that Pernicious Anemia was conquered by Vitamin B-12. Close one! Popular songs that year included "Nature Boy" — that would be our Gerry all right; "You Call Everybody Darling" — an early title for the peace process; "Buttons and Bows" — Armani of course, and "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," a favorite no doubt of Irish Times cartoonist Martyn Turner, who always seems to pick out Gerry’s gnashers for special treatment.

Gerry’s actual birthday is Oct. 6. History buffs will recall that on this date in 1891 Charles Stewart Parnell, aged only 45, passed away in Brighton, a town to be visited by some of Gerry’s pals a few years later. Back in the wee sod, meanwhile, 1948 was a standout year not least because the External Relations Act was repealed and the Irish Republic, like Gerry, came bouncing into the world. The two have kept their distance since. Adams doesn’t fully recognize the Republic as it is currently constituted, while the wee Republic doesn’t fully consider Gerry’s Irish passport, Belfast domicile and command of the Irish language as being worthy of a vote in Southern elections. There’s another few years in all this. Maybe 50.

The truth is still out there

Dubliner Patrick Farrelly’s exploits on behalf of Michael "Roger And Me" Moore are beginning to extend beyond the call. Farrelly, who plays host to the forgotten and the damned in Rocky Sullivan’s on his quiet nights, nearly ended up in his own X-File during a recent film shoot in Washington D.C.

He had just returned from the West Coast and several efforts to film sequences at top-secret military bases and the headquarters of various corporations on the Pentagon’s Christmas card list. On Capitol Hill, Farrelly made for hearings before the House National Security Committee, which was taking testimony on Saddam Hussein’s latest efforts to hide his killer toys from the U.N. Farrelly was carrying a bag full of notes and photos from the West Coast foray, but he inadvertently left at the security check at the Capitol door.

The bag, naturally, aroused the curiosity of Capitol Police. Before you get say Mulder and Scully, Farrelly was nabbed by both the FBI and the cops. One fed thought all his birthdays had come at once and wanted to lock Farrelly up. Eventually, the interrogators figured out that Farrelly wasn’t an Iraqi agent after all. Worse, he was a bona fide journalist. They let him go, bag and all. Rocky Sullivan’s is nevertheless on full alert for customers talking into their sleeves.

Born free in Drumcree

They have a quare sense of humor in the Middle East. One of the suggestions in the tortuous quest for peace is that some of the land turned over to Yasser Arafat by Isr’l be turned into a nature reserve. There might be something in this. Remember all those nice green fields in Drumcree. How about a nature reserve there, too. Human nature that is. Orangemen could be given a tract of open land to march over in perpetuity. After a year or two, this migratory path would become "traditional." They would forget all about Garvaghy Road. The whole place could become a huge tourist attraction. They could call it . . . Orangestone!

George to take Fifth?

Still a few months to go before St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s never too early to speculate on the identity of the grand marshal for the New York parade. First name out of the rumor mill this year is that of Northern Ireland peace broker George Mitchell. President Clinton would like to see Mitchell win the Nobel Peace Prize and many Irish Americans would doubtless be delighted to see him lead the long green line on March 17.

But what about the Hibernians? The GM has to be a member of the AOH and to be a member one has to be Catholic. Mitchell is Catholic, but not Roman Catholic. He is Maronite Catholic. MC as opposed to RC? If the rumor bears fruit, we’ll soon see if this is a big deal or not.

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