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Inside File: Fall fun and frolics

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Irish republicans will be thicker on the ground than leaves this fall in New York. Both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are planning big fund-raising affairs at zillion-dollar-a-night hotels during the period spanning mid-October to early November.

The Shinners, as has been the case for a few years now, are getting their licks in first with a big bash for Gerry Adams set for Oct. 14. Assuming the town isn’t completely broke after Gerry tears through the place — that in the wake of punters forking over for Pete King in the Plaza on Sept. 17 — Fianna Fáil, "The Republican Party," lest we forget, will be tripping the light fantastic with a "Gala Dinner" on Thursday, Nov. 5. The guest of honor will be Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Fianna Fáil are pulling out all the stops for this one. "IF" spies are saying that people who never figured before in FF’s social calculations have been getting invitations. The Soldiers of Destiny probably didn’t pick the date for the gala with this in mind, but Nov. 5, as history buffs will recall, is the date in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and the lads attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. Gunpowder, treason, plot and all that. Some of the greener FF’ers probably dream about glorious deeds like this in their beds. Perhaps one or two will stand up and toast old Guy, whose effigy will be getting toasted, literally, in bonfires all over England as the soldiers sit down for their smoked salmon and other goodies.

Don’t forget your shovel

During his visit to Belfast last week, President Clinton was given the task of turning the first sod of a new factory. But White House advance people went into a tizzy over the spade that was presented for the first dig. It was green. Horrified at the thought of causing offense to the North’s red, white and blue rinse brigade, the advance team demanded a new shovel. One was produced. It was black. Clearly, nobody ever told them about "Black Protestants." But sure there you go.

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Steady on, Steve

There are days when Steve Dunleavy of the New York Post hits the nail on the head so squarely that you want to cheer. Then there are days that he misses so badly you feel his pain as the hammer hits his foot. Dunleavy had a few of those days in Northern Ireland last week. The Irish-Aussie was carrying the Post’s standard as Clinton worked away for a second time on his most successful venture into international conflict resolution.

Anyone familiar with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post knows well that the daily is no friend of Bill. Quite the contrary. But you’ve got to take the odd day off. Steve didn’t. Following a nose trained in the trenches on more continents than actually exist, Dunleavy managed to corner just about every begrudger in the Six Counties, including one who apparently studies law at "Letter Kenny University."

Wrote Steve at one point: "The Irish, God bless their souls, unified in brilliant song, booze and bullets, can easily be conned — don’t I know it. I have the curse." But he found a few apparently not so cursed who thought the Clinton visit a load of old blarney. He apparently found one or two of them in the pub. In a story filed from Omagh headlined: "Bomb town: Stay home, Clinton," our Steve managed to pin down a few citizens of the still grieving town who were seriously put out by all the security surrounding Bubba’s arrival. Steve went for the nail again and decided that what was troubling Omagh folks most about the Clinton stopover was the closure of the town’s pubs. He then named no less than 17 of the padlocked boozers. "I think I only mentioned half of them," Steve then informed his readers. Hmmmm!

Fair’s fair. If the Post gets a slagging, so does the Daily News, which trumpeted its success the other day in the New York State Associated Press Writing Contest. What the hometown paper failed to say was that the top two prizes it received — one for reporting the Empire State Building shooting, the other for an investigative series on "the silent epidemic of asthma," were both inspired by people, Irish Americans in both cases, fired by the Mort Zuckerman-owned tab. In the former case it was ex-editor Pete Hamill, while in the latter it was ex-deputy managing editor Jim Mulvaney. "IF" expects no prizes for filling in the blank spaces on this one.

Well said, Clive

"Where would the English-speaking theater be without the Irish? From Congreve and Sheridan to O’Casey, Beckett and Friel and not forgetting Wilde and Shaw on the way — the Irish have played a dominant role in the world of the stage. And now the playhouses of Britain and America are gratefully being engulfed by the latest Irish wave."

Clive Barnes in the New York Post has been a fan of Irish drama for years. He should read the Tormont Webster’s Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary, which describes Congreve as an "English dramatist, brought up in Ireland," and Sheridan as a "British dramatist and politician, born in Ireland." At least Clive gives us some credit.

Citizens all

Back in the auld sod, meanwhile, there is a rather interesting debate developing over the rights of those holding Irish citizenship. The Irish People newspaper mentioned this recently in a story pointing toward the desire of not a few Irish citizens in the wee North to send political representatives to the fwee wee South.

Sinn Féin reckons that the logic behind the recently approved amendment to Article 2 of the Republic’s constitution is that Northern voters should now have a say in Southern elections. The new Article 2 states: "It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born on the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland."

Problem is, if you’re an Irish citizen in the North, you can’t vote in the South. Ask Mary McAleese, who is president of a nation as a result of an election she couldn’t cast a vote in. It will be interesting to see how Fianna Fáil deals with this one. One thing’s for sure, if you want a quiet life in Irish politics these days, best join Fine Gael.

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