Category: Archive

Inside File Ireland takes on Slobo

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Neutrality is a hot issue in Ireland with moves afoot to draw the country into a more definitive defense role in a united Europe. But NATO membership, if it ever comes about at all, is a long way off. In Ireland itself, that is.

But on Ellis Island last week, the ranks of NATO were suddenly swelled by the inclusion of the auld sod’s military might. Pity nobody told the Serbs. They might have considered instant surrender. Ireland’s NATO membership, however, was fleeting. It came about with a visit to the immigration shrine by Vice President Al Gore. Gore was on hand for a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In a salute to the alliance, and by way of a colorful backdrop, the flags of the NATO allies were lined up in a row just outside the island’s immigration museum.

Albania’s flag was thrown in as an acknowledgment of that non-NATO country’s role in the present Balkans conflict. But somebody also included an Irish tricolor in the avenue of flags. Not that green, white and orange looks out of place on Ellis Island. Quite the contrary. But this was not the right occasion. After a little while fluttering in the harbor breeze with its new-found military pals, the tricolor was spotted by someone with a clue and the error pointed out. It was removed "quietly and nicely," according to an "IF" source.

Olé, Frank

"Angela’s Ashes" is about to become Simon & Schuster’s best selling hardcover of all time. Close to 2.5 million copies have been snapped up by readers eager to read about Limerick in the not-so-rare old times. Much of the credit for the whopping sales goes to Frank himself, according to a report in Forbes magazine.

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These days it’s not good enough just to be a good writer. A best-selling author also has to be a knock-out showman, or woman. No better man than Frank when it comes to show and tell. Forbes attributes a good share of the "Angela’s Ashes" mega-success to Frank himself making more than 200 public appearances on behalf of his tome.

Meanwhile, "Angela’s Ashes" is selling out in more languages that just English. The Spanish version, "Las Cenizas de Angela," is, according to the New Jersey Spanish language paper La Voz, "El extraordinario ‘bestseller’ ahora en Espanol." Does this mean that Frank has to do his showbiz thing all over again in another language? And speaking of "Las Cenizas de Angela," what is the Spanish for ’tis anyway?

Mets nixed

No free pencils at Shea Stadium anymore and no free lunch for Mets bigs at the 21 Club in Manhattan next week, when next year’s transAtlantic voyage of the reconstructed Famine-era sailing ship Jeanie Johnston will be previewed by Donal J. Geaney, head of Elan Corporation, the main corporate sponsor of the Jeanie Johnston project and one that clearly has no problem in digging a little deeper into its pockets than $855.

No Mets people are on the invitation list for the lunch at all, "IF" has learned. Not that they are going to go hungry in Shea, where presumably the boardroom sluggers get discounts on those hot dogs they are selling that require a home equity loan even before the soda is added. Quite unbelievable, really, that the Mets would squander the opportunity to get in on what promises to be a very positive story next year as the "Millennium Voyage" of the Jeanie Johnston sets Irish North American hearts fluttering from Quebec to New York.

The public -relations debacle that has been the Mets refusal to come up with anything more than an $855 contribution to the ship’s construction arising from last year’s Irish Night at Shea was recently highlighted in the public-relations industry magazine O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report. Interestingly, this report had former Chase Bank executive Charles McCabe, who acted as a liaison between the Mets and the fund-raising group, Famine Ship Limited, suggesting that this year’s Irish Night might actually see the Mets and FSL working together again.

McCabe described the $855 as a "fair amount" from a business point of view. At the same time he admitted that the check "looks ridiculous." O’Dwyer’s also spoke with Mets senior vice-president Mark Bingham. He poured cold water on the notion of working again with FSL. "I’m not feeling it, which is not easy to say. I’m half-Irish myself," Bingham told O’Dwyer’s.

Metaphor drought

Gerry Adams must be fast running out of metaphors to describe the peace process and the state of the Good Friday agreement. Last week, all was in "free fall," but by the weekend it was a case of the agreement "as a vehicle is now stationary." So what’s next? A free-falling stationary vehicle vanishing into the blue?

Good move

Talk about the chills. Last Thursday evening’s scheduled 9 o’clock movie on Irish television’s Network 2 station was the 1995 film starring Andy Garcia and Christopher Walken called "What To Do In Denver When You’re Dead." The film was pulled and replaced with another less likely to upset viewers even more than they already were after the Littleton school massacre. Full marks to RTE for good taste and sensitivity.

Thumbs down

Rep. Floyd Flake is not impressed by the State Department’s support for President Clinton’s Irish policy. In his New York Post column, Flake, a Queens Democrat, wrote that under Madeleine Albright, the department’s record has been almost second rate.

"And it has failed to provide the requisite follow-through and ongoing leadership for President Clinton in Isr’l, and the middle East, Ireland and China — and globally in general," Flake opined.

Flake might not be intimately familiar with the State Department’s attitude to "the Irish Question" down the years — one rarely sympathetic to Irish-American concerns — but he sure seems to have an idea as to how Foggy Bottom is not up to the job right now.

At the same time, of course, some observers would suggest that the more obvious high points in Clinton’s quest for a settlement in the wee North were attained as a result of the traditionally anglophile State Department being kept at arms length with decisions being made within the White House itself.

Still, Flake’s assessment was interesting and also significant was to see Ireland once again being ranked up there with big-time foreign policy concerns such as the Middle East and China.

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