By Ray O’Hanlon
The human rights group Northern Ireland Alert was showing its slightly less than empirical side when it assessed the two main presidential candidates in its latest "scorecard." The San Francisco-based NIA, comprising eagle-eyed lawyers and paralegals, has performed a significant service in recent times in keeping tabs on members of Congress and their records on Ireland. The latest report stated that the Gore/Lieberman ticket’s record was "light years" beyond that of the other presidential candidates, ergo Al and Joe deserved to be elected.
There was praise for the GOP ticket, too, but "light years" is a gap well nigh impossible to bridge with only a few weeks to go before election day. In fairness to Bush, his statements on Ireland are as much "light years" ahead of just about every previous GOP candidate as Gore is arguably "light years" ahead of him. Bob Dole did take big strides four years ago, but Bush has pulled, or has been pulled, well beyond even Dole’s advanced Irish positions.
Dick Cheney, on the other hand, is not exactly the man in the green suit. But there is a potential Irish connection for Cheney should he find himself being veep and clueless about the auld sod. Cheney, whose political base is Wyoming, allied himself with several other area politicians a while back in a land conservation effort in his home state. One of those politicians who worked with Cheney was Mike Sullivan, former governor of Wyoming and now U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
As for "light years?" The term smacks of hyperbole and doesn’t do justice to the rest of the NIA scorecard’s sober assessment of all candidates, including Pat Buchanan, who received a favorable rating of "Interested." Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, meanwhile, was rated as "Uninterested," although it was noted that he once attended an American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington and sat at the same table as Gerry Adams. Now, time was that being within mere earshot of Adams was enough to have one branded as a potential Provo. NIA clearly doesn’t believe that breaking bread with our Gerry means you’re necessarily going to give him any.
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Vice President Al Gore at least gave the impression of a coordinated campaign on the day last week that gave birth to his latest statement on Ireland. You never can be sure who actually writes these candidate statements, but even if he didn’t burn the midnight oil over this one, Gore did manage to chose a green tie to go with his suit on the day that his latest pitch to Irish Americans was unveiled.
Such precise coordination, accidental or not, is certain to send shivers down the spines of Republicans. Next time "Dubya" releases something on Ireland, he should wear green cowboy boots.
The Irish are getting the bejaysus knocked out of them by the cunning diplomatic sons of Italy. That at least is the picture being painted in reports across the water. Seems that the Italians are using carrots and sticks, but mostly the latter, in their effort to win one of the two rotating United Nations Security Council seats to be filled in the General Assembly election set for Oct. 10. If reports are to be believed, Norway has a lock on one of the seats and that leaves the auld "sod nostrum" standing alone before the might of Rome’s diplo-legions.
But why do the Italians want so badly to get back on the council only four years after their last stint? "IF" made a call. After some deliberation, the Italian Mission to the UN assigned political counselor Gianfranco Incarnata to deal with "IF." Gianfranco, as one might expect, was as reasonable as he was logical. "We don’t see that Norway has already been elected and we don’t see our candidacy as being opposed to that of Ireland," Gianfranco said.
He added that Italy would have no problem if Ireland got the other seat. But Italy had to secure its own seat for strategic reasons regardless of Irish feelings. Simply put, Italy feels the need to have some measure of control over events in its backyard. That backyard is the Mediterranean, what the Romans referred to as "mare nostrum," or our sea. That sea is divided by present day Rome into four regions: west, east, Middle East and North Africa. The west is fine but the east equals a crisis in the Balkans. The Middle East is in perpetual crisis, while North Africa includes longstanding areas of Italians interest, including Somalia and Eritrea.
"We have to ensure that our views get through," Gianfranco stressed.
Clearly, the views from faraway Dublin cut no ice in mare nostrum. This could get rather nasty.
It’s a long way to . . .
The Roman legions might be tramping all over Ireland’s Security Council hopes, but the Paddies do have a lock on a slice of the pacific that covers the UN’s latest member, Tuvalu. Seems that Ireland’s man in Canberra, Dick O’Brien, made the trip to the tiny island nation where he pleaded for Tuvalu’s support in the Oct. 10 election. Tuvalu has two votes, like everyone else in the General Assembly vote. The islanders were impressed by this visitor from another island so far away.
"You have come a long way to Tuvalu. Tuvalu will vote for you," O’Brien was told by the island’s leader.
Clearly, there was both rhyme and reason in his lengthy journey. No word of the Italians making landfall on Tuvalu yet. "IF"’s spies in the western Pacific are keeping an eye out all the same.
What have Ennis, Co. Clare, and Medellin in Colombia got in common. Well, the feds are keeping a sharp eye on both towns. The recent investigation of Ireland as a possible drugs shipping point by agents from the General Accounting Office gave the island a more or less clean sheet. But it highlighted one matter of particular concern to law-enforcement authorities: the involvement of a growing number of Irish-based Nigerian criminals in drug smuggling. Dublin and Cork are named in the GAO report, but Ennis is also listed as a base of operations. According to the GAO, the U.S. Secret Service is now on the case. Well, at least Ennis on a rainy day is a good place for men in raincoats to blend into the background.