By Ray O’Hanlon
So what time will the Roscommon Society likely be passing the cathedral during the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade? Readers of the Irish Echo will have to look elsewhere for the information to assess the answer to that one. For the second year running, this newspaper will not be getting the parade line of march.
Readers will recall that last year the line of march did not appear in the Echo for just about the first time since, well, St. Patrick himself was attempting to save the Irish from their pagan ways. Some Irish are still trying to save other Irish from their allegedly heathen ways and in the case of this out-of-favor Irish paper, the stick has been brandished in the form of the line of march being placed elsewhere.
For years, the parade committee’s line of march was published by the Echo, at no charge, as a service to readers. But the committee has found it difficult to swallow much of the kind of coverage it has been exposed to in recent years. What’s that old saying again? If you can’t take the heat . . .
Bertie on patrol
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern took a break from the peace process and various political scandals last week and went to visit the Middle East. Ah, foreign adventures always go down well when things are a mess at home. Cool hand Bertie met Benjamin Netanyahu at one point and "IF" knows exactly what Bertie was thinking when he met his Isr’li counterpart: "Jayzus, he really does look like Bruton."
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Anyway, according to the Irish Independent, Bibi figured Bertie was just the man to carry a special message to Yasser Arafat concerning something or another. Bertie didn’t drop the ball and the message got through. Bravo, Bertie, the pony express had nothing on yerself. The taoiseach also met with Irish UN peacekeeping troops in South Lebanon and told them they were doing a great job. Of course, he couldn’t be sure the troops heard him, all of them being deaf from the shellfire, roaring sergeants and what not.
It’s tough being taoiseach and that’s a fact. Your host looks like your worst political nightmare. He has you running all over the place like some glorified bellhop. Your army just sits there looking at you like you’re some eejit talking to the desert wind.
With that in mind, "IF" reckons that readers will want to know more about Bertie. Well, a somewhat controversial book called "Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach and Peacemaker," by Dublin Ireland on Sunday journalists Ken Whelan and Eugene Masterson, will shortly be available in the U.S. It is distributed by Trafalgar Square Publications. P.O. Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT, 05053; (802) 457-19111. Definitely worth a look.
Move over, Maggie
"IF" reported recently that Margaret Thatcher’s dollar income had taken a plunge into the depths, as indicated by her 1997 tax filing with the IRS. And now the explanation. According to a recent story in the London Sunday Express, Dame Maggie, now 73, is getting down from her bike and taking things a little bit easier. According to the Express, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation’s treasurer, Nick Morris, explained that a deliberate decision had been taken to scale down fund-raising in the U.S.
Maggie is bringing it all home, so to speak, and concentrating on funding a professorship of enterprise studies at Cambridge University. Ain’t that grand? OK, so the lecture circuit in the U.S. is saving tons of lolly now that Maggie has retreated to Finchley. But that doesn’t mean the money is safe for long. According to the Daily Telegraph, "Gerry Adams has followed Lady Thatcher and John Major on to the American lecture circuit and is being touted [pun intended?] for $30,000 a time by a company which claims that he personally ‘rescued the Irish peace process from the brink of failure.’ The Sinn Fein leader has signed on with American Program Bureau, one of the world’s largest agencies, in an attempt to capitalize on his new-found status as international statesman."
According to the Torygraph, other speakers signed up with APB include Chris Patten, currently chairing in the commission looking into the future of Gerry’s least favorite police force. Perhaps Gerry and Chris could perform a lecturing duet. Needless to say, the Torygraph digs up some people who are furious at this assault by Adams on the federal reserve.
Fair play to our Gerry, "IF" reckons. Presumably, he has to turn over whatever fees he earns to Sinn Féin’s, eh, central bankers, as is the norm with party members. This at least would place Adams in stark contrast to Maggie, who basically lined her handbag. Still, 30 grand for an earful of even our Gerry does seem a bit steep. There could be money in bootleg Gerry tapes one of these days.
So, Raúl Salinas, brother of former Mexican Presidente Carlos, has been hit with a 50-year sentence for ordering the 1994 assassination of a rising star in his brother’s own party. Fifty years in a Mexican jail. Caramba! Anyway, Raúl is asking UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to look into his jail cell conditions and she has agreed to do just that. Meanwhile, Carlos continues to live in exile in the old sod. Boy, the damp must be murdering him this time of year. Still, the damp beats a Mexican prison any day, es verdad.
Ben’s big night
Ben Gilman might be employing a food-and-drink taster every time he sips chardonnay in the same room as Democrats these days, but the taster can probably stay home next week when the National Assembly of Irish American Republicans honors the Rockland County congressman at O’Neill’s in Manhattan. Several others are being honored on the night, one of them being the ever popular Jack Irwin, but Gilman rates special billing now that he is a prime political target for New York area Irish Americans of the Democratic persuasion. This as a result of his voting for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. The chardonnay wars, "IF" reckons, are only cooling up. Tickets for the event are $50 at the door or call (518) 369-4427.