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Inside File Shinners see red over green

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The planned crackdown on political corruption by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the inclusion in it of a bar on Irish political parties collecting funds in faraway places such as Tierra del Fuego and Tierra del Manhattan is causing uproar in Sinn Féin, a party that has been doing rather well financially since the friends of Sinn Féin was established on U.S. soil a few years back. The net sum after expenses collected to date has been deposited in Dublin, where Sinn Féin is formally headquartered.

A couple of years back, Dublin looked like a very safe bet indeed when the British government started muttering about the evil influences of money collected in nasty, ie non-British, foreign places. But given the sensitivities in the wee North and the need to keep the political parties there sweet in the context of the budding peace process, an exception was made for the Six Counties.

It didn’t really matter to Sinn Féin at the time given the yellow brick road to Dublin. But all that could now change and suddenly the Belfast banks, best known to some veteran republicans in the context of withdrawals, are suddenly looking like lifeboats on the Titanic.

At the same time, should Bertie lower the boom on foreign money, Sinn Féin’s dollar run to the wee North will only continue at her majesty’s government pleasure. And that, to be sure, is not the most comfortable position to be in from a Sinn Féin point of view.

Whatever happens, fund-raising in the U.S. is likely to continue. The matter at issue is where all the cash gathers interest. Perhaps Sinn Féin should set up shop in Switzerland. The Swiss have never worried much about where the money comes from and the chances of securing a 32-Canton Republic could keep the Shinners busy for years.

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"IF" jests, of course. But it is indeed ironic that Bertie Ahern is considering a block on Americans donating their hard-earned dollars to an Irish republican party. Sure, where did Fianna Fáil come from? Dev will be turning in his vault. Should this ban actually take effect, it presumably will mean the end for the U.S-based Friends of Fianna Fáil, a fund-raising group that has been somewhat eclipsed by the Shinners in recent times. Then again, the Soldiers of Destiny, cunning lot that they are, may already be beating their own path to Zurich.

Heeeere’s Rayprah!

Ray Flynn doesn’t know the meaning of the word idle. Not only is he covering the country on behalf of the Catholic Alliance, but the former Boston mayor and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican is getting ready to host a national daily cable TV show starting in April. On top of all this, Flynn is now an author. His novel, "The Accidental Pope," — co-authored by Robin Moore, bestselling author of "The French Connection" and "The Green Berets" — is just out and Flynn will be following up with a non-fiction book on Pope John Paul II in the spring.

"The Accidental Pope" tells the story of Irish American Bill Kelly, a former priest and widower who is elevated to the papacy after Brian Cardinal Comiskey, primate of All Ireland, withdraws from the race to succeed Pope John Paul II.

Sounds like interesting stuff, but thank God it’s fiction. The chances of an Irish cardinal being in the hunt for the papacy are about as likely right now as Ian Paisley conversion to Catholicism.

Indeed, the Irish hierarchy is not even in a position to vote for pope at this stage. The auld sod gets one cardinal and that remains Cahal Daly, who is over 80 and thus can’t exercise a vote in a papal conclave. Daly’s successor as archbishop of Armagh, Sean Brady, is still waiting for a red hat.

The last time an Irish cardinal actually cast a vote for pope was in 1963, when the Beatles were singing "She Loves You." So Flynn’s Irish pope would appear to be more than an accident. A bloomin’ miracle more like. Still, given the number of all those worldly-wise Beantowners who voted for him, Ray obviously knows how to spin a good yarn from a most unlikely thread.

Heavens above

"IF" was interested to read in Natural History magazine, the journal of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, that when it comes to naming celestial objects, the place to get it done is the Paris-based International Astronomical Union.

"IF" has often considered getting an asteroid named after itself given the fact that more than a few readers seem to think that "IF" is orbiting Mars. But before that, "IF" was indeed pleased to see that two asteroids have been assigned Irish-rooted names. Seems that there are zillions of these heavenly rocks floating around in space simply desperate to be singled out from the celestial crowd.

The IAU has assigned the names "Leviathan" and "Rossevan" to a couple of ‘troids. Both are in honor of the telescope at Birr Castle in County Offaly, which is nicknamed Leviathan. The instrument was, for 75 years, the largest in the world and it has been recently restored to former glory by the Earl of Rosse, hence the latter name.

It will be just grand to spot these two Paddy ‘troids in the night sky with the great telescope itself. That, of course, presumes a cloudless night and from what "IF" has been hearing lately, the only thing it hasn’t been raining in the auld sod is meteorites.

(Five) grand arrival

The verdict on the "Arrival" sculpture, now on display outside the United Nations building, has been generally favorable. It is indeed a formidable piece of work, both commemorating and celebrating the story of Irish migration to the four corners of the world over the last few centuries. "IF" will likely take a stroll over to the UN in the near future with a sandwich and take a closer work at the bronze work by Irish artist John Behan.

But it could be years before "IF" sets eyes on one of the 100 individually cast miniatures of the ship and its disembarking passengers that are now on sale for the princely sum of £5000 a bronze pop. We live in heady times to be sure.

As for "Arrival" itself. Being an Irish work of art it was only a matter of time before it attracted a nickname. But really, "The Mickflower?" Any better suggestions?

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