By Ray O’Hanlon
With just about anybody who ever gave George W. Bush the time of day now being tipped as his Irish ambassadorial pick — Pittsburgh’s Dan Rooney is but the latest — "IF" has been told that it might be an idea to forget about a new ambassador altogether for the time being. Seems that the Bush White House and Colin Powell’s State Department are serious about diplomatic appointments and are not going to rush them simply to reward party loyalists.
In the case of Dublin, a well-placed source told "IF" that the present U.S. ambassador, Mike Sullivan, was likely to stay in the Phoenix Park for the time being. Apparently, the view from the Potomac is that America’s man by the Liffey is doing a good job, and though he may be a Democrat, he is a conservative-minded one from a Western, GOP-voting state, Wyoming. On top of that, Sullivan is a pal Of Dick Cheney.
If "IF"’s source is on the mark, half the Republicans in the country and a good chunk of the Texas population will have to bide their wee for now. Ah well, there’s always Ulan Bator!
Hangin’ up there
The Great Hunger Memorial of Westchester posters visible on the various Metro North lines are going to be hanging around for a while yet. Such has been the level of positive reaction to these reminders of Ireland’s hungry past, and the world’s present day hunger problems, that the company that assigns outdoor advertising space on the lines, TDI, is allowing existing posters to stay up if there is no demand for the space they are covering.
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Additionally, the Great Hunger Memorial people are planning a second wave of posters in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day. Later in the year, when the Westchester memorial is unveiled a new batch of posters will be unfurled featuring a couple of fresh celebrity faces. "IF" has heard one or two names but is sworn to secrecy for the time being. Suffice it to say, the new faces will be instantly recognizable.
It’s getting tougher to be a Hibernian and have it taken for granted that you’re a Catholic in good standing. And that doesn’t just apply to the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade row. "IF" is well used to the Echo taking a few hits over matters spiritual and temporal, but the Hibernian Digest? Seems that the in-house AOH publication has been in grave error — at least in the eyes of Catholic League President William Donohue.
Donohue, a man always ready with a line for the press, fired off a letter to AOH National President Tom Gilligan recently in which he complained about anti-church coverage in the Irish media while suggesting that this "ubquitous campaign" had jumped the Atlantic only to land in a Digest report penned by Belfast’s Fr. Des Wilson.
Wilson, in a piece written for the Digest, was upset at the fact that the archbishop of Armagh, Sean Brady — the guy who didn’t get the red hat from the pope last week — had paid a visit to the RUC top brass a while back. Wilson took serious issue with the archbishop’s judgment. Donohue, in turn, took issue with both Wilson and the Digest.
"We do not need the National Hibernian Digest criticizing the primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland in an insulting, demeaning and one-sided report. This kind of backbiting is unnecessary and serves only to divide the Church when divisiveness is the last thing we need. I hope that in the future we will see more accurate, fair and respectful coverage," Donohue wrote.
Gilligan, not a man to roll over easily, responded in part: "First, you must forgive me, but I am unaware of the campaign to which you refer in Ireland. . . . We have reviewed every Digest edition produced for the last four years and find nothing whatsoever that would lend the slightest support to your assertion that is not supportive of the Catholic church here or in Ireland.
Gilligan went on to strongly defend Fr. Wilson’s record in battling anti-Catholic discrimination in the North over the last 30 years. He concluded: "I hope your expression of concern for Archbishop Brady will soon extend to those who must bear the brunt of corruption and violence of the RUC, a police body convicted of more human and civil rights violations than any security force in Europe."
One man’s nationality . . .
The New York Times wrestled well with the McAllister family saga last week, its report appearing on page one of the Metro Section. "IF," however, was uncomfortable with the Times use of that word pairing so beloved by the Fleet Street/Wapping brigade when it wakes up in the morning in full race-baiting mode.
The term "Irish terrorist" is beginning to reach such a level of widespread and near casual use that it might only be a matter of time before it’s lumped into the dictionary alongside the likes of Irish Whiskey or Irish Setter.
There are indeed people in this sad world of ours who would be viewed by the bulk of humanity as terrorists. And yes, some of them hail from the island of Ireland. But the habit of pairing terrorism with particular nationalities merely serves to tar that nationality with the same brush leading to the point where the word terrorist can almost become synonymous with that nationality.
The term "Basque terrorist" is another case in point. There is no such thing. There might be ETA terrorists or, at a stretch, Basque separatist terrorists, but that’s as far as it goes. It’s a fine point, but one that the media often misses, presumably devoid of ill-intent in the case of the New York Times or sometimes malign design in the case of the Fleet Street/Wapping Daily Slop stable.
The irony in Malachy McAllister’s case is that a federal judge has ruled that he is in fact British. But nobody would be caught dead referring to a "British terrorist." Perish the thought. There’s simply no such thing old boy. And indeed there is not.
€ The crises of the world do not take a time-out for a new American leader. . . . George W. Bush might see the election of a hawkish prime minister in Isr’l and the crumbling of the peace accord in Northern Ireland in his first month in office . . . " The New York Times.