Category: Archive

Inside File The tide turns — a bit

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

In the rush of recent editorials and op-eds about the North, the IRA and Sinn Féin took it hard on the chin while David Trimble was almost universally praised as a man of courage and principle.

There has been a shift. The New York Times, with editorial No. 4 on the North in as many weeks, last week spread the blame, albeit reserving the bulk of opprobrium for the Provos who bore "the heaviest responsibility" for the present deadlock.

Still, "Mr. Trimble’s threats and deadlines" were described as "counterproductive" and while such threats and deadlines had secured his leadership of the UUP, "the larger cost has been high."

And it wasn’t just the Times. The Washington Post now sees "fault on both sides" after its recent bad Shinners/good Unionists fusillade. The Boston Herald, no friend of Sinn Féin, came out with an opinion piece jointly penned by publisher Pat Purcell and former Rep. Joe Kennedy that described British Northern Secretary Peter Mandelson’s decision to pull the plug on the Executive as "outrageous." Sinn Féin’s U.S. Representative, Rita O’Hare, secured rebuttal space in the Chicago Tribune, while Alexander Cockburn, in the Los Angeles Times, argued that "Republicans have honored their commitment. The U.S. shouldn’t be suckered into thinking otherwise."

Tide’s in, tide’s out, in again . . .

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Pete and John

The Peter King-John McCain courtship would do Hollywood proud: Initial tempestuous meeting, a big spat, tension and unkind words. Sounds like John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. But we all know there will be a happy ending.

Pete and John, neither quiet men, have had their differences, not least on the matter of the wee North at a British Embassy bash a few years back. Matters got worse before getting better. The two also exchanged jibes in The Hill newspaper in late ’97. King went after McCain over campaign finance reform. McCain came back with his "The only ‘Republican’ organization I have ever noticed Mr. King represent is the Irish Republican Army" line. McCain also wrote: "Mr. King says that I have put my own ambitions before the party. If by that he means that I intend to run for president, he knows something I don’t …" Well, who’s laughing now?

George slays the . . .

George and the Dragon has nothing on it. George Mitchell, the "Maine" man of the peace process who now seems intent on keeping as far away from Northern Ireland as possible, is not completely giving up on the old sod.

Mitchell is chairman of the board of Irish National Golf Courses Ltd., a company that wants to build a golf and leisure complex at Doonbeg, Co. Clare. The area boasts one of the last relatively pristine sand dune systems in a county that is mostly bordered by ocean. The proposed development has caused uproar in the corridors of the Irish government and even the EU.

Various government departments have been at odds over the merits of the plan. The proposed site for the links is smack in the middle of what is known as an SAC, or Special Area of Conservation.

After lobbying from the developers, the SAC was reduced from 266 acres to a paltry 52. It seems that the now-squeezed conservation area contains only 20 percent of the known habitat of a rare and endangered snail, Vertigo Anguistor. A report to this effect was compiled by Sile de Valera’s Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.

According to Phoenix magazine, the report has never seen the light of day. Indeed, there are allegations floating on the sea breeze that the report was somehow suppressed. Either way, it seems that George Mitchell and his fellow hackers might have an Irish version of the Spotted Owl business on their hands.

This could make the peace process look like a walk on the fairway. The whole matter of the Doonbeg project has now landed in a legal bunker — the Dublin High Court — as a result of action taken by a group called Friends of the Irish Environment. Just who manages to blast out of the court in better shape remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the Doonbeg dunes continue to hold back the raging Atlantic while the Vertigo Anguistors prepare for a spring that could well be their last.

Charlie’s Tan

"VIP treatment for former Taoiseach at airport as he returns looking tanned and healthy after tests in US cancer clinic." The headline in the Sunday Independent concerned Charlie Haughey’s hush-hush visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in Manhattan last week for Prostate treatment.

The headline writer must have been confusing hemispheres. Either that or "IF" slept for a few days and missed the February heat wave. Perhaps Charlie was simply flushed, the news of his "VIP" visit having broken out. And himself up to his eyeballs in debt. Ah, but no slumming it for Charlie, even in these relatively hard times.

As for "tanned and healthy." You would think that the great and good at the Sindo would realize by now that in the context of cancer, tanned is anything but healthy. Then again, never let mere facts get in the way of putting the best complexion on a good yarn.

When Sammy . . .

Sammy "The Bull" Gravano’s charmed life took a dive last week when cops busted him in Phoenix on drugs charges. Readers will recall that the 1997 Peter Maas book on Gravano, "Underboss," contained interesting stuff on Sammy and Johnny O’Connor, the Athlone-born former business agent for Local 608 of the carpenters union.

O’Connor was the key witness in a case against John Gotti because O’Connor had been at the receiving end of a shooting allegedly ordered by the Dapper Don. Underboss relates how Gravano got a message to O’Connor before the Manhattan trial to the effect that it wouldn’t be a good idea "to testify against John."

O’Connor obliged. On the witness stand he testified that he hadn’t a clue who would want to harm him. The Echo reported this under the headline "When Sammy met Johnny." Now it’s "When Sammy became Johnny." Seems that Gravano was given the name "Johnny Moran" by the feds for his brief time in the Witness Protection Program. Do mob types of Italian origin in the WPP always get Irish names? Can you trust the next Mick Murphy you meet? The guy could be a capo for the Sopranos.

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