Category: Archive

McAleese draws ire

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

It came on the same day when a planned visit to a primary school on the Shankill Road in Belfast had to be moved after loyalist threats to disrupt the visit.
Children from Edenbrook school on the Shankill met the president instead at a hotel in South Belfast. About 20 children from the Protestant school sang and played music for her there.
Later, McAleese visited another primary school in a loyalist area of South Belfast. There she was photographed greeting Jackie McDonald, a convicted extortionist.
McAleese and her husband Martin are known to be friendly with McDonald. He has played golf with him at the exclusive K Club in County Kildare. The UDA man also attended President McAleese’s inauguration in Dublin last November.
The relationship evolved from the president’s efforts to build bridges with unionists, efforts that came to a temporary standstill after she made comments in February this year comparing the way some Protestants teach their children to hate Catholics with the Nazis.
She later apologized for her “clumsy” comments and explained she had implicitly meant to criticize Catholics who taught their children to dislike Protestants. Many unionists, however, have not yet been able to forgive her.
McDonald, however, described McAleese as “an ambassador.” He said “Herself and Martin have worked wonders and have opened doors for people like myself who can go and show what sort of people we are and what we are not”.
“Mary invited us down to the Aras [president’s official residence] on her birthday at the end of June. A lot of people from the estate and from the school came down and could see what type of person she really is and her personality is a great thing.”
Some victims of loyalist violence have expressed anger and dismay. Kathleen McCaughey, who was forced to abandon her home in Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, this summer, said she was disappointed.
“Some local politicians have visited me but no one from the Irish government or the president. Seeing her meet this man made me angry and I’m sure a lot of people looking on at this will share my anger.”

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