Two supplements, including contributions by Tim Pat Coogan and Diarmaid Ferriter, will be published in the Irish Independent on Wednesday and Thursday to accompany the launch of a new book by Ryan Tubridy on John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. Extracts will reveal how a historic speech by the US President was censored by then Irish president Eamon de Valera.
Posts categorized “United States”
Niall O’Dowd went from being an ordinary Irish emigrant to the US in the late ’70s to playing a key role in the peace process. Now he has written his autobiography, ‘An Irish Voice’.
Read Tim Pat’s review from the Irish Independent:
I have always thought of Niall O’Dowd as the contemporary equivalent of John Boyle O’Reilly, the 19th-century Meath-born Irish nationalist who became both the foremost Irish-American journalist of his day and the leading proponent of a political, non-violent settlement of Ireland’s difficulties.
The shots fired at Mary Robinson by Jewish groups are probably really aimed at President Obama and his efforts to broker a peace deal with Israel starting with an end to the building of illegal Jewish settlements.
The President is right to work for peace. The blame which America’s apparent willingness to support Israel in whatever it does has occasioned in the Arab street is both harmful to America’s national interest, and a source of support for Al Qaeda.
But the attempt to target one of the greatest living Irish women, internationally recognized as a human rights campaigner, in a smear campaign orchestrated by lobbyists for the State of Israel has implications for Irish policy towards Israel and contains potential repercussions for the lobbyists’ cause that do not appear well thought out.
It comes just after an Irish parliamentary delegation had returned to Ireland from a fact finding mission to Gaza and the other Arab territories. It also comes at a time when the recent fighting and its aftermath has increased the swing in Irish public opinion from an uncomprehending, but generally admiring, attitude towards the foundation of the State of Israel, and the State’s early fight to defend itself, to one of ever growing distaste for its increasingly brutal and ineffective military approach to the Palestinian problem.
A few days before the Robinson controversy blew up, I spoke with a highly respected Irish political figure (incredibly there are still such) who had been on the all-party Irish parliamentary delegation and found him to be horrified as much by the illegal settlement building as by the devastation caused to the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip and the effects of the state of siege which the Israel military are enforcing on the population of Gaza.
To judge from the initial statement the delegation subsequently released, everyone else in the party shared his concerns and the full Report of the delegation , scheduled for next month is expected to be particularly damning. Israeli embassy spokespersons are already mounting a campaign to discredit the delegations findings. Even in the midst of chronic economic problems, this controversy seems certain to grow, not diminish.
The TD I spoke to represents a border constituency and was an informed participant in the behind the scenes diplomacy that led to the Good Friday Agreement. His father was a member of Michael Collins’ elite hit team The Squad and by birth and up-bringing he would have regarded the Unionists with distaste and wished for a United Ireland.
But, as a practicing politician, he recognised that times had changed and it was time to move on. The gun had to be put away, the Six County State recognised, the British presence accepted, and both sides, Republican and Unionists, had to co-operate in the interests of peace, allowing the ultimate solution of deeply embedded problems to be resolved in the future by their grandchildren if necessary.
Translated to Palestine this viewpoint would mean that Hamas would cease rocket attacks, recognise the State of Israel and the Israelis would engage in-all party talks, brokered by the US, which would give the Palestinians their State, end the blockade of Gaza and the building of illegal settlements.
The Irish political class, more than most Europeans, have an empathy with problems left over from the days of the British empire. Arthur Balfour, the British politician probably most responsible for the introduction to Ireland, was also the statesman who set today’s events in train with his Declaration, issued during the same era, (1917) which favored “ the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”.
The Declaration also stated that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
However the reality which confronted the Dáil delegation in Gaza, during its recent visit, was, in Irish terms, as though a million and a half Nationalists, unwillingly and without compensation, had been forcibly driven across the Border and penned into an area one-third the size of Louth where they could look across the border at the land they once owned.
The creation of such ghettos would have not just produced murderous and irresponsible reactions such as the creation of Hamas and its criminally irresponsible rocket firings, but IRA atrocity on a scale not even possible to guess at, As it was, the hatred that Unionist discrimination spawned in Ireland did gave rise to a plethora of IRAs.
But the British did not drop white phosphorus on densely populated civilian areas, as was done during the recent destruction of Gaza. Nor did they automatically blow up the homes of known IRA men as standard operating procedure. Nor (in recent centuries at least) did they deliberately use massacre as a counter-insurgency tool as was done in Deir Yassim in 1948 and at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982.
The fact that the Israeli propaganda machine dubs such activities “operations” does not sanitise them, lessen their impact, nor make them more morally acceptable. The policy which the Unionists once espoused, that error has no rights, opponent, no justification, or legal protections did not eradicate terrorism. It encouraged it.
Directing the blame for “operations” at those who may have thrown, a bomb, a rock, or fired a rocket neither makes “operations” justifiable nor proportionate.
The analogies between the Irish and the Palestinian situations however do have a contemporary relevance which contains important seeds of hope. The name Clinton shines by its own light where the Irish peace process is concerned. But not alone is Hilary Clinton the American leader most charged with finding a Middle East solution, the man who did most to smooth the Good Friday negotiations, George Mitchell, is on the ground trying to repeat what was done in Belfast.
It is in America’s and the world’s interest that they succeed. But above all it is in the interest of Israel and the Palestinians. Peace is what should be striven for by the Israeli spin doctors, not the demonization of Mary Robinson.
- First published 10th August 2009 at IrishCentral.com
By Tim Pat Coogan
Blogland here I come!
Embarking on the journey to Blogdom is a fascinating undertaking.. I hope to have the time to explore this new world thoroughly, not merely for the intrinsic interest of the project, but because it gives me the opportunity of thanking the great number of people who have written to me at my web site. I seem to have got e-mails from everywhere. Not merely from Ireland and the obvious countries of the Irish diaspora, England, America, Canada and Australia, but from places like Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Greece and Latin America.
In contrast to what they try to tell you in some universities interest in Irish history is widespread and seemingly growing.
I have not always been able to answer all the queries and comments which land electronically on my desk at “Eventually”, the name of my house. My hope is that eventually I will manage to reply to everyone individually, but for the moment may I be allowed to use this first blog to say a collective “thank you.”
Writing on the morning after the McCain Obama debate, in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by the sub-prime debacle, with wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, I find that concerns on all these issue overshadow the thoughts and preoccupations a writer would normally be expected to have on the eve of the launch of their memoirs (On Tuesday next, September 30th)
I feel as though America, the leader of the democratic family of nations, the country I know and love, has been taken over by an incompetent, murderously inclined clique who should be facing trial as war criminals. Apart from the loss of some four thousand American lives in Iraq they have been responsible for close on six hundred thousand Iraqi casualties in a war begun in a fog of lies and deceit to make the world safe for Haliburton. The marionette’s glove has Bush’s face on it but the hand that manipulated it was Cheney’s and behind him the greedy world of Corporate CEOdom that has created a world crisis.
During their eight years in the White House the Republican leadership, the representatives of what is traditionally viewed as the party of business, have devalued the dollar and set at serious risk not merely the economy of the people who elected them, but those of countries all round the world. For some years now, looking on, as China and Russia grow inexorably stronger I have felt increasingly that I was re-living the Fall of the Roman Empire.
The dull thud last Friday as Bush’s financial czar, Paulson, went down on his knees in the White House Cabinet Room to unavailing beg for the passage of the $750 billion dollar bail out package on which America and the world’s financial system depends, heightened that feeling.
It doesn’t seem credible that a Republican candidate for the said White House could still be in there with a shout, but there’s John McCain still moving forward with the Floozie with the Uzi by his side. Should anything happen to the seventy two year old, badly traumatised war veteran, Sarah Palin, who once campaigned that Alaska be separated from the US, likes machine guns, and taught her children to shoot moose, will be sitting on the seat now warmed by George Bush’s bottom
Not a pretty thought but, given the available evidence of George and Sarah’s thought processes, that could probably be construed as a symbolic meeting of minds. Meanwhile, of course, back on the ranch the Irish Celtic Tiger economy has become not so much striped as scarified. Much of the pain is self-inflicted, an over-reliance on the building industry and “excessive leveraging”, the corporate newspeak used to describe the unlovely offspring born of insatiable coupling between licentious borrower and irresponsibly bandoned lender.
Now the banks, which gave out umbrellas all round as the economic sun shone, are taking them back again as the storm clouds break. Firms, particularly US multi-nationals, are either closing, or packing up and departing towards sweat shop economies, Further departures are feared in the not too distant future. And there’s a hole the size of the Grand Canon in the Government’s tax receipts estimates.
Accordingly, though I admire John McCain’s personal virtues, ironically those praised by the ancient Romans, courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice, politically he’s a different matter. I found it very hard, in the midst of a recession triggered by his party, to hear him during the presidential debate, extol the virtues of the low Irish corporate tax rate and extend it as a model for America.
This is the sort of Republican spin doctor rubbish we associate with the Karl Roves and his like. It obscures the political reality of the erosion of American civil liberties, the freedoms which George Bush claimed to be upholding as he bombed his way into control of Iraq’s oil.
If John McCain is that impressed by the Irish tax system it would be helpful if he would pass on his views to the boardrooms of the multi-nationals now exiting, or planning to exit, Ireland’s shores.
Anyhow, as I said earlier it is literally the morning after ( the debate) so maybe my deression will lift as the hours pass and the book launch nears. The memoir has just hit the shops and already the response has been very encouraging. Thanks once again to everyone who e-mailed my web page and stand by for further, and, I hope, frequent excursions into the Wonderful World of Bloggers.