17 March 2006

Nothing less than equality will suffice

Daily Ireland


It’s hard to know how to categorise the Irish obsession with the US come St Patrick’s Day. No one would deny the Irish who overcame discrimination and adversity to build the USA their day in the sun, but whether our political leaders need to spend St Patrick’s Day on Capitol Hill is another matter altogether.
Suffice to say, that some admirers of the shepherd boy who brought Christianity to Ireland will allow themselves a wry smile at the prospect of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern discussing the Irish peace process with a US President who has been castigated for torture and warmongering by one of his predecessors, Jimmy Carter.
However, with only the Rev Ian Paisley snubbing the shamrock hooley in the White House this morning, it’s clear that the St Patrick’s Day festivities are seen by nationalist Ireland as an opportunity to get their message across to a receptive audience.
All that may be changing now, however, as President Bush’s Sergeant Bilko, Mitchell Reiss, brings the deft touch to Irish policy which until now has been confined by the White House administration to Iraq.
Not content with dismissing the International Commission on Decommissioning by rejecting their unanimous assertion — and the conviction of the independent observers — that the IRA had put all its weapons beyond use, Mr Reiss has now decided to play ‘blink’ with Gerry Adams.
It seems that until Mr Adams signs up to the PSNI, the US envoy is going to prevent him from personally raising money for Sinn Féin in the US.
Mr Adams last night castigated Mr Reiss in no uncertain terms, stating that if he was advising the Bush administration to take its current stand, he was giving very bad advice indeed. In diplomatic language, that’s basically the equivalent of saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing and shouldn’t be in the job.
It’s hard to know if such an approach is more childish than oafish — because Friends of Sinn Féin in the US can raise greenbacks by the cartload as long as the Sinn Féin President isn’t present — but either way if Gerry Adams was to allow fundraising in the US to affect his critical faculties when he makes the call on the PSNI, he would be run out of town by his electorate.
Mr Reiss, knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, won’t understand that of course.
He shouldn’t take our word for it that he’s barking up the wrong tree. Take the word of the US’s premier Irish-American newspaper, the Irish Echo, which declared this week: “The largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland has been made the whipping boy of the St Patrick’s Day season... The problem is this: The North’s nationalists sat at the back of the bus for too long to now tolerate anything short of equality.”
On the National Saint’s Day, Amen to that.
Go raibh Lá Féile Pádraig faoi shéan ag ár léitheoirí uilig.

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