Donie Cassidy and Dan the Man
Deaglán de Bréadún
A frequent contributor of comments on this blog, Dan Sullivan has a very interesting letter in today’s Irish Times on the issue of Seanad reform. He puts the spotlight on Senator Donie Cassidy who, according to Dan, is singlehandedly holding up the process of widening the franchise for the the six university seats. No doubt Donie will have a riposte. To read the letter, click here
Donie on the hustings (Photograph by Alan Betson)
Herewith some stray thoughts and miscellaneous notes from the past week:
Last night I attended the annual Independence Day bash (held a day early) at the US Ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park. It must be the change of administration because there was a notable scarcity of the usual right-of-centre “suspects” among the attendance whereas the liberal-left, including one or two leading trade unionists. seemed to be present in greater numbers than usual. Must be the “Obama Effect”.
On a more serious note, there is a disturbing piece in today’s Guardian by Beatrix Campbell about the murder of the lawyer Rosemary Nelson, whom I met when I was covering the Drumcree/Garvaghy Road controversy about the routing of a local Orange Parade. The late Mo Mowlam doesn’t come out of it very well. To read the article, click here.
There is an equally-disturbing piece in the latest Phoenix claiming that an agent of one of the British security services is posing to the media as a representative of the Real IRA. The South African Truth Commission seemed to clear up a lot of these issues in that country. Perhaps it is time for one in Northern Ireland too.
Not everyone who watched the documentary on Seán Lemass on RTE was best-pleased. I see my friend and colleague James Downey giving it a good slating today. Personally, I didn’t have any great objection to it, apart from one. The narrator kept referring to Lemass as a former IRA “gunman”. Now, he was a man, he was in the IRA and he did carry a gun, which he used quite ruthlessly on the original Bloody Sunday, apparently. But describing him as “an IRA gunman” implies, in the current ideological atmosphere, that he was somehow a disreputable gangster-type when, in fact, he saw himself as operating under the aegis of the nascent Irish State. I bet French politicians who had been involved in the Maquis and then went on to become ministers in a post-liberation government were not casually designated as “Maquis gunmen”. It was inappropriate and I’m surprised someone didn’t point this out before the programme went on air.
That’s not to say that I personally agree with what Lemass is said to have done on Bloody Sunday. In fact, the more I ponder the matter, the more doubts I have about the whole War of Independence project which led to so many deaths and was followed by an even more horrific Civil War. It increasingly seems to me that we could have achieved our independence by essentially non-violent means (any violence would have come from the authorites at the time, seeking to suppress peaceful protest). It would have taken longer but, who knows, the partition of our country might have been less-entrenched. Ah, the “what-ifs” of history. Consider Gandhi’s achievement: he secured independence and stable democracy for a country which now has a population of about one billion.
In an interview I did with the commentator/journalist Timothy Garton Ash, he suggested that the wheel of history had turned and that now, instead of 1789-style violent overthrow of the established order, the same result is being achieved by long-drawn-out civil resistance. He would cite Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Serbia under Milosevic as examples. To read the interview, click here.