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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 4, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

    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.

    • enda says:

      This the same Senator Donie Cassidy who said the following in April 2008.

      “We have a duty to tell first-time house buyers, young couples with no previous experience, that there is unbelievable value in the marketplace today. It will not last forever. It is never the wrong time to do the right thing. I offer the House the benefit of my experience and my opinion which is all any Member can do. I will remind the House, perhaps in 12 or 18 months, when prices have again increased by 25% or 30%, that they were told this by the Leader of the House on this historic day, the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.”

    • Peter B says:

      Official Seanad Report 25/02/2009:

      Senator Cassidy: …We all want to be uplifted. The extent of bad news is one of the reasons that newspaper sales are declining. It is lovely to be able to lift one’s mood from time to time by tuning into a country music channel.

    • Peter B says:

      It would seem that Donie isn’t a fan of educated people – Seanad Report 25/02/2009. I’d imagine he might like to reduce the numbers appointed from the academic sector!

      Senator Donie Cassidy: ——Members would display more common sense. I never interrupt any Member but it seems to be the fashion now that the more educated one is, the more one interrupts.

    • John Heavey says:

      another t**d from the FF genetic swamp.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Enda, I believe that day is now honoured each year as Donie Cassidy day.

      I have my own suspicions as to why the Senator is acting as he is but no doubt he will seek to do as he has done up to now and just ignore the problem and hope that he can make into the safety of the summer recess without handing in his homework to the minister’s group. He’s quite adept at ignoring the bleeding obvious but unpleasant as the picture above illustrates quite well.

      It would be hard to imagine telling people in 1989 when DCU and UL were given university status that as long into the future as the 1969 moon landings were then into the past, there were have still been no movement on this or any other attempts to reform the Seanad.

      And I wonder does the President as the prime maintainer and upholder of the constitution have a role in delivering a kick under the tables at the government of the day into taking action. Or are the chair-backs of the Seanad the replacement for the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone, that no matter what changes there are to be in our futures that nothing about that august collective can ever change? Like I said, I’ve my suspicions as to why Donie is acting as he is but I’m not going to give him a heads up here about them.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      I thought the Lemass documentary was terrible. The usual formulaic documentary style currently used by RTE with repetitive, dramatic music and incongruous shots of the IFSC (ok he laid the groundwork for economic success but that doesn’t require non-stop IFSC action).

      Very little insight into the man, almost no info on background pre-IRA … this was a superficial, rush job in comparison to the jobs on Haughey and Bertie. And surely Lemass deserves more than Haughey/Bertie/Dessie?

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I must admit to having missed the Lemass documentary. I think it was very much Ireland’s loss that he didn’t get his hands on the reins earlier and for longer than he did.

      Lynch was a fierce nice man, and did right on the North but he let the rest of the front bench run about the place like spoilt children on the economy and he more or less paved the way for Haughey despite himself. Lemass earlier and longer would have benefited us all.

    • Peter B says:

      The Irish Senate is clearly in need of reform. As it stands it provides little of value and is undemocratic. I’m not sure what the method of election should be, but unless Senators provide some useful function is there any point?

      It must be galling for the few intelligent Senators having to sit and listen to Donie Cassidy. If this guy is genuine, then he is clearly an idiot and if he is being deliberate with his stupid comments, then he obviously regards the Senate as a farce. Either way, that fact that people like him are being paid to talk rubbish, is a disgrace.

    • Ger K says:

      The comment holding up Gandhi’s achievement as a model we should have followed is somewhat off in my opinion – yes, his non-violent approach did ultimately lead to Indian independence, and yes India is a democracy with one billion people, but the Indian “independence project” led to the partition of the former British territory into not two, but three states, two of which have nuclear capabilities, and have gone to war on numerous occasions since independence, in what compared to Ireland I would wager has been a bloodier, more destructive, and let us not forget still-ongoing conflict

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