Deaglán de Bréadún
A contributor to Karen Coleman’s programme on Newstalk this morning was lambasting the newspapers for failing to carry the death of the Polish president on their front pages. The Sunday Times was the honourable exception tho’ another paper did have it as the top item in the “Index” and there may have been deadline issues as well.
However, Sadhbh McCarthy’s basic point is undeniable. We are, as a nation, incredibly parochial and provincial. Even the presence of thousands of Poles in our midst fails to awaken the appropriate level of interest in this terrible tragedy.
Your humble scribe met the late President Lech Kaczynski when he was here on an official visit some time back. It is sobering to reflect that many of the members of his delegation on that visit were probably killed in the crash as well.
Happily there are no indications of sabotage. Early reports suggest that the control tower’s advice to land in Minsk instead of Smolensk was not heeded. One wonders why.
The Katyn massacre of 22,000 Polish officers on Stalin’s orders was one of the great war-crimes. I have not yet seen the current film on the subject but apparently it is very powerful. It is salutary to be reminded that Hitler was not the only mass-murderer on the world stage at that time and you will still meet people who are prepared to gloss over and excuse Stalin’s “excesses”.
Despite the difference in size and population, Poland is a country with which we have much in common. Like us, they are predominantly Catholic and have had to deal with the influence of a powerful neighbour – or rather two powerful neighbours in their case, Russia and Germany.
It’s very unfortunate that an event which was intended to cement reconciliation with the Russian people should end in this way. Hopefully it will not damage relations to any significant extent. It is very important for all of us that these two great nations should be on good terms.