Diplomacy and male-only organisations


Sir, – Diplomats, like doctors, must surely be bound by the requirement to “Do no harm”. In their relationships with male-only fraternal organisations of the Irish diaspora, the imperative must surely be to preserve goodwill and increase support for Ireland’s international aims.

Where, however, these organisations purport to be representative of the Irish community as a whole, where they seek such status, or where their activities go beyond the purely social to embrace areas where women have a natural and equal interest and contribution and where their exclusion is or might be considered malign, a truly diplomatic issue arises.

But even if the diplomat were to make a point by rejecting a bona fide invitation, women still have to want to be involved in what are often relatively staid and uninfluential bodies in order for that action to be more than symbolic.

Where women have decided that such bodies are worthy of their membership, either on principle or for sound philosophical or cultural reasons, then a diplomatic refusal to engage might indeed be the appropriate response. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Donal Denham writes in support of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick (Letters, December 9th) and makes two points. First that it has fundraised for charity over the years, and second, that there are other male-only organisations in existence in the United States with very prominent members.

What he fails to address in his letter, however, is the basis or justification for the Society of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick to exclude females from membership. A quick name change to the “Society of the Friends of St Patrick” would solve the dilemma in an instant, unless there is some overriding impediment to female participation? – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.