Mary McAleese’s memoir
Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter refers to critics of Mary McAleese’s 1997 presidential bid, “especially journalist Eoghan Harris, whom she rightly describes as ‘gratuitously vitriolic’ in his criticisms of her” (“Mary McAleese’s memoir: Fascinating, but not the full story”, Culture, September 26th).
A less partisan historian would have avoided the pious adjective “rightly” and provided balancing historical context.
First, my calling Mrs McAleese “a tribal time bomb” was not “vitriolic” but a robust reaction to her reported remarks in 1997, when the IRA was not on ceasefire, to a reliable official of the Department of Foreign Affairs, that she, Mrs McAleese, was “very pleased with Sinn Féin’s performance in the general election”.
Second, my apology for the tribal charge was perhaps premature, given that in 2005, speaking on Morning Ireland, Mrs McAleese seemed to compare unionists to Nazis. Although she apologised, David Ervine noted that, “the damage is massive and the questions are massive”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In his review of Mary McAleese’s autobiography, Prof Diarmaid Ferriter did not go to the trouble of identifying the Workers’ Party as the political home of her tormentors in RTÉ.
Your readers will be forgiven for not being familiar with the nickname of that party’s adherents, “Stickies”. – Yours, etc,