I don’t like President McAleese – Here’s why.
Firstly, she’s an ultra conservative Catholic who, in the main, represents that world view both religiously and politically. I may be naive but I believe that a president should represent all sections of society.
Secondly, she’s a great admirer of the corrupt politician Charles Haughey. Again it may be naïve but I believe a president should, at least publicly, refrain from defending criminal politicians who have betrayed their country.
Thirdly, President McAleese is one of those people, and there are many in Ireland, who has an amazing ability to ignore reality and live quite happily in cloud cuckoo land.
On the surface this may seem harmless enough but people of influence who live in cloud cuckoo land can seriously distort the truth of an event and thus mislead others about a brutal reality that needs to be met head on if it is not to be repeated.
I speak, of course, about the President’s visit to Messines Ridge in Belgium where the 16th Irish and 36th Ulster divisions fought in an important battle against the Germans in 1917.
Here’s some of what she had to say on the occasion.
“We know they came from different traditions which had very different ambitions, and yet on these fields their different traditions were put to one side. They were human beings who had a common cause and, through each other, they worked for that cause and showed to each other a goodness, a graciousness, a kindness, a love, a cherishing of one another.”
Different traditions put to one side? Human beings with a common cause? Showed each other goodness, graciousness, love and kindness? Jesus wept, where did this woman learn her history?
Here’s the reality: Ireland was on the brink of what would have been a brutal civil war in the summer of 1914. So inevitable was this conflict that when war was declared many thought the announcement was referring to civil war in Ireland.
The brutality and hatred was put on hold when the British promised the Unionists continued union and the Nationalists Home Rule. So they didn’t go off in ‘kindness and love’, they went off with a promise that their respective agenda’s would be met. When those agenda’s weren’t met the brutality and hatred recommenced.
The President did touch on reality when she described as tragic and shameful the manner in which the Republic ignored all those Irishmen who fought in WW1. And this remark brings me back to her place in cloud cuckoo land.
These men were ignored for decades because of a disgraceful lack of leadership, courage and vision in the Republic. A situation largely created by narrow minded ultra conservative Catholics and a body politic that exploited hatred of the British as a means of covering up their own incompetence in constructing a modern and enlightened state.