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Would it be politically tenable for the Taoiseach to attend an event the President had declined? September 22, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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From the IT late last night…

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he would give consideration to going to a controversial religious ceremony marking the centenary of partition and the foundation of Northern Ireland if an invitation is extended.

And:

“Suffice to say that I certainly respect [President Higgins] position, and I understand where he’s coming from,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned the Government will consider any invitation that comes in. We’ll give that due consideration and make decisions at that time.”

Asked if he would go if invited, Mr Martin replied: “As I said, I’d give it consideration, but we haven’t made any decision in that respect.”

Asked if he had concern over his own attendance given Mr Higgins’s decision, he reiterated that he respected the President’s position.

Would that fly politically? And particularly given the very clear support of an over-whelming majority of the population in polling on the issue? Or would there be a distinction drawn between the President and the Taoiseach? Or is it surprising – for better or for worse – that there’s any such ambivalence in the Taoiseach’s response?

Comments»

1. Wes Ferry - September 22, 2021

The reaction within Fianna Fáil would be interesting. Grist to the mill of his opponents.

Such a move might appeal to his self-perception as a statesman with an eye to sinecures after Leinster House.

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2. NFB - September 22, 2021

I mean, we’d be approaching “thundering disgrace” territory if that were to happen. It would essentially be the head of government rebuking the head of state.

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3. EWI - September 22, 2021

It would and should be extraordinary for a sitting Taoiseach to make such a clearly-implied rebuke to a President, but Michéal Martin is very much at home with the Irish Times and with the deeply controversial revisionist view of Irish history.

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4. sonofstan - September 22, 2021

It would be really stupid. Leave it alone and it’ll be forgotten in a few weeks, go, and you’ve the makings of a constitutional crisis.

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5. brianlynch731 - September 22, 2021

No progressive person would attend such an event.

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6. irishelectionliterature - September 22, 2021

Michéal Martin should steer well clear of it. Would cause uproar in FF if he did attend…. as well as a silly rebuke for President Higgins.
I think people trust The Presidents judgement on this particular event.

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7. 6to5against - September 22, 2021

I’d read his comments there as being: ‘we’ll pretend to look at this if invited, so as not to leave ourselves open to accusations of bigotry, but there’s no way we’re going. And we really hope not to be asked.’
He’s surely to savvy to be even thinking about this?

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Tomboktu - September 22, 2021

Micheál Martin could send his aide de camp to represent him … like he does for important, eh, funerals that he can’t attend in person.

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Wes Ferry - September 22, 2021

Sending the Taoiseach’s aide de camp would be seen as particularly gutless and likely to receive some blowback from the Defence Forces for putting a military officer in such a position when the Taoiseach doesn’t have the balls to go himself.

Would also emphasise the absence of both the President and the Taoiseach and portrayed by the John Bruton brigade as a further snub to Queen Elizabeth.

Don’t see it happening.

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Tomboktu - September 22, 2021

I was joking – funeral and all. (A tad subtle, that dig at the life left in NI I suppose.)

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Wes Ferry - September 22, 2021

🤦🏻‍♂️ Doh! I wouldn’t put it past Micheál Martin though. 😉

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8. 6to5against - September 22, 2021

another question is will any TDs attend in a private capacity, if asked. I’d say there’d be one or two who would relish the controversy. Richard Bruton would be an interesting one. He hasn’t shown his brothers taste for controversy on this sort of issue, but he obviously comes from a similar background – and now that his career has peaked, would he be tempted?
What about some other FG backbenchers?

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EWI - September 22, 2021

What about some other FG backbenchers?

Would not surprise me: Frank Feighan, Neale Richmond, Craughan. I’m sure the inevitably reverential IT reporting will let us know.

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sonofstan - September 22, 2021

“the inevitably reverential IT reporting”

The forelock won’t tug itself! (I stole that…)

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Wes Ferry - September 22, 2021

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell (former FG and ex-sergeant in Irish Army) is gagging to go.

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EWI - September 22, 2021

Craughwell, not Craughan, my apologies. And you miss that he’s also an ex-British squaddie.

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9. roddy - September 22, 2021

Heather Humphries said she would go if asked.

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10. Jim Monaghan - September 22, 2021

The DUP withdraw from various committees which would deal with current problems. Surely this should be more important from a pragmatic point of view. Yet it is never, at least I didn’t hear it, mentioned in the context of the above.

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EWI - September 22, 2021

Yet it is never, at least I didn’t hear it, mentioned in the context of the above.

That the Dublin political and media elites aggressively don’t want to hear about or deal with such things is telling.

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11. oliverbohs - September 22, 2021

If a couple of one hit wonder acts from the 80s/90s could be persuaded to go then so could Leo Varadkar

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12. Wes Ferry - September 22, 2021

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WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2021

Very good column by him. Do you know where the detail about illuminated castles etc comes from. Irish media columnists being very quiet about that afaik

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terrymdunne - September 23, 2021

Feeney: “They [Unionists] crave legitimacy for this colonial rump, a legitimacy which can only be given by Irish people and which therefore will never be forthcoming”

The implication there is Unionists are outside of “Irish people”, is this fella a two-nationist?

In any case they don’t want legitimacy from “Irish people” – capital U unionism – political unionism – especially in its most hardline varieties – is happiest when it is in conflict with the Papist hordes – that’s why there is a DUP song & dance about the event in Armagh cathedral, why it wanted a hard border, didn’t want the peace process, why under Stormont there was a govt. system of discrimination etc… For instance the DUP only really got going in the context of the Troubles and before that Paisley’s big outings were an episode against people on the Falls flying a flag (guess what not the Union one), opposition to ecumenism, and opposition to Lemass-O’Neill talks.

Also the analogy between “a cathedral of the Anglican religion forced on Ireland” & “the forced partition of Ireland”. Seriously?

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EWI - September 23, 2021

Do you know where the detail about illuminated castles etc comes from. Irish media columnists being very quiet about that afaik

I think Justine McCarthy reported this at the weekend? Paints a very different light to the ‘ecumenical ceremony’ the same day

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Wes Ferry - September 23, 2021

BBC News NI’s Mark Simpson reported back in March (I had to search that out myself): “On the same day as the international church service, some historic buildings across the UK are set be lit up.”

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13. WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2021

I didn’t read his first point in that way, I thought it was more that the Irish people as a whole won’t legitimise the partition of the island, not that unionists are not a part of the Irish people -no more than the Irish people would legitimise a secession by Kerry. But I think he does have a point that some within unionism do seek legitimacy from the Irish people, in the sense of an acceptance or acquiescence to partition and the union (though one could argue that by the Irish people in that definition they mean the Irish people who happen to live in the South). Or another way of looking at it is they in essence want the Irish people or the South to sort of conceptually to go away. I’ve always been struck by the road networks in Northern Ireland which curved around and away from the border as one leaves Belfast, almost ignoring the reality of the island beyond (in fact you’ll find maps from Government publications of the NI government from the 30s onwards which delineate NI as a single entity with barely a couple of lines to indicate that they are on an island at all. That’s an interesting if in ways understandable psychology at work there).

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terrymdunne - September 23, 2021

Yeah maybe it means “the Irish people” as opposed to “Irish people” – given the fact the same article is talking about the Church of Ireland as an imposition on Ireland akin to partition I’m calling it two-nationism.

Seeking legitimacy from and wishing out of conceptual existence are two completely different things. The road network still has that going on – the motorway out of Belfast leads ultimately to North Armagh – it is dual carriageway to Dublin. I am not sure why we would deny the people of Kerry their freedom?

Doubtless there are some Alliance party-types or the sorts that people ecumenical committees that would like to win consent from “the other tradition” for Northern Ireland – I am not sure why we on the left would see them as particularly problematic – as opposed to the UUP, TUV and DUP whose idea of north-south relations (or Protestant-Catholic relations) is ford the river with superior firepower.

There is a political/electoral competition in the Six Counties within the respective communities – not between them as such – which is what an awful lot of this is about.

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WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2021

“Seeking legitimacy from and wishing out of conceptual existence are two completely different things.”

They are, but not necessarily sequentially. For example, if the South gave its blessings to Northern Ireland then one could easily imagine Unionism being happy to get that and then being in a position to essentially forget or ignore the South to as great a degree as possible. In a sense, though not quite the same, a not dissimilar process occurred in the 1920s when the Free State had to de facto recognise the reality of NI and NI pocketed that and promptly set up the state in such a way as to largely ignore the reality of the Free State. Of course the GFA/BA does make that ignoring the South more difficult but look at the far from splendid history of the NSMC or other cross border aspects of the GFA/BA and it seems to me that in some ways the DUP in particular have done a far from terrible job, by their lights, of ignoring those elements as much as is possible.

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terrymdunne - September 26, 2021

Recognising the reality of the Northern Ireland statelet and consenting to its existence are two completely different things.

If the governments of that statelet – i.e. in the Stormont period – ever asked for, or required, the consent of the Free State (or of the Six-Counties minority) it has passed me by (if anything normal relations would have opened up political threats to the Official Unionists from both right and left). Was there any high-level inter-governmental relations before Lemass & O’Neill? Like the relations between Northern Ireland and the Free State started with gunfire – they had their victory in that regard to pocket.

For a lot of the last 100 years political elites in the South have been staunchly anti-partitionist – in theory – this started to change in the 1970s when the prospect of partition actually ending in real-time opened up. As late as the 1980s you would have had Haughey railing against the failed political entity.

It is not like it is the DUP that invited Higgins to the event in Armagh – it is an ecumenical religious body that represents the four main Christian churches – I mean can you even call that unionism? In so far as there is a unionist strand to it that must be the softest of soft variety.

Michael D. was right to not accept the invitation to the Armagh event, but he wasn’t sticking it to the unionists by not accepting the invitation, not at all. It is just the usual performative outrage on the part of Jeffrey et. al. – I am sure he welcomed the opportunity.

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EWI - September 26, 2021

If the governments of that statelet – i.e. in the Stormont period – ever asked for, or required, the consent of the Free State (or of the Six-Counties minority) it has passed me by

I am certain that I read somewhere, once, that the permission of De Valera was needed for Allied naval operations involving NI (because of the Treaty). The 1937 Constitution was a masterclass in using metaphysics to thread the needle of ‘Ireland’, and some of the problems created for Article One by the removal of Articles Two and Three have cropped up elsewhere in this fake controversy.

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WorldbyStorm - September 26, 2021

“Michael D. was right to not accept the invitation to the Armagh event, but he wasn’t sticking it to the unionists by not accepting the invitation, not at all.”

Agreed. And I also agree that recognition and consent are two different things.

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14. pangurbán - September 26, 2021

britain got permission for an air corridor over sligo / donegal in ww2 to allow raf flying boats based in lough erne to combat. u boats in the north atlantic. RN also had a trawler based in killybegs for rescue work

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WorldbyStorm - September 26, 2021

Radio Éireann also did something to its broadcasts to prevent them being used as direction finders by the Germans, at the request of the British as far as I am aware.

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Tomboktu - September 26, 2021
terrymdunne - September 26, 2021

Those are London to Dublin relations – the East-West dimension – yeah tons and tons of those after the establishment of the Irish Free State, I mean the North-South dimension, Belfast to Dublin, Stormont to Leinster House. They must have had some level of relations, but it was pretty cold – like there were joint bodies for some waterways if I remember right? But no high-level government meetings, F.F., and later all parties, had a campaign against partition in the late 40s, early 50s, the Border Campaign was tolerated under the coalition govt., and like yeah sure this is perhaps rhetorical stances but check out an earlier President – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/14/ireland

I am not trying to go over the top with it here – just think it is important to remember some of these earlier contexts – different as they are from the more recent decades of John Bruton-ism.

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