Wigmore August 1985 - Garret Fitzgerald, Ivan Yates
THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has remained conspicuously silent about a number of aspects of the abortive trip to South Africa by the Dunnes Stores strikers.
Firstly, the British Airways flight crew at London airport collaborated with South African officials in trying to prevent the Irish party from boardding the plane. The pilot of the Johannnesburg bound plane could be heard over the intercom announcing to the passengers that the flight had been held up by Irish troublemakers, and that the flight would not take off if this group boarded the plane.
Secondly, while under the watchful eyes of thirty-two armed guards commmanded by a whip wielding colonel in the Johannesburg transit lounge, the group failed to make any contact with the honorary Irish consul there, allthough the one member of the party holding a British passport was allowed access to the British consul.
A Department of Foreign Affairs official did meet the party when they arrived back in Dublin airport. There was no point in his doing this.
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YOUNG IVAN YATES TD, of Wexxford, has been getting quite a bit of publicity lately. Every time you open a newspaper he's giving his precocious opinion on something or other. This brings to mind our favourite Ivan . Yates anecdote.
It was the night that Ivan was first being nominated to run for the Dail. The selection convention, held in a draughty Wexford hall, was attended by Michael Keating and the high point of the evening was when Mick decided that he wouldn't make a speech, he'd just entertain the assembled delegates with a song. If memory serves, it was 'Molly Malone'.
When it came time for Ivan to tell the delegates why they should vote for him he produced a typewritten speech. He had one carbon copy, which he gave to the reporter from the local paper. This reporter asked Ivan if there was ere a chance of a copy. Sure, said the obliging Ivan, and handed over the remaining copy. It was a two-page speech.
Ivan then stood at the microphone and delivered the speech. Did he give the broad bones of it, changed around, added to, as he went along, speaking off the cuff? No, this reporter went breathless with admiration as Ivan gave the speech word for word in line with the typewritten copy. Ivan had memoorised the speech. All the jokes, the serious bits, the condemnation of Fianna Fail, the lot. He must have spent hours learning it. Perhaps he practised in front of a mirror. This is the kind of dedication which gets you places in politics. Or in the Abbey.
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GARRET FITZGERALD HAS been unusually insensitive in his exploitaation of the Live Aid phenomenon. After his appearance on TV, in front of record audiences, the newspapers were told in advance when he was going to the AlB in Donnybrook to deliver the £250,000 cheque, the government donation to the fund. Had he behaved properly,' agreeing the thing privately with Charlie Haughey and then making a joint statement, then the party political element would have been removed from it and we could more readily believe his tale of being moved by the generosity of the Irish people.
The opportunism becomes more obvious when you know that the United Nations recommends that deveeloped countries give 0.7% of their GNP to Third World Development Aid every year. In 1983 and 1984 Ireland gave only 0.22% of GNP, and the alloocation for this year is even lower.
THE CYNICAL USE of crime by vessted interests continues. There was a big hoo-ha when Commissioner Larry Wren announced that there was a 2.6% decrease in serious crime in 1984. Wren had already revealed this several months ago, when the media was using crime to sell newspapers. He was iggnored.
And the figures are next to meanningless. The method of categorising crime and the method of collating figures are wildly out of date, so Wren's figures - while useful as an index of policy activity - are not the best reeflectors of the real level of crime.
However, garda representative boodies, politicians, and the Independent Group of Newspapers have long used such garda statistics to point to the rise in crime and to call for increased garda powers and emergency measures. Their twisted and self-serving logic would now seem to demand that since those figures have fallen they should be calling for an end of such "emerrgency" measures as the Criminal Justice Act. Don't hold your breath.
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A DOCUMENT was recently passed to Wigmore. The document purports to be a copy of an inspection report carried out by Deputy Commissioner Coogan at Corofin Garda Station on May 11 1923. Perhaps some reader can verify this shocking tale. It reads as follows:
Copy of Inspection Minute by Deputy Commissioner Coogan at Coroofin Garda Station on 11th May 1923.
"Visited Station in conjunction with Divisional tour. Sergeant N. Lennon, 231, and Station Party present. When we arrived at Station, the Sergeant sat : glowering at me and refused to call the party to attention. I called the party to attention myself, and Garda o 'Neill tried to rise but fell in to the fireplace. 1 asked the Sergeant to acccount for the state of affairs existing at the Station and he replied in such a manner as would do justice to the worst corner boy in the slums of Lonndon. I searched the premises and found that a seizure of poteen (3 gallons) made on the previous day had now been almost consumed by the station party and 'the barrack servant sat with a baton in her hand, protectting the remainder of it and refused to move. She also had possession of the Station Book'S and records and she reefused to let me read and examine them. In my examination of the Barracks I found that the W.C. was filled with Station records, apparently used by the Station Party on their visits there. I heard a noise coming from the Cell and when I went to investigate I found three young ladies there, from whom I took statements. They complained that when passing the Barracks they were forcibly taken in by Sergeant Lennon, Gardai Bourke and O'Toole for a purpose better imagined than described. In the kitchen of the Station I found Garda Bourke. He caught me by the uniform and would not let me go until I promised to reefund him a fine of £5 imposed on him and have record of same erased. When I returned to the front of the Barracks I found the Sergeant urinating from the front door into the street and he started to argue with me on the foottpath with his person exposed. On leavving the Station I was approached by a local trader who demanded that I make the Station Party pay some of their Mess Debts for the preceding twelve months, now amounting to some £70. The whole situation at
Corofin, Co. Galway, was disgraceful, I returned to Tuam and had all the Station Party suspended immediately. I hope that the Divisional Officer will ensure that these men discharge their local debts before they themselves are discharged from the force."
MERRION ROW IS an' exemplary street. Long have we pondered its exxcellence. It not only houses the best magazine in the land, it has next door the best pub in Dublin. It has Famous Fried Chickens and an Indian restauurant. A peaceful and nutritious deli. You can buy a house (or a shed) from Alexis FitzGerald here. There is a bank down the road to lend you money and an insurance company across the road. There is a nice newsagents and a jewelller's shop. There's a chemist shop if you have a hangover. There is a harddware store if you want to buy a nail or a hammer or a home brew set.
It is a very short street, yet there is all this and more. It is thirty seconds from Stephen's Green, where you can feed the ducks or lie on the grass. You could live a full and rounded life withhout moving a hundred yards from Merrion Row.
Of late, a shadow has been cast on our fair prospect. A premises has opened. The kind of place that adverrtises near the back of In Dublin. The water pressure in the area has dropped and local gossip blames the churning jacuzzis in this premises. This is a "club" of some sort. At all hours of day and night tired businessmen drag their feet wearily down the street, in the door they go. After a short time they emerge with a spring in their step.
We are not old fogeys. We move with the times. But we must join with the letter-writers to the Herald in asking to what has our fair and fruitful country come. Are we so over-working our executives that they must pay large fees for relief from the pressures of trying to get the economy back on its feet? We blame it all on Alan Dukes.
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THE USUAL AVALANCHE of nomiinees for this award has been combed through, sifted and picked over. Eileen Lemass was a front runner for a while, for reasons which we will someday explain. But she already has one of these awards on her mantlepiece and we're nothing if not fair.
Terry Keane got the usual four nominations. However, despite the hype surrounding this woman, our committee, after racking its collecctive brain, could find nothing interessting or noteworthy to say about her.
Christy Moore almost got it, for the song of the Stardust on his new album. It draws together the anger so many felt but couldn't express about the treatment of the survivors and the families of the victims. But Christy will be getting enough awards.
The clear winner is Daphne Griffin.
She was brought to our attention by, of all people, the Evening Herald hacks, who ran a piece on the £104,000 which is needed to preserve the exxterior of St Patrick's Cathedral. Daphne is married to Dean Victor Griffin. She pointed out that "In every other country governments maintain the ex- terior of the national cathedral. Here, they don't have the money, although they do when it comes to silly state visits. "
Well said, madam. Normally we are not overly-eoncerned with the welfare of cathedrals, but it seems to us that Daphne has got her priorities right. Many's the long and peaceful hour many a Dubliner has spent in conntemplation of the exterior of this cathedral. For hundreds of years people have passed by and said things like, "nice yoke, that cathedral." And it is a nice yoke. In recent times millions have been spent allowing Reagan and Herzog scoot in and out, their entourrages bristling with obscene machine guns, their bully boys rerouting traffic and ordering the summary arrest of considerable numbers of our citizens (remember the thirty peace women whom FitzGerald and Noonan had innterned for a weekend). This is not to mention the vast sums spent on sendding Paddy Hillery off to shake hands with kangaroos.
Step forward, Daphne, and take a bow.