Wigmore, Christmas 1984: The pope, PJ Mara, Maureen Cairnduff and John Rogers
WHY didn't the Pope appoint a radical feminist as Archbishop of Dublin? Has he no regard for the views and sensitivities of the trendy element? Doesn't he understand that things have changed in this country and that the ultra-liberal faction - heavily represennted among Dublin journalists - now expects to have its interests and deeclared preferences taken seriously into account in such appointments?
The Pope went and appointed an orthodox Catholic - bloody cheek! àand posses of outraged progressives have been galloping across the columns of newspapers and magazines ever since. A Professor P.J. McGrath - a name which rings a distantly discorrdant bell - has complained that Dr McNamara is "committed to a fixed set of ideas". This "fixed set of ideas" is, of course, the traditional teachings of the Roman Catholic church. A dead liberty appointing a guy with beliefs like that as Archbishop, eh?
Some other sensitive soul has lamented that non-Catholics will find Dr McNamara's views on a wide range of issues "uncongenial". Now there's a shocking thing. Catholic Archbishop has views with which non-Catholics disagree. Shouldn't be allowed, should it?
My esteemed friend, Ireland's most popular feminist, has suggested in In Dublin that on the day Dr McNamara is installed women from all over the land should gather outside the ProoCathedral and munch fistfuls of contraaceptive pills as a protest against the fact that Dr McNamara "has set his face and his organisation against women's control of their own fertility". There would be no need for such a demo, of course, if His Holiness had selected a man who says mass wearing a "woman's right to choose" badge on his chasuble.
What ails all these folk is that the man who is going to be the boss of the Catholic church in Dublin takes Cathoolic teaching seriously - unlike the class of trendy cleric who signals his radiicalism by arguing that Jesus was a fun-loving guerilla and wearing his pioneer pin in his ear. Dr McNamara is implacably opposed to, for example, divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality. His arrival in Dublin will have the welcome effect of making it markedly more difficult for the trendy element to oppose these teachhings of the Catholic church while simultaneously declining to oppose the Catholic church itself. He threatens to deprive them of that intellectual luxury. Which is why they are yelping.
* * *
NOW _ that I've thought the matter through I realise that what the Pope should really have done is appoint a Protestant as Archbishop of Dublin.
* * *
THE scene is the fifth floor of Leinster House, Fianna Fail press office, just up the corridor from The Leader's Room. The time, significantly, is round about lOam, Thursday 29 November. In the Fianna Fail press office stands dapperly dressed and urbanely witty P.J. Mara, sweating. He has just seen this mornning's Hot Press, which features the great John Waters in with The Leader, in the course of which conversation The Leader uses one "Jazus", one "Jesus Christ", seven "fucks ", and three "shits". It is the most effective and perfectly-pitched interview given by an Irish politician for aeons but Mara, who set the gig up, can't be certain The Leader will see it like that.
Enter stage left Brian Lenihan. He hasn't read the interview but Mara is not about to be put off by that. An urgent, whispered exchange and Leniihan bounces into The Leader's Room babbling euphoric congratulations : marrvellous interview in the Hot Press, tremendously effective, younger eleement only agog ... And exit.
Five minutes later enter P.J. saunntering, unconcerned, mentions, casual like, that the Hot Press interview seems to have gone down pretty well ....
And The Leader agrees, yes, appears to have gone well, quite well, really, yes ....
It must be for love P.J. does it. Sure money wouldn't pay him.
* * *
SO Maureen Cairnduff might go to prison for feloniously reproducing the Official Harp on the cover of her offensive, silly and inaccurate book. If it's the only thing they can get her on, fair enough. I think everybody who appears in the book should be considered an accessory and jailed with her. Locking the lot of them up would take out of circulation practiically every person responsible for the
pain and misery and hopelessness which characterises the daily lives of countless thousands of Irish people. They could be locked up for good without a penny's cost to the State. Thousands of people would volunteer to build a prison camp for them for no pay and volunteer guards from the ranks of the unemployed would see to it that none escaped alive.
Put in prison with them should be anyone not mentioned in the book but who participated in any way with the "launch" of the book at the Irish Embassy in London. The expenditure of tax-payers money on publicising this book is a scandal and a damnable disgrace. Who authorised it? Would it have been authorised if Mrs Cairnduff wasn't hugger-mugger with the likes of the Hussey woman and John "such an entertaining conversationalist" Kelly?
Not that this is a specifically Fine Gael class of chicanery. When Joe Ambrose's friend Noelle CampbelllSharpe launched Success magazine a few years back, the PR puff was written by a civil servant, typed and printed at tax-payers' expense and dispatched by government courier to journalists, broadcasters and ad-persons allover Dublin, the entire operation (which would have cost Ms Sharpe a couple of grand to organise on her own - having been sanctioned by then-Minister Albert Reynolds.
Everybody involved in that scam should be in the slammer too.
These light-minded libertarians who complain that there are too many people in Irish prisons and campaign for non-custodial.sentences have got it all wrong. It's not that there's too many people in our jails. It's that they're the wrong people.
We were told about the great job the Irish Air Corp did for the EEC summit, ferrying in that honest, forthright and logical (if somewhat murderous) member of The A Team, Mrs T. No one mentioned that it was in fact the RAF which got that particular job, as can be seen from the above photo. Since her noisy experience in Brighton Mrs T. is said to have become a little bit paranoid about personal security. Could it be that she's so far gone that she didn't trust a paddy helicopter to whisk her to the Castle? Shouldn't someone be getting all hot and bothered about this slight to the national air force?
WHO was the last EEC Commissioner for Competition?
Take your time. Think about it. No? Tell me this then. Did you even know that there was an EEC Commissioner for Competition before you read in last Sunday's papers about a new one being appointed? Honestly now.
Neither did 1.
And yet all of a sudden, overnight, in a flash and a veritable twinkling, we are instructed that the EEC Commisssioner for Competition is a fantastically important person upon whose words and whims hangs the fate of us all.
Competition is a "first rank portfolio" according to the Sunday Indo. The Press agreed: "a 'first-rank' porttfolio". Daringly different as always, the trail-blazing Trib opted for "front rank" portfolio.
Funny the way they all settled on sound-alike phrases ....
The Indo elaborated: "The Attorney General" (that's Peter Sutherland, the plump Fine Gael lawyer who has lannded this fabulously well-paid number) "had spent much of the last three months laying the European grounddwork to secure the Competition posting. He had met all his future Commissioner colleagues personally and made a strong impression on new President-
elect, Jacques Delors."
While you are trying to work out how on earth the journalist who wrote that could have known what sort of impression Sutherland had made on Delors, consider this from the Trib :
"It is believed that Mr Sutherland has had informal meetings with all of the incoming commissioners in (the last six weeks) and has forged a particularly close relationship with commission president Jacques Delors."
Now ain't that something else? Or rather, ain't it something almost exactly the same?
I wonder now is there anything else Mr Sutherland would like us to believe about his job in Brussels, and is there ~
any chance I could get an exclusive on it?
* * *
I'M sorry to have to announce that Haughey's Libyan meat deal is noowhere near as secure as the propaganda suggested. Jim Hand tells me that during his stay in Tripoli Mr Haughey gave the EI Kabir, where the Fianna Fail vote-gatherers stayed, a present of two cassette tapes to play on their muzak system. These were Phil Coullter's "Sea of Tranquility" and "Classiical Tranquility". The Libyans are very cultured and sensitive people. The consequences could be dire.
Man Of The Month - John Rogers
PROP this up against the breakfast butter dish this morning, John Rogers, your hour has come round at last.
You are Wigmore's Man of the Month.
Mr Rogers is a man of whom it has often been said: "Who?" But not for much longer. All the usually reliable sources around Leinster House are adamant that Mr Rogers is set to replace "Bunter" Sutherland at the cabinet table as Attorney General.
But it is not for this alone that he lands the passionately pleaded-for Wiggmore accolade. Rather it is that in the process of becoming AG-designate Mr Rogers has caused the Irish Labour Party at last to stand up straight for socialism and to face down the blanndishments and bully-boy belligerence of bourgeois Fine Gael.
Party leader Dick Spring had let it be known that Labour had a bottom line beneath which it would not sink, that there were certain principles in defence of which Labour would not hesitate to pull the plug on coalition government. Many have wondered during the past two years just what these principles might be and where exactly - or even where approximately - the bottom line might be drawn. Clearly, the breaking point did not have to do with unemployment, which has been rising as inexorably as Mr Haughey's rating in the opinion polls. Nor did it have to do with defennding the living standards of working people: witness Labour backing for the public sector pay edict of Alan Dukes. It was not a matter of Labour support for the Health Service: Mr B. Desmond has been supporting the Health Service in the sense in which a rope supports a hanging man. Nor yet did it refer to concern for the rights and civil liberties of the plain person:
Government-side dissent from the dissgraceful Criminal Justice Bill came mainly from Fine Gael deputies and senators.
On none of these issues did Labour policy lead to serious inter-party strife within the Coalition or to any element of rancour in the personal relationship between Mr Spring and Dr FitzGerald. But in the past fortnight persons close to Mr Spring have been quietly adverrtising the fact that old Dick sure dug his heels in on this one, better believe it, laid it right on the line to Garret so he did, wanted a Labour man as AG and was going to get one, true bill, no messing, told him straight, Dick's no dozer at throwing the weight round when it's needed, nosiree!
On top of which Mr John Rogers is a close friend of Dick's from college days at TCD.
The issue the leader of Labour was willing to go to the brink on was a plum State job for an old school pal.
But that's not the point at all. The point is that at long last Labour has found an issue on which it can differenntiate itself from Fine Gael, thus to assert its distinctive existence and poliitical philosophy and, er, it's obvious Mr John Rogers is somehow responsible for this dramatic and unexpected turn of events. Let's hear it for the man who rediscovered the soul of Irish socialism, pristine paragon of proleetarian orthodoxy and Wigmore Man of the Month - JOHNNIE ROGERS!
(Didn't there used to be a country and western singer called that?)