Wigmore - Garrett Fitzgerald, Fianna Fail and the Dunne kidnapping
THE Government's tough attitude on the Dunne kidnapping, based on the line that Governments never concede to or negotiate with kidnappers, was a load of old codswallop. Which brings us back to Wigmore's old and trusted friend, Patrick "Ghengis" Cooney. At the time of the Herrerna kidnapping in 1975 the Government not alone entered into negotiation with the kiddnappers but actually agreed to a deal in writing. The aeal was discussed in detail at cabinet meetings and agreed to. It was communicated to the kiddnappers via a senior Garda officer at the scene of the seige in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare.
It was on the basis of this agreeement that the seige came to an end. The deal had to do with the nature of the charges that would be brought against Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle and with the sentences they would have to serve.
After the ending of the siege, "Ghengis" Cooney lectured the world press on the importance of Governnments never negotiating or conceding to kidnappers. He denied any deal had been done or any negotiations had taken place -a denial which surprised his cabinet colleagues. It must also have surprised Dr. Herrerna , for he was personally a witness to the deal and in fact the document on which the deal was written and signed was given to him personally by Eddie Gallagher for safe keeping. Dr. Herrema gave evidence of this at the trial of Gallagher and Coyle. Naturally, the Government not alone denied, via "Ghengis", that any deal had been done, but then reeneged on it.
GARRET FitzGerald has only himself to blame for the anxiety which "Ghengis" Cooney's shenanagins have caused the Coalition. "Ghengis" was appointted to the cabinet only because of weakness on Garret's part - perhaps with the sole exception of Charles Haughey, there is nobody else in poliitics of whom Garret has a lesser opinnion. The antics of "Ghengis" over the hanging issue were partly dictated by his closeness to the Garda lobby, which has been baying for the rope to be used for quite some time. It was only when staunch Fine Gael loyalists from around' the country wrote to "Ghengis" and following representaations from Senator Pat Joe Reynolds, that "Ghengis" relented and agreed to support the Government line.
"Ghengis" might have committed self-immolation politically within the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party had it not been for a concerted bleating attack on him by a clique of the new Fine Gael "wets", including lawyers George Bermingham and David Molooney. They issued shrill denunciations of "Ghengis", which almost drove some of the old-timers to his defence.
ANOTHER Fine Gael "wet", Mary O'Flaherty , got her comeuppance at a Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting recently. She started to attack John Bruton and John Boland over the in. crease in the school entry age to fOUI and a half. She was promptly dismisssed by Bruton who refused even to answer her query on the grounds that he was there to answer questions only from backbenchers. Boland savaged her in his well-known gentle drawing room style.
While the bleatings of these Fine Gael "wets" are enough to drive anyybody to distraction, the incident does raise the question: is there anybody in Irish politics who has less influence than Ministers for State? They don't sit at cabinet and they cannot exercise the independence of backbenchers and now, apparently, they cannot even ask a question of a senior minister. It's a small price to pay however for a salary of £22,000 per year and a State car which costs the taxpayer £38,000 per year.
FiANNA FAIL got itself into quite a tangle in the Senate debate on the connstitution. Mick Lanigan of Kilkenny wanted to know why anybody should want to emulate Wolfe Tone, who was in politics for only eight years, was dissmissive of the mass of the Irish people and was anti-Papist. Veteran Michael
Cranich went to enormous lengths in his contribution to undo the damage done to Fianna Fail's identification with the father of Irish republicans. In the course of his speech he manaaged to suggest that Mr. Tone was allmost a daily communicant.
BACK to the Dunne kidnapping.
There have been several kidnappings in the South Armagh area over the last several years. Many done by the Proovisionals and some by the forces of the British Crown, with which our securrity forces are in such happy colloboraation along the border. Most of these kidnap pings have resulted in the killing of the kidnap victims, usually in quite horrific circumstances. Yet in none of these circumstances have there been massive security operations. On the scale of that mounted when Bernard Dunne was abducted.
Leaders of the Church and State for the most part ignored the plight of these victims and of course there was almost no media interest or coverage. When Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and bitter foe of the Irish Republic was "executed" by the IRA in June 1922, Eamon de Valera said: "the killling of a human being is an awful act, just as awful when the victim is the humble worker or peasant, unknown outside his own immediate neighbourrhood, as when the victim is placed in the seats of the mighty and his name is known in every corner of the earth. It is characteristic of our hypocritical civilisation that it is in the latter case only we are expected to carry out and express our horror and condemnation." 'Nuff said!