Tuesday, September 06, 2005


McAleese heads to the Shankill Road

I see President McAleese is due to visit the Shankill Road in Belfast this Thursday.

The president is expected to visit a local primary school and has other engagements in the area.

There is quite a bit of talk about this visit in light of the President's comments in January comparing anti-Catholic sentiments from some Protestants with anti-Semitic attitudes from the Nazis.

Hopefully she will be treated well up in the North but I have to say I find it ridiculous that unionists keep bringing up these comments as a way to berate the President.

She went on to apologise for her remarks shortly afterwards and she went way down in my estimation for doing so. She bottled it. She gave in to people like Paisley, who has said truly vile things about Irish Catholics over the years and she gave in to David Trimble, the guy who branded the Republic a "pathetic, sectarian, mono-ethnic, mono-cultural state" and who when speaking of the Republic said, "If you took away Catholicism and anti-Britishness, the state doesn't have a reason to exist."

These are the people who called on her to apologise and she did in the end. Her comments, which were made following the ceremony commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Auscwitz concentration camp, weren't even sectarian in my view:

"They( Nazis) gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things".

I can recall the vitriol that spewed from the mouths of unionists at the time and the amazing hypocrisy that was in evidence. For evidence of such hypocrisy, listen to these words from Ian Paisley Jnr, son of Dr Paisley:

"So much for bridge-building Mary.

"Her comments are completely irrational and are designed to insult the integrity of the Protestant community and damn an entire generation of Protestant people.

"Her mask as being a healer of divided peoples has slipped. She is spewing out hatred of the Protestant community, whilst accusing those same people of hating Catholics."

Garbage like this just insulted people's intelligence. This is September however and it will be interesting to keep an eye on unionist attitudes over the next few days.

Just one final thought though - I'm sure you all remember how unionists condemned the President after her remarks, do you think unionists have condemned the recent loyalist violence in anywhere near the same way?


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