Wednesday, April 16, 2008


President Hillery remembered

Today the people of Ireland have been paying their last respects to former President of Ireland Dr Patrick Hillery, who died this past Saturday aged 84.

Thousands lined the funeral cortege route in Dublin to remember "Paddy" Hillery who served two seven-year presidential terms from 1976 up until 1990.

He was a Minister for Education, Minister for Industry & Commerce, Minister for Labour and Minister for External Affairs. He was also Ireland's first European Commissioner and one of the main negotiators during Ireland's accession to what was then the European Economic Community and now known as the EU.

Typically the tributes for Dr Hillery have been pouring in with outgoing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern saying he was "a man of great integrity, decency and intelligence, who contributed massively to the progress of our country and he is assured of an honoured place in Ireland’s history."

Current President Mary McAleese remarked:

"He was involved in every facet of policy-making that paved the way to a new, modern Ireland. Today, we detect his foresight and pioneering agenda everywhere - a free education system, a dynamic, well-educated people, a successful economy and a thriving membership of the European Union, one of the single most transformative events for this country."

I suppose this kind of language is to be expected on this of all days but I must say my feelings on Dr Hillery are quite different.

To my mind he was not a good President of this country. He was in with Charles Haughey, the national disgrace himself, and part of the rotten Fianna Fáil crowd of the seventies era. While Hillery was not a crooked man like Haughey was, and while he was not as bad as others in his party were, nonetheless he was still part of that ugly scene.

The sad fact of the matter is once Haughey's crowd got their claws into Fianna Fáil that was it for the once great party. It's never been quite the same. It's been riddled by a poison ever since that time. The party's decline began in 1967 and '68 and well, you see the abomination that it is today.

So then I shan't be taken in by the spin that circulates today for Dr Hillery. I offer his family my condolences of course but I won't go down the revisionist road of McAleese and Ahern by proclaiming him something that he was not.


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