'Fawning, offensive and wholly inappropriate' - Fury at President's praise for Castro
Published 27/11/2016 | 02:30
Sharp differences emerged between President Michael D Higgins and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan in their reaction to the death of Fidel Castro.
The President lauded the Cuban leader as "a giant among global leaders", while Mr Flanagan labelled him "a dictator". The President's tribute, in which he expressed "great sadness", was criticised by Independent Senator Ronan Mullen as "fawning, offensive and wholly inappropriate".
Mr Flanagan did not criticise the President but his views on Castro were in stark contrast to those of Mr Higgins. "He was a dictator who presided over a questionable regime with human rights issues," the minister said.
"He was a very divisive figure, embroiled in controversy for most of his career, and there will be very mixed views on his legacy."
President Higgins made no reference to the darker side of Castro's legacy, except for a single, equivocal sentence: "The economic and social reforms introduced were at the price of a restriction of civil society, which brought its critics." He added: "Fidel will be remembered as a giant among global leaders."
According to Amnesty International, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and free movement continue in Cuba. Government critics are subject to "acts of repudiation", while "arbitrary arrests and detentions" are commonplace.
It said the judicial system also remains under political control and journalists and human rights activists were routinely subjected to arbitrary arrest.