Friday 24 February 2017

IRA apologists can't preach morality to us

We should not forget the tainted pasts of some of those who now pontificate on corruption, writes Michael McDowell

A few weeks past, a newspaper story caught my eye. A stamp collection was to be sold by Sotheby's in London and it was anticipated that it would realise £4m (€4.6m).

My immediate reflection, like that of most people, was that we live in a very strange world where insignificant pieces of paper designed and used for the most mundane purpose, could, by reason of their rarity, achieve a colossal value in the highly rarefied philatelic market place. All the more so when we consider that stamps are a relatively modern invention, with a history of less than 200 years. While diamonds, gold and fine art also command great prices in rarefied market places, stamps are unusual because they had such a negligible value when first printed and sold.

I then set to wondering what kind of person could amass a stamp collection of such value and noted that the particular stamp collection being sold at Sotheby's was part of the estate of a life peer, Lord Steinberg of Belfast. His family had decided to donate proceeds from the sale to a number of causes and charities with which he had been associated during his lifetime including a fund that he had started with the aim of helping to rebuild Old Trafford, the celebrated Lancashire County Cricket Club grounds.

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