Wednesday 18 October 2017

John Paul McCarthy: Shatter spoke for Irish Protestants as well as the Jewish congregation

The justice minister's Holocaust speech showed how 'context' comes from the heart, writes John Paul McCarthy

IN his essay, The Idea of a University, Cardinal Newman observed that "what is spoken cannot outrun the range of the speaker's voice". By this he meant that speaker and sentiment must somehow coalesce to generate affecting rhetoric.

The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, gave a master class in this regard last week with his landmark speech on the Holocaust.

Cutting a chastening swathe through the various arguments about "context", Shatter denounced Irish neutrality as morally bankrupt. Previous Fine Gael politicians have handled the Emergency era fairly roughly as well. Remember that Garret FitzGerald dismissed neutrality as morally inadequate in Ireland in the World (2005), arguing: "I could never regard our decision to opt out of western European defence and to rely for our defence exclusively on a combination of other states in the formulation of whose policy we have no say as being in accordance with our dignity as a state, or with our moral responsibilities."

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