Saturday 21 October 2017

President's speech was a step forward for all of us

Mary McAleese's talk to PSNI recruits displayed her fresh thinking, writes John-Paul McCarthy

ALLIES: Mary McAleese and, background, PSNI Chief Matt Baggott at the PSNI graduation ceremony
ALLIES: Mary McAleese and, background, PSNI Chief Matt Baggott at the PSNI graduation ceremony

For those of us who came of political age in the 1990s, there were many heady days to savour. Tony Blair addressed the Dail. In Westminster, David Trimble defended Jack Lynch's legacy against his critics within Fianna Fail. And Bertie Ahern gave a speech telling everyone that irredentism was dead.

However, for sheer dignity and insight, President Mary McAleese's extraordinary speech to the PSNI graduates, last week, tops all of these Kodak moments by a mile.

She paid tribute to the memory of all the RUC officers murdered during the last 30 years, reminding us all again, simply by her presence, that we must discard the vicious stereotypes that have pauperised our understanding of Northern Ireland for so long.

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