Friday 9 December 2016

The difficulty with donkeys and minarets

Published 06/02/2012 | 05:00

THE late Conor Cruise O'Brien liked to quote a Middle Eastern joke about getting a donkey down from a minaret. There is no dignified way of conducting such an operation. The same is true of countless incidents in international relations, solved by smooth behind-scenes work and ended with bland denials that the donkey ever existed.

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In the matter of Ireland's current difficult relations with the Holy See, the donkey remains in full view on the minaret -- or rather the bell-tower -- and cannot be removed without somebody looking awkward and foolish.

Here is where the diplomats come in, or should come in. But the diplomats themselves are at the centre of this unfortunate affair.

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