New Wolfe Tone
Published 07/10/2011 | 05:00
•There are a number of reasons why Martin McGuinness is worthy of our admiration; he played a major role in the successful outcome to the peace process in Northern Ireland, he, now, condemns any acts of violence that threaten the stability of that process and he seems to have established cordial personal and working relations with the leaders of a political party to which his very name formerly seemed anathema. Importantly, also, he not only verbally espouses the principles of republicanism as laid down by Wolfe Tone, but has been recognised by at least one leading Presbyterian churchman as having done so in a practical way. For all of these reasons, and probably more, he deserves both our admiration and our support. He is, in his own words, a peacemaker. All of these instances have taken place in a Northern Ireland context, however, and therein lies the rub when his suitability, or otherwise, for the office of president of the Irish Republic is to be considered.
Mr McGuinness's chief claim for suitability for the office, peacemaker, is peripheral to the prerequisites of the office-holder, if indeed, any are essential. Citizens of this State can intermingle in a reasonably civilised manner; they can change political allegiance, religion, social class, even their mind, in a society that respects and tolerates the right of the individual to do so of his/her own free will. As we are not at war, with ourselves or any other state, the need for a peacemaker is, happily, surplus to our requirements.
Much has been said about the so-called 'war' in Northern Ireland, most citizens of the Republic view it as the descent into unnecessary and disgusting brutality.