Thursday 22 February 2018

John-Paul McCarthy: One man's moral clarity: a shining beacon

Aengus Fanning's deeply held beliefs on Northern Ireland did a great service to the nation, writes John-Paul McCarthy

John-Paul McCarthy

SeAn O'Rourke spoiled an otherwise moving tribute to Aengus Fanning on RTE radio last week when he accused him of vilifying John Hume in 1993.

Like many other young men tramping along the highways of exchange, I owe an enormous debt to Aengus, not least for inviting me to interview Tony Blair in 2010, and I think I can make some small attempt to settle up with him by showing the absurdity of O'Rourke's charge.

Far from constituting some lapse in an otherwise glittering career, Fanning's withering editorials on the Hume-Adams' 'dialogue' in 1993-1994 were landmark contributions to the modernisation of Irish society. In subjecting Hume's embrace of the Provisional IRA to the strictest kind of moral scrutiny, Fanning and Eamon Dunphy had the courage to air publicly a whole series of doubts and ambivalences that successive Taoisigh could only ventilate privately.

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