The man from Uncle and the boys in blue (shirts, that is)
IT WOULD not be accurate to describe Michael McDowell's political contribution to contemporary political debate as being that of a lighthouse in a bog - brilliant but useless. He is in fact of considerable use and benefit to two classes in particular, those of unionist and/or racist inclination.
This said, it would not be fair to describe McDowell himself as belonging to either category. Despite his television image, formed by a combination of harsh studio lighting glinting on those Himmler-style glasses and the high forehead that puts one in mind of a malevolent mollusc, McDowell is personally one of the pleasantest of men as a dinner or studio companion.
His influence is something else. He is the very epitome of the anti-republican Dublin 4 elitist. After a debate in the Incorporated Law Society one night, he told me with pride that he was a revisionist. Quelle surprise! Much is made of the fact that McDowell is a grandson of Eoin MacNeill, the co-founder of the Gaelic league (with Douglas Hyde) whom the IRB manipulated into also becoming the founder of the Irish Volunteers.