Ruth Dudley Edwards: 'Who makes my list of people to be banished from Ireland this year?'
To get 2019 off to a good start we need to expel some of the worst sinners of 2018, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
It's time for my annual cathartic purge of people who should be removed from the country. And what better place to start looking for deportees than back in my alma mater, University College Dublin, starting at the top with the president, Professor Andrew J Deeks.
Prof Deeks is one of a roving band of international academic-administrators, being an Australian who took up the UCD job five years ago after a period in Durham University as a pro-vice-chancellor where he "led the development of the university's global presence strategy and extensive international partnerships, particularly in China and Brazil".
Since his preceding job as head of the Engineering School of the University of Western Australia had been focused on developing international programmes, especially with China, you can see why he appeared very attractive to UCD, which hosts an ever-expanding Confucius Institute, which is partially financed by the Chinese government but is costing UCD and the Irish taxpayer millions.
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As the project overruns, President Deeks is rattling the begging bowl. He featured the Confucius Institute on the cover of his annual report at a time when some of its counterparts in the US, Canada and Europe are being closed and a debate continues as to whether the institute is a positive or negative presence on campuses. In the US, Senator Marco Rubio has been among lawmakers alleging that the institute is an effort by China to expand its political influence abroad.
And Prof Deeks is doing that at a time when he has put two fingers up to the very soul of UCD by closing down its 47-year-old member-run common room - the only place in Belfield where staff (present and retired), research students and visitors across the disciplines could discuss, laugh, argue and socialise together informally. President Deeks thought it ''shabby chic" and is replacing it with a club for visiting dignitaries, corporate member events and "fine dining", which has been nicknamed "Mar-a-Lago".
So I'm sending Prof Deeks off in a slow boat to China, accompanied by those members of the UCD Governing Body who have failed to fight for the common room or to query what is going on with UCD and China. They can take with them similar sinners in University College Cork as well as Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education, who should be tackling this key issue rather than indulging in her own form of autocracy by announcing her intention to create female-only professorial posts in universities and institutes of technologies.
Getting rid of her will save the Government a fortune in legal fees as the men and the self-identified transsexuals line up to claim discrimination.
We really are drawn towards autocracy in Ireland, hence the obeisance paid by our presidents and ministers to leaders of the Islamic Cultural Centre - aka the Clonskeagh Mosque - which was built and is funded by the Al Maktoum Foundation of Dubai, a kingdom notorious for its breaches of human rights, including harsh restrictions on freedom of speech. Complaints about it from other Muslim groups are ignored. Last year I chucked out Dr Ali Selim - spokesman for the ICC. This time I'm sending Dr Selim to Dubai along with his patron, the Imam, Sheikh Hussein Halawa.
And I'm sending with them Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, whose obsessive pursuit of the status symbol that is a place on the United Nations Security Council and his canvassing for votes seems to have blinded him to the murderous and escalating persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East. As Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic pointed out, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has been the only major politician to protest about the treatment of Christians, especially Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman who needs asylum after eight years in jail on nonsensical blasphemy charges: she is in hiding since her release to escape being lynched.
What does it say about us as a nation when our Government is more interested in a UN bauble than in making a stand for endangered minorities?
Ireland's loss of interest in Christianity has been matched by its rising anti-Semitism, which has shamefully led us to be regarded as the most anti-Israel country in Europe. This was symbolised by the passing in the Seanad of Frances Black's Occupied Territories Bill, which aims to ban the importation of Israeli goods from Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
For those who are not up to speed on Ms Black, she's the independent senator who sang Raglan Road at the funeral of that famous mass murderer Martin McGuinness and she's known for her enthusiasm for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
That Fianna Fail members were instructed to back this bill would be enough for me in normal circumstances to exile their leader, but since Micheal Martin scores so highly above An Taoiseach on the Northern Irish front at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations, he gets a reprieve. I'll send off Terry Leyden, though, as a symbol, because in the debate he had the wit to support the Fine Gael position that standing out against other European countries on this issue was foolish, but then caved in to the Palestinian lobby.
He can go off in a ship captained by a singing Senator Black. Their destination will be an Israeli town - possibly Ashkelon - where the inhabitants have only seconds to get to safety when rockets are fired from Gaza, and who live in fear of a mass incursion of young men from Gaza who have been brainwashed by Hamas into blind hatred of Jews and are desperate to kill them. See how they enjoy that.
There are plenty more candidates, with Deputy Kate O'Connell of Fine Gael probably at the top for her obscene triumphalism over the legalisation of abortion culminating in the memorable rant: "We won. We'll get our way... Ye can talk for as long as ye like...Ye lost. And it must be hurting. But we"ll get our way in the end."
I'll send her to a desert island with ex-President Mary McAleese in the hope that they'll bore each other out of anti-Catholic posturing. Let the deportations commence.