Journalists

Saturday 17 November 2018

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Former first lady Barbara Bush. Photo: Getty Images

Not for nothing was Barbara Bush known as 'The Enforcer' 

Barbara Bush, tougher than her husband and known to her family as 'The Enforcer', is probably the most popular of all ex-US first ladies of recent times. Jackie Kennedy is remembered across the globe for elegance and tragedy, but she was not loved. Rosalynn Carter worked hard and was a noted campaigner on issues of mental health, but she has suffered in retrospect because of her bitterness at his defeat by Ronald Reagan, who is widely perceived to have been as great a success as Carter was a failure. The brittle Nancy Reagan was an essential support to her husband, but was...

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Leo Varadkar (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A bad time to border on hysteria 

What on earth is going on with Leo Varadkar? Is he trying to appeal to Sinn Fein voters by making a bogus fuss about the Border and becoming a bete noire of The Sun, which calls him a bigmouth, a fool and 'Liability Leo'. What propelled his lunatic suggestion that British planes might be banned from Irish skies, despite freedoms of the air being guaranteed not by the EU but by a multilateral international treaty? Is he being controlled by Brussels Central? Or is it something deeper?

Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Ruth Dudley Edwards: The voters must choose decency or barbarism 

Last Thursday, Dr Colum McCaffrey who taught Political Communication for 20 years in UCD, blogged about media partiality during the referendum campaign for Mary Lou McDonald as a Yes spokesperson. "Over the past few weeks journalists and programme producers - especially at RTE - time and again selected her." Although he thought she did it very well and he agreed with her arguments, he could see nothing in what she said that could not have been said by many others.

Mary Lou McDonald approaching the bench during priority questions Photo: Screengrab from Oireachtas TV

Defenders of democracy must now unite against extremes of Sinn Fein 

So what was the Taoiseach playing at when he said in the Dail last week that Mary Lou McDonald reminded him of Marine Le Pen in her addiction to a script? Actually, though I'm no fan of her politics, I think Ms Le Pen should complain about being mentioned in the same breath as Mary Lou McDonald. After all, Le Pen showed commendable independence by standing up to her father; by contrast "I-believe-Gerry" McDonald is notoriously slavish towards her father figure/scriptwriter.

Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney said the scale and severity of humanitarian crises globally is overwhelming.. Photo: Collins Photos

Policy on the hoof and a dead horse strategy 

Senator Padraig O Ceidigh - a fluent Irish speaker whose many entrepreneurial accomplishments include founding Aer Arann - last week described the Government's Irish language strategy as a dead horse and recommended dismounting. This came not long after Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, a career politician, threw his weight behind Sinn Fein's demand for an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland that would be - in terms of the good it would do the language - a very expensive dead foal.

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photo: PA

If you can't kill Unionists, traduce and demoralise them 

Last week, attention should have been focused on Sinn Fein's wrecking of the Executive, the SDLP's and DUP's concern about the astonishing and suspicious rise in proxy votes in six nationalist/republican areas, the mysterious large donation made to DUP at the time of the Brexit referendum, and various other grown-up issues. Instead with what turned into 'Blondegate', with the unwitting help of the Sunday Independent Sinn Fein has had another hit in its long-running 'Winding-up- the-Prods' strategy.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Adams: Should he stay or should he go? 

There's no point in applying normal criteria either to the politician Gerry Adams or the quasi political party he's been leading for 33 years. I'm as guilty as anyone of regularly getting steamed up about what he gets away with and lamenting that while normal politicians are often professionally destroyed because of being caught out in minor indiscretions, brazenness, omerta and fear have protected Adams and many of his colleagues from getting their comeuppance.

‘In Arab societies, male self-control is a foreign concept, and women are temptresses
to be hidden from view to save men from sin’

Don't ban the burqa, but restrict where it is worn 

There were happy photographs from Syria last week. In Manbij, just liberated from the putrid embrace of Isil, a young man beamed ecstatically as someone cut off for him the heavy beard required by the Islamist 'style police' and a young woman smiled serenely as she added her hated garment to a bonfire of niqabs. There was nothing happy about the recent past, where - as we were shown in a photograph from an abandoned headquarters of religious police - weapons like chains and pipes were used to beat men and women who committed sartorial sins.

‘Angela Merkel is desperate for her country to atone for its terrible past’. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

EU is no longer the solution - it is the problem 

An interesting development since the UK referendum on the EU has been how anger and insults from Remainers have stiffened the backbone of Leavers. Last week a young friend told me he'd just resigned as a member of the Labour Party because he could no longer stand listening to people who showed nothing but contempt for the working class their party had been founded to represent. I empathised, for I was a Leave voter who was nervous rather than triumphant when my side won, but within a few days the dismissal of us for being old, selfish, bigoted, stupid, uneducated and...

Talk: Sean Mac Diarmada, Kiltyclogher’s most famous son and granduncle of my new friends

Talking has slowly made us better as a people 

Writing of the death of Jo Cox, the sixth sitting MP to be murdered during the last 100 years (and the only one not killed by the IRA), the London Times columnist Danny Finkelstein tried to be positive. He reminded us of the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in 1812 (by, as it happens, an obsessive loner), which caused widespread rejoicing because he was a politician. "It is often said that our political culture is debased and has never been as rude or threatening," he wrote. "The truth is quite different. We have spent the past 200 years slowly evolving a more...

EMPTY-HANDED: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams addressing the media at Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

Taoiseach Adams ... the first 100 days 

What Gerry Adams had hoped for was the pulverising of Labour and Fianna Fail, leaving a weakened Fine Gael in hock to a few dodgy Independents and Sinn Fein as the main opposition party with a good chance of bringing down the Government within 12 months. What he got was victory - courtesy of young anti-establishment voters like those flocking to Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders - through the huge increase in seats for Independents, the death of Labour, collapse of Fine Gael and beaching of Fianna Fail: only Sinn Fein could form a government on March 10.

PASSING THE TEST: Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams. The younger members of Sinn Fein are still required to venerate people with a terrible past, like Nazi collaborator Sean Russell. Photo: Tom Burke

The 1916 dead have left us our Fenian fools and liars 

The front page of the February issue of Sinn Fein's newspaper, An Phoblacht, has the headline "Join the RISING", under which are smiley photos of Martin McGuinness, Pearse Doherty, Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams. Across the bottom of the page is the legend "REVOLUTION 1916", under which a familiar profile of Patrick Pearse dominates the foreground, with behind him small, grey images of the six other signatories of the Irish proclamation.

Glaring at his nemesis: Ted Heath looks at the woman who brought him down as Tory leader, Margaret Thatcher, a happening which led to a 30-year sulk

Ted Heath: A man who didn't fancy anyone 

So the name of Ted Heath, British Prime Minister from 1970-1974, has been added to the list of dead Conservative politicians accused of being paedophiles. The British police, smarting from their appalling failure to protect thousands of children groomed and raped over years in more than two dozen cities and their equally shameful negligence and cowardice with the likes of Jimmy Savile, are in a state of mad, compensatory zealotry and are inviting the entire population to queue up to accuse Heath of abuse. Egged on by the Labour MP Tom Watson, who has achieved tabloid fame...

HAIR APPARENT: Donald Trump and his improbable hair have livened up a dull election campaign no end

Hillary or Jeb? There are other choices to a dynastic succession 

More than 20 American presidents have had ancestral links to Ireland. The vast majority were from among Ulster-Scots frontiersman, which is why nationalists have mostly pretended they didn't exist. When we talk of Irish-America, we mean Catholic nationalist stock and the Democratic Party: no Prods or big 'R' Republicans need apply. We went wild for the Kennedys and we turned up our noses at Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the Bushes despite their Irish heritage.