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Offensive attack on Moneygall

Not for the first time your columnist Ian O'Doherty ('A proud day for Ireland', Irish Independent, October 12) has seen fit to launch a gratuitous and highly offensive attack on the people of Moneygall.

In his column he reflects on the mixed response to the award of the Nobel Peace prize to President Barack Obama. Like many he is highly cynical about this admittedly premature award and even as a huge admirer of Mr Obama I would have a sympathy with this view. It may well have been better to wait until his politics of change bore demonstrable fruit. Although one could also point out that the gestures he has already made towards former 'enemies' of the US mark a sea change in America's relationship to the world.

However, Mr O'Doherty declares this is not the real point and he goes on to say that "(the award) is great news for the witless simpletons of Moneygall who seem insistent on claiming Obama as one of their own".

He also speculates on a "re-release of the emetic 'There's No One As Irish As Obama' and street parties from the proles down there trying to bask in some distantly reflected glory".

To describe anyone, never mind a whole community, as 'witless simpletons' is cheap, nasty, lazy and trashy journalism and not something I would have associated with one of the quality national papers on this island.

On what basis does Mr O'Doherty spew out such bile? There is no denying that the people of Moneygall, and indeed Co Offaly in general, are very proud of their real and proven historical link with Mr Obama.

At a time in our history when there is so much bad news is there anything wrong in celebrating an individual who has inspired people the world over to believe that there can be a better tomorrow?

As one of the party from Moneygall who had the privilege of attending the inauguration I will never forget the spontaneous joy and hope that was so evident in Washington on that historic day. I fail to understand why the people of Moneygall should have to apologise for celebrating this.

It might surprise Mr O'Doherty that the US administration are treating the Moneygall link very seriously indeed. The previous acting ambassador Robert Foucher has already visited the village and only last month a senior member of the embassy staff visited the village to draw up an outline plan and itinerary for a future presidential visit. I cannot imagine that this would have happened without the approval of the president himself.

Rev'd Canon Stephen Neill
(Church of Ireland Rector of Moneygall)

Irish Independent