Drogheda Independent

| 17.6°C Dublin

What Mary McAleese actually said in Turkey

IRELAND'S President Mary McAleese made the remarks about Drogheda's Star and Crescent during a five-day visit to Turkey as the guest of President Abdullah Gül.

During an official meeting ceremony at Çankaya Presidential Palace on Tuesday, President McAleese made a full speech, contained in which was the following:

'Contacts between Ireland and Turkey are not simply a recent tourist phenomenon however.

In the mid-nineteenth century, a million of Ireland's citizens died of starvation. During that Famine, Turkey's then leader Sultan Abdul Majid sent three ships loaded with food to Ireland.

In your state archives, there is a letter of profound thanks for that generosity, signed by a large number of Ireland's public figures and clergy.

The cargo was unloaded in a port called Drogheda and since then at the insistence of the people, the star and crescent of your country forms part of the town's coat of arms.

Those symbols of Turkish kindness are to be found today on the crest of Drogheda's football team – a fitting contemporary link given that football is as much a national passion in Turkey as it is in Ireland.'

Spokeswoman for Mrs McAleese, Sheila Clarke has responded to the furore saying;

' While included in good faith on information supplied, it is now accepted that the reference in the President's remarks to the genesis of the Star and the Crescent on Drogheda's coat of arms and its link to Turkey would not appear to be based on sound historical fact.'