6 November 1997 Edition
Fr Ted does evoke strong reactions within Ireland. Those distressed by it probably recognise it as a caricature of the church community they belong to. Caricatures are always painful for those so portrayed. Each of us possesses a truth of our intimate family circle with its good and bad. We shudder at its possible portrayal for the amusement of the general public. Everybody's amusement is inevitably someone's pain and more awful if amusement become ridicule.
I sensed a trace of ridicule in Sean O'Donaile's use of ``(nuns!!)'' where he describes them as an obstacle to Ted's amorous tendencies. `Them' is quite likely to include one of us if we look a little closer. I thought of Sr Sarah Clarke and her work for Irish political prisoners which, at the age of 78, she felt urged to give witness to in her book No Faith in the System. She dedicated the book to Guiseppe Conlon and to all prisoners' families. I want to pay tribute to this nun by a quotation from her book published in 1995.
``I have communicated with hundreds of prisoners and their families since beginning my work in the early 1970s. Even now, blind, frail and unwell, I use the last glimmer of my sight to squint through an extremely strong magnifying glass making out the addresses of the prisoners on my list and sending them all cards and postal orders for Christmas... Their families still come and stay with me. Former prisoners visit me regularly in my North London flat and I still keep in contact with several prisoners who have been transferred to Ireland (p.185).. by 1990... I went to the Old Bailey as I had done so many times before...I was still subjected to taunts and insults... Abuse has been a constant part of any work I have done as friend and adviser to prisoners and their families (p.201).
Don't copy English tactics
Robert Allen's article (An Phoblacht 30 October) was welcome. There is a need for the green movement to have an analysis which takes in politics, economics, etc. For example, free market policies are behind the disastrous growth in road traffic - the ideology that says there should be no regulation is responsible for clogging our roads.
It is absolutely right that people power should attempt to prevail over this madness. But we shouldn't just copy the tactics employed by protestors in England. For example anti-road protestors seemed easily put off by court injunctions. When they should have been clogging up the courts and prisons they were afraid to go near the protest site. It was as if the soldiers in the front line of the ecological war were put off by the threat of a short spell in jail.
Also - and crucially - the campaign must become a truly popular one. It can't only involve those who live alternative lifestyles. That sort of elitism will spell the death of any anti-roads campaign in Ireland.
Sinn Féin Bun na bhFal, along with the countless friends and comrades of the late Gretta Reel RIP would like to extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to Caoimhghín O'Caoláin TD and Monaghan Sinn Féin for their kind hospitality during the recent memorial ceremony for Gretta.
The poignancy of the occasion was felt by all concerned and Caoimhghín's dignified oration gave special meaning to the wonderful life of our late friend and comrade.
Once again a huge go raibh maith agaibh go leir.
Sinn Féin Bun na bhFal.
Wary of McAleese win
Republicans should avoid getting caught up in the euphoria surrounding the election of Mary McAleese. While satisfying to see the likes of John Bruton and Eoghan Harris humiliated, the fact remains that McAleese was the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat candidate and neither of these parties' interests coincide with ours.
Nationalist sentiment played a role in McAleese's victory but nationalism and republicanism are not the same thing. Fianna Fáil have always been adept at playing the green card and at the same time repressing republicans. The huge proportion of the southern electorate that didn't vote is testimony to the alienation of many people from the circus of southern politics. It would be more worthwhile trying to oganise among this constituency than attempting to bask in the reflected glory of McAleese's victory.