Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Ireland’s Culture and History Wars – Che Guevara and the nation’s “stamp of the year” – Michael D Higgins Rejects Men of God Partition Pray-In at Armagh Cathedral

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Dateline October 9 2017.

Fine Gael politician Neale Richmond launched an ill-judged ambush on the Irish Post Office’s Ché Guevara stamp. Richmond’s sniping helped make this stamp one of the most successful products ever sold by An Post.

Four years on, Neale Richmond has moved up the ladder from the Seanad to Dáil Éireann – he is now a TD in Dublin-Rathdown. This Fine Gael bulldog may be set loose on President Michael D Higgins – currently much more popular than the FFFGGG coalition after rejecting Ireland’s “Carnival of Reaction” – partition.

Ireland’s controversial Che Guevara stamp has been voted “stamp issue of the year” by readers of An Post’s new-issue bulletin Irish Stamps, The Collector. The popularity poll for best stamp of 2017 was announced in the first 2018 issue of the bulletin, and the results were reported in the second. In the latter bulletin, An Post said that one of the reasons that collectors chose the Che Guevara stamp was “Art is about creating conversation and debate. And this stamp certainly succeeded.”

The original printing of 122,000 stamps sold out by Oct. 12, and the commemorative stamp was sent back to press for a second printing (Linn’s, Oct. 30, 2017). By mid-November, An Post was offering the stamp for sell again (Linn’s, Dec. 4, 2017).  As of April 24 2018, the stamp is once again listed as “sold out”

Then Fine Gael Senator Richmond said a decision by An Post to commission a stamp commemorating revolutionary Che Guevara  was “totally objectionable”.

Richmond wrote to Minister for Communications asking for an explanation behind the “terrible” decision to commission a stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of Guevara’s death, on October 9th, 1967.

He asked if Pol Pot, the communist Khmer Rouge leader in Cambodia, and Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu, would also be acceptable for special stamps.

The €1 stamp features a famous image of Guevara, a leading figure in the Cuban revolution, by Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick. Born in Argentina, Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

His father was Ernesto Guevara Lynch, a civil engineer of Irish descent.

A quote from Ernesto, “in my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels”, features on a cover envelope to accompany the stamp.

Irish Times October 9 2017

Ernesto Guevara Lynch, father of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara : “in my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels”, features on a cover envelope to accompany the stamp.

Richmond is from the Rathdown stamping-ground of an unlamented reactionary Liam Cosgrave (ex FG Taoiseach). Arguably Liam Cosgrave’s 1973-77 Fine Gael-Labour coalition was the worst ever government in charge of Ireland’s 26 County State – and it wins that award up against very stiff competition. Mr Richmond seems soaked in Fine Gael nostalgia worshipping his former leader.

Liam Cosgrave Shoots to Kill. The record speaks for itself.

Richmond’s words might qualify for a prize in a literary competition named after Mr Cosgrave.

Richmond belongs to the liberal wing of Fine Gael.  Is this weak current, always struggling against a flood of political sewage, committing political suicide?

The party has changed since Liam Cosgrave voted against his own government’s timid effort to legalise contraception. It made real efforts to promote less reactionary anti-women policies since the mid-1970’s – and campaigned for a Yes vote the historic referendum of 2018 when voters legalised abortion with a landslide majority. It has become more secular, and less willing to obey commands issued by the men of God.

That said, the Fine Gael party has never wavered from determination to maintain the institutions of the 26 County state. The men of God barked commands at President Michael D Higgins to honour partition, who has politely told these reactionaries to bugger off to the bingo.  A very significant gap is widening between the largely symbolic office of the Irish President, and a fragile FFFGGG coalition.

The President V Government rift is spreading to other important issues. For decades the state has abandoned effective safety supervision of the house building industry, preferring ”light touch” regulation. Large demonstrations are occurring over the use of mica, a dangerous material putting many houses at risk, especially in Donegal. Cautious public statements from the president are adding to pressure on the government. The Irish Times reports :

“President Michael D Higgins is “acutely aware” of the “heartfelt pain and anguish” caused by the mica issue, his office told campaigners in a letter before yesterday’s mass protest.

In response to an invitation to attend the protest, sent to his office by the Mica Action Group, the deputy secretary general to the President wrote that Mr Higgins has been “following developments closely and continuously raises this issue in his regular briefings with the Taoiseach”.

“The President is acutely aware of the very difficult situation that so many households and families find themselves in as a result of mica, and indeed the heartfelt pain and anguish that this is causing.”

While the letter stated the President “due to the constitutional nature of his office, cannot become directly involved in matters that are the policy responsible of Government”, his comments mark a contribution to a high-profile public issue shortly to be the subject of a Government decision entailing significant spending.

His office confirmed the letter was sent by the Áras. A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the convention was the head of Government did not comment on briefings with the President.” – Irish Times October 9 2021.

The FFFGGG coalition and the President have chosen polar opposite policies over the Armagh Cathedral partitionist pray-in on October 21 next. The unpopular government pretends there is nothing to see here. We may not be waiting very long before Neale Richmond and other establishment bulldogs join Bishop Éamon Martin’s attack on a popular Irish President.

The best form of defence is attack.

Boycott the Armagh Cathedral Partitionist Pray-In on October 21

Unite to Call on all Public Representatives to Boycott the October 21 Armagh Boycott

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