Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D Higgins, is in hot water. She recently wrote a letter to The Irish Times, calling for a negotiated settlement of the war in Ukraine. In the absence of negotiation, she said, “the long haul of terrible war will go on”.
The Ukrainians weren’t pleased. Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said “It’s easy to call for peace if you’re not actually inside war”. Two Irish senators, Fine Gael’s John McGahon and Fianna Fail’s Malcolm Byrne, have been critical of the letter. There has been criticism that the President’s wife has drawn a moral equivalence between Ukraine and Russia.
In some ways, it’s a ridiculous row. What kind of eejit/monster would you be that wouldn’t want a negotiated peace rather than a bloody war? Mrs Higgins doesn’t say it, but the war in Ukraine is to a large degree a proxy war by NATO against Russia – it is pouring arms into Ukraine in support of the Ukrainian resistance. Russia’s claims that there are right-wing Nazi-type forces operating in Ukraine are also true. So good for Sabina, for voicing the obvious. Better jaw-jaw than war-war, as Churchill said.
On the other hand, I can’t help thinking of the Skibereen Eagle. That newspaper once wrote an editorial, warning Russia against aggression and letting it know that The Skibereen Eagle had its eye on it.
As with the SE, so with Sabina. The words of the President’s wife are hardly likely, however sensible, to alter the course of the war. For Irish senators, for Ukrainian members of parliament or anyone else to think that Sabina’s letter will persuade anyone to act differently is laughable. The fact that what she says is true doesn’t prevent it from being risible.
As long as the Irish air force doesn’t kit out Michael D and drop him behind enemy lines.