Mary, Mary




If God loves a tryer, he must be nuts about Mary McAleese.  Eoghan Harris may have described her as a ticking time-bomb, but there can hardly be a North-South/Unionist/Nationalist avenue to reconciliation she hasn’t walked.


We all remember how she used to invite the Orange Order to Aras An Uachtarain  each Twelfth, plying them with encouragement and drink. Her husband Martin used do eighteen holes of golf with UDA man Jackie McDonald. She hosted the Queen of England and said “Wow!” twice when Her Maj used an opening few words of Irish in her speech. I remember being interviewed by Jon Snow for Channel 4 news, with the writer Sebastian Barry. As with practically every commentator, Barry spoke of the royal visit as a transforming moment, a thing of beauty and a joy forever – as did pretty well everyone else with the exception of myself. (Shut up Virginia.)


And now the files from the 1970s reveal that Mary McAleese and her husband encouraged the Ulster-Scots people (OK, OK – Ulster-Scots folk),  and again with her husband Martin promised to take every opportunity to have the Ulster-Scots tradition promoted in the South’s schools.


To say that Mary McAleese stretched out the hand of friendship to unionism would be an understatement.


Which brings us to the awkward and inevitable question: what was the response from the other side? Has Jackie McDonald been calling for the acceptance of Irish culture in the North, never mind its promotion? Have the Ulster-Scots brigade been urging the integration of things Irish in the Northern curriculum? Has President Higgins been invited to a hooley by Jeffrey Donaldson, where traditional Irish songs and poetry might have featured?


If you don’t know the answers to those questions, then you really haven’t been paying attention to anything beyond the end of your nose for the past several decades. It’d be nice to say that the seeds planted by Mary McAleese are now  bearing fruit. Nice but entirely laughable. And no, don’t ask “Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?”, Virginia. Some seeds fall on cold, unforgiving ground and that’s the end of them.

2 Responses to Mary, Mary

  1. James Hunter December 29, 2023 at 3:22 pm #

    Very good jude free Palestine

  2. Jude Collins December 30, 2023 at 11:25 am #

    Thank you, James. And ditto…