I thought you might be interested in some of the topics and themes that I’ve been covering via Twitter over the last couple of weeks.
The Tánaiste and Deputy Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, TD, announced a major review of Ireland’s foreign policy and the means of their delivery. He said “the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will shortly launch a consultation process as part of this review, inviting input from members of the public, and other stakeholders with an interest in Ireland’s foreign policy.” The Irish Times report is here http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/gilmore-announces-complete-review-of-state-s-foreign-policy .
The Tánaiste made the announcement in the course of a speech whose main focus was on the centrality of Human Rights to Irish foreign policy principles and diplomatic activities. The text of the speech is here http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=89926.
This Review comes at an important transitional time with Ireland proudly and stoically exiting the EU/IMF programme. This is a not just a major achievement by Ireland but an invaluable investment in our reputation. In the international bond market, a good reputation translates directly into lower and stable bond yields that will aid our delivery and lighten the burden on our future. The Government announcement is here http://www.merrionstreet.ie/index.php/2013/11/ireland-to-exit-the-euimf-programme-on-15th-december-as-planned-and-without-further-supports/?cat=3
Another theme I’ve been picking up is hi-tech start-ups, with some links to articles and quotes. This article from the Guardian used the example of Snapchat – very popular with my wife and daughters, its speed and disposability lends itself to pictures of the funny things of daily family life – as an insight into the current start-up culture: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/13/snapchat-app-sexting-lawsuits-valuation . The BBC carried an interesting article on the almost artisanal approach to start-ups and creativity in Norway at a place called Mesh, “Oslo’s first bespoke hub for budding entrepreneurs”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24912717 .
A lot has been happening on the Northern Ireland front and Anglo-Irish relations generally. The President of Ireland, Michael D. O’Higgins, will be the first Irish President on a State Visit to Britain next April. This is accurately described as an historic event, a hinge moment in the long narrative of Anglo-Irish relations; see Irish Times editorial on its significance here http://www.irishtimes.com/debate/editorial/mr-higgins-goes-to-windsor-1.1599118 .
The platform for this amicable visit, so reflective of the good relations now enjoyed between Ireland and Britain, was laid by Irish independence in 1922, the progress of the Northern Ireland Peace Process from the 1990s onwards, the pioneering visit of President Robinson to Buckingham Palace in 1993, the tremendous bridge-building work of President McAleese and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in 2011.
For history buffs, it comes on the millennial anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf (Good Friday, 1014) when the great and only truly High King of Ireland, Brian Bóru, broke the power of the Vikings in Ireland (and some historians think fended off a major Danish invasion).
More directly, it coincides with the centennial commemoration of the start of World War I. We Irish nationalists have had a conflicted response to those Irishmen who enlisted in the British Army and fought in the Great War, instructed though they were to do so on Ireland’s behalf by the great Irish nationalist leader John Redmond (i.e. that fighting for ‘little Belgium’ would translate to an obligation to grant Irish home rule). Since the late 1980s, however, Irish thinking has moved on very considerably and we are now recovering the deeply rooted tradition of Irish service in the British Army, lost sight of in the winnowing of Irish nationalist resurgence in the 20th century. See an interesting article on this here http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/alex-massie/2013/11/when-50000-irishmen-gathered-to-commemorate-the-first-world-war . Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste attended remembrance day services; see here http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1110/485740-gilmore-belfast .
The peace process in Northern Ireland is very much a work in progress. This is true of the divisions still entrenched between the communities manifest in the Peace Walls, included in this Guardian article graphically illustrating the walls of the world (including the barrier here): http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2013/nov/walls?CMP=twt_gu
Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past and the legacy of the conflict is an ongoing issue as most recently shown by a new investigative report here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24987465 on British Army killings and by the Northern Ireland Attorney General’s suggestion that no prosecutions be pursued for acts carried out prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/anger-at-call-to-draw-line-under-past-northern-killings-1.1601889
I keep an eye out for insightful coverage of the Holocaust and this New York Times article captures a sometimes forgotten aspect of the rapacity and significance of stealing and disposing of the quotidian goods belonging to Jews destined for the death camps: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/opinion/sunday/the-banality-of-robbing-the-jews.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0 .
Twitter lends itself to sharing photos which I gleam from a variety of sources including National Geographic and Irish Archaeology, all involving Ireland of course: some examples here https://twitter.com/NatGeopix/status/401194177629028352/photo/1/large and here http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=10380075&catID=198&contestCatID=&rowNumber=1&camID .
In local news, I attended the funeral of the Irish priest and renowned academic, Fr. Jerome Murphy O’Connor in Jerusalem. A Dominican father, he devoted his life to the study of St Paul and the Holy Land, writing the brilliant and now standard guide The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. He was appointed Professor of New Testament at the École Biblique in Jerusalem in 1967 and held the position for the rest of his life. His walking tours were legendary as was his expansive personality and deep intellect. His brother Fr Kerry delivered a heartfelt tribute to his life, his personality and achievements at the funeral service at the beautiful Basilica de St. Etienne. He noted that three of his grandparents’ children and six of their grandchildren joined religious orders, including his cousin, Archbishop of Canterbury Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor.
Though he lived for some fifty years in Jerusalem, Fr Jerry, as he was fondly called by all who knew him, remained a true and great Irishman. After an evocative service and blessing by his brother, accompanied by transcendent chanting by his Dominican brethren, Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor was interred in the vault there, in the company of fellow scholars. As I paused on the steps on the way in, I captured the scene here https://twitter.com/EamonnMcKee/status/400653809753395201/photo/1
As always we welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have about links to things of interest to Ireland and Israel.
Ambassador of Ireland