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LETTER to The PRESIDENT of the Republic of IRELAND

Mary McAleese
Uachtaráin nah Éireann
                  

Áras an Uachtaráin
Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
Poblacht nah Éireann                                                                            3 January 2006

Dear Mary,
It's many years since we met over dinner at Newcastle University, but you (or your husband) may remember me as Daniel Easterman. You weren't yet President then, of course, so perhaps I should offer you my congratulations as well as a word of thanks for the excellent job you've been doing since then.

The reason I'm writing now is, I fear, not the best with which to start the New Year, but I feel prompted to do so before the year gets any older.

I have just read that Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has refused to condemn statements made by former minister Justin Keating on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians. I read Mr Keating's piece when it appeared, and I was horrified by its blatant anti-Semitic content and its absolute lack of factual accuracy (you may recall that I was originally an academic in Middle East and Islamic Studies).

Knowing that Ireland had always had a good record with respect to its Jewish population, I felt that a widely distributed article of this kind was a betrayal of a country of which I've always been proud to be a citizen. I also felt that it played into the hands of the extremists who displayed virulently anti-Semitic sentiments during the Ireland v Israel football
match earlier this year.

Given that anti-Semitism is again on the rise throughout Europe and that Ireland is a major player on the European and, indeed, the world stage, I cannot believe that it is in the interests of our country to dismiss complaints about such a blatant expression of historically and politically inept anti-Jewish and anti-Israel feeling. For the Prime Minister himself to remain inert in the face of what amounts to hate speech sends out a message that will not be well received in many other countries.

I realize you have an imperative to remain above the political realm, and I won't ask you to do anything to compromise your position as head of state. But

 

I do hope that the seriousness of this matter will be apparent to you, and that you may be able to use those powers you have to express an unconditional abhorrence of anti-Semitism in whatever form it expresses itself.

 

Whatever else you may feel able to do in the present situation is, of course, entirely at your discretion.

And, having said all that, let me wish you the best of new years.

Perhaps we'll meet again if you ever come this way.

With all best wishes,

Dr. Denis MacEoin
Royal Literary Fund Fellow
Newcastle University

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