To The Editor The Irish Echo Saturday, January 22, 2005

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Dear Editor,

Anne Cadwallader’s fine article ,”Minister attacks new North paper” ( January 19 -25) made truly alarming reading. It explained how the Irish Minister of Justice, Michael Mc Dowell ,launched an extraordinary verbal attack on the new Irish newspaper that is to be published in Belfast next month, Daily Ireland.
Ms. Cadwallader explained : ” Unashamedly supporting a united Ireland, and expected to take a strongly nationalist editorial line, the paper was compared to Nazi propaganda last weekend by the Irish minister for justice, Michael McDowell”
Out of all Mr. Mc Dowell’s extremist statements — and there have been so many since he became justice Minister — this may well be the most shocking. Can you imagine outgoing Attorney General, John Ashcroft, for all his faults, ever issuing such a irresponsible rant against a legitimate American newspaper? It would , quite rightly be seen as an egregious abuse of power, and he surely would be held accountable.
But there’s another reason why I find Minister Mc Dowell’s outburst so distressing : one of the precious dividends of the Irish peace process was that it, in my mind, ended the Irish Civil war mentality of government officials in Southern Ireland. I felt so many of them seemed to be out to prove that their fathers or grandfathers were on ” the right side” in the Civil War.
That, in part, led to many of them having a terrible attitude to the North, which , I have always believed, was one of the main reasons why the conflict just kept spiralling… Just consider the bad old days of Jack Lynch, Dessie O’Malley,Conor Cruise O’Brien and Garret FitzGerald. If those guys were still in power in Southern Ireland, there would be no peace-process today.
The then Irish Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds , God bless him, had the vision and patriotism to endorse the peace-process launched by John Hume and Gerry Adams in the 1990s . And since that time the Irish government has played an admirable and totally crucial role in the process… And I was so deeply grateful.
But now I fear the rantings of Minister Mc Dowell could drag us back to the bad old days, and that would break this Fermanaghman’s heart.

Father Sean Mc Manus