Tuesday, 13 October 2009

In Defence of Moneygall

This vile column appeared in yesterday's Irish Independent (12th October) and prompted me to write to the paper in response.
My letter was printed (somewhat edited) in today's edition. SEE HERE
Scroll down to see the original unedited version as sent to the paper.

Original Column:

A proud day for Ireland ...

By Ian O'Doherty
Monday October 12 2009

Sure, some people -- all of them racist, obviously -- have raised their eyebrows at Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

Sure, those doubters have pointed out that he hasn't actually done anything since he came to power and, in fact, his approval rating is now falling faster than Drogba in the box.

But the fact that Obama won the prize certainly tells us one thing -- you don't need to actually do anything to win it.

However, those people who are carping about the award are missing one big point -- this is great news for the witless simpletons of Moneygall who seem insistent on claiming Obama as one of their own.

No doubt we can expect a re-release of the emetic 'There's No One As Irish As Obama' and street parties from the proles down there trying to bask in some distantly reflected glory.

Interestingly, the Mayor of Ennis was the first to congratulate Moneygall, saying: "As the mayor of a town which produced the greatest boxer the world has ever seen, may I be the first to congratulate Moneygall on now having a Nobel prize winner as one of their own. Sure aren't we a great little country altogether."

Henry Kissinger was quick to add his congratulations: "Unlike me, Barack Obama did not have to be involved in an illegal war to win his prize. Oh wait, that's not entirely true."

- Ian O'Doherty

My letter (Unedited):

Dear Sir,
Not for the first time your columnist Ian O'Doherty has seen fit to launch a gratuitous and highly offensive attack on the people of Moneygall. In his column on Monday 12th October entitled 'A proud day for Ireland' he reflects on the mixed response to the award of the Nobel Peace prize to President Obama. Like many he is highly cynical about this admittedly premature award and even as a huge admirer of President Obama I would have a sympathy with this view. It may well have been better to wait until his politics of change bore demonstrable fruit. Although one could also point out that the gestures he has already made towards former 'enemies' of the US mark a sea change in America's relationship to the rest of the world.
However O'Doherty declares this is not the real point and he goes on to say that '[the award] is great news for the witless simpletons of Moneygall who seem insistent on claiming Obama as one of their own'.
He also speculates on a 're-release of the emetic 'There's No One As Irish As Obama' and street parties from the proles down there trying to bask in some distantly reflected glory.'

To describe anyone, never mind a whole community as 'witless simpletons' is cheap, nasty, lazy and trashy journalism and not something I would have associated with one of the quality national papers on this Island. It drags your publication into the gutter and is a betrayal of the many fine journalists who write for your paper.
On what basis does O'Doherty spew out such bile?

There is no denying that the people of Moneygall and indeed Offaly in general are very proud of their real and proven historical link with President Obama. At a time in our history when there is so much bad news is there anything wrong in celebrating an individual who has inspired people the world over to believe that there can be a better tomorrow? As one of the party from Moneygall who had the privilege of attending the Inauguration I will never forget the spontaneous joy and hope that was so evident in Washington on that historic day. I fail to understand why the people of Moneygall should have to apologize for celebrating this.

As to the song by the Corrigan Brothers; it celebrates not only Obama's Irish roots but also his Hawaiian and Kenyan roots too. It's a fun ditty and love it or hate it, the song captured the extraordinary diverse background of an outstanding world figure and brought a smile to many faces the world over.

It might surprise O'Doherty that the US administration are treating the Moneygall link very seriously indeed. The previous acting ambassador Robert Foucher has already visited the village and only last month a senior member of the Embassy staff visited the village to draw up an outline plan and itinerary for a future Presidential visit.
I cannot imagine that this would have happened without the approval of the President himself.

One is tempted to observe that Ian O'Doherty's initials are only two short of making him an idiot but that would be coming down to his level of insult. I do feel however that for the sake of the integrity of your paper if not for the reputation of the good people of Moneygall an apology and withdrawl of the undeserved slur is in order.

Yours truly,
Rev'd Canon Stephen Neill (Church of Ireland Rector of Moneygall)


Darwin said...

Hear, hear. And MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also provides some further perspective on the history and workings of the Nobel Peace Prize--pointing out that several winners were pre-emptively awarded their gongs.

Póló said...

"one of the quality national papers on this Island"

Stephen, have you finally lost it?

Stephen Neill said...

Darwin - Interesting - thanks for that

Póló - I was just being nice :-) I had my fingers crossed ;-)