Posted on 12th May 2018

Slane Castle

It was nothing short of heart-breaking to listen to Emma Mhic Mhathuna’s interview on Morning Ireland on Thursday.  If anything emphasises how horrendous this all is, her words do.  “I’m dying when I don’t need to die.  And my children are going to be without me, and I’m going to be without them”.  Then, most moving of all “ And I don’t even know if my little baby is going to remember me”.  Above all else this illustrates to us all what is required.  Compassion.  What have we seen ? Quite the reverse.  Let us not forget that without Vicky Phelan’s courage none of this would have come out.  Now we see what was really going on spelled out in black and white in the Memos revealed to the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.  “ Action to pause all letters, await advice of solicitors, decide on the order and volume of dispatch to mitigate any potential risks and continue to prepare reactive communications response for a media headline that ‘ screening did not diagnose my cancer”.  No wonder Tony O’Brien resigned.  No wonder Vicky Phelan said she was “delighted”.  Finally we are starting to see what Emma meant when she said “accountability”.  If anything comes out of this profoundly shocking saga it is that Ireland must change and those involved in the institutions of this state must be held accountable for their actions.  Our Taoiseach is a medical doctor and also a former Minister for Health.  More than anyone else, he now has an obligation to show leadership and deal with this crisis.

When I was a kid I was frightened of the Atomic Bomb.  In the 1960’s the concept of mutually assured destruction or MAD was part of American strategic thinking.  This was at the height of the Cold War and in one’s imagination it was not hard to believe that the United States and the Soviet Union would obliterate each other and with a bit of luck Ireland might survive.

So with this in mind I cannot but welcome the forthcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea.  I hope and pray that this leads to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.  However, is it not bizarre that this very same President who is pursuing peace with a ruthless despot is at the same time walking out on the Iran nuclear deal.  In so doing, he is upsetting America’s traditional allies, France, Germany and the UK.  He is also potentially destabilising the Middle East.

Let us understand what is happening here.  The America First policy is evolving into the America Alone policy.  A great nation that has had the admiration of the West is, under this deeply flawed President, going into unchartered waters.  This week the world is not a safer place.

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