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moon over manhattan
I m surprised that more hasn t been made of the Irish Times picture of Albert Moonie on Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick s Day.
Eamonn McCann, 18 Mar 1998
I m surprised that more hasn t been made of the Irish Times picture of Albert Moonie on Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick s Day. I m told that Albert did the gig for free. He had been paid appearance money for his previous US engagement, a10-minute talk to members of the Unification Church, followers of the Rev. Moon, gathered in Washington.
Quite right to make the Moonies cough up. To have appeared gratis before them would hardly have been in keeping with the dignity of the office of Taoiseach.
I have been unable to confirm if he was paid $25,000, but that s what they gave Edward Heath. Our own ex-first minister was surely worth as much.
The picture in the Times proved once and for all that Albert can make a joke. There he was on page seven, in what some prankster had told him was de rigeur rig-out for the grand marshal of the parade black gloves and pin-stripes, top hat and tails, a two-foot wide tricolour sash wrapped around him and an idiot grin on his face.
The accompanying report described the tragi-comical scene: (He) went by relatively unnoticed, with hardly a camera nor a reporter in sight, and no sign of recognition from the crowd . . . He pursed his lips and marched hurriedly along the avenue. A faint cheer greeted his wave and he quickly lowered his hand again . . .
Hardly anybody recognised him. At least we can be grateful for that.
I was in New York myself once for St. Patrick s Day. They arrested me, held me overnight in the Tombs, a terrific experience I wouldn t have missed for the world. I d been part of a demo trying to link the civil rights campaign in the North with the struggle for equality of black people of the US. One of the cops who encouraged us towards the paddy-wagon with night-sticks snarled nigger-lovers in time with the thumping.
Some things don t change. This year, again, Irish gays and lesbians were excluded from the New York march, without any chorus of complaint from people who otherwise never give over about inclusiveness .
Any parade which keeps Irish gays and lesbians out and lets Albert Reynolds in represents a variety of Irishness no self-respecting citizen would want to be part of.
There s a lot of it about. People used to wear sprigs of shamrock. But on Paddy s Day in Derry there were folk on the streets with enough foliage on their lapels to provide a breeding sanctuary for a small species of marsupial. I passed a pub on the Strand Road which had its bar-staff done up as leprechauns and a band playing If You re Irish, Come Into the Parlour .
Still, I bet Bill Clinton enjoyed partying with Irish political leaders. There s nothing Bill likes better than people abject in front of him, sucking up.