Irish Presidential Tales: In which I am attacked by a British obituary writer for running for Irish president


Two weeks in and the possible run for president hits its first choppy waters.

It is in the form of an article in The Irish Times castigating me as an Irish American for daring to think about running for president of Ireland-- even though I was born and lived 26 years there.

The headline is 'O'Dowd too much of an Irish American for the Aras' (meaning Aras an Uachtarain the president's residence).

It was written by British citizen Walter Ellis, who writes obituaries for The London Times as far as I can judge.

Amazingly, he is presented as some kind of prominent Irish American by the Times.

The Times has been doing a lot of that in recent times, presenting marginal figures as leading Irish Americans.

Clearly the emigrant Irish and Irish Americans are seen by some there as a nuisance at best, as a threat at worst and anyone who will write that way is encouraged.

The key point in the article is to paint me as an outsider, as if Ireland was not tethered in so many ways to the millions who have left the place in the past 160 odd years since the famine.

There is also the attempt to paint Irish Americans as naive and not understanding Ireland, even though we did anticipate and act on the opening for a peace process in Ireland before the majority of the Irish ever did.

We were accused of being naive then too.

Just keep the dollars coming lads and feck off then?

Portraying people as outsiders fits into that genre.

Current president Mary McAleese, because of her Northern Irish roots, suffered savage attacks.

Think Barack Obama and his birth certificate.   

Ellis, the British obituary writer, presents the cartoon version of Irish America. He sneers at the fact that my publications celebrate St.Patrick's Day.

I've been accused of many things, but celebrating St. Patrick's Day I plead guilty to.

Then Ellis says I have been nasty to the Royal Family -- again I plead guilty on occasions, such as when Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi and Prince William claimed an Irish title.

But the strangest accusation is that somehow I am not Irish because I am an American and Irish citizen (This is coming from a British citizen). 

By his lights, Eamon De Valera, who essentially engineered the modern Irish state, was not Irish either because he was born in New York.

I have spent 32 years writing about Ireland practically every day. To be presented as somehow not of Ireland is passing strange to me, especially by a British writer.

Suffice to say, however, attacks by British obituary writers were hardly part of my fears when I announced I was thinking of running.

But I suppose if an obituary writer is writing about you it is better that you are being attacked than remembered.

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READ MORE: 

Running for Irish president (maybe) day one and two

Why running for President of Ireland brings out the best and worst --- not to mention the humor and hostility

Learning from the first Irish presidential debate and Newt Gingrich on immigration 

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