Mary McAleese

1951- ; [Mary Patricia McAleese; née Leneghan; Gl. Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa] b. 27 June, eldest of nine; brought up in Ardoyne area Belfast, and later on Crumlin Rd. after the family were burned out in the early Troubles; her father owned The Long Bar, Leeson St., W. Belfast, and aftewards held a public house in Rostrevor, Co. Down; grew up in household with a profoundly deaf brother;ed. Dominican, Rostrevor, Co. Down; briefly joined the Communist Party in her teens; grad. LLB from Queen’s University, Belfast, 1973; influenced by Fr. Justin Coyne (‘soul-mate’); joined Peoples Democracy as a student; grad. MA from TCD, 1986; N. Ireland bar, 1974; worked as a barrister, 1974-75; also King’s Inns, Dublin;
appt. to Reid Professor of Criminal Law, TCD, 1975-79, m. Martin McAleese, 1976, following an earlier broken engagement; returned to Reid Chair, 1981-87; current affairs journalist and presenter, RTÉ, 1979-81; Dir. of Inst. of Profesional Legal Studies (QUB), 1987-97; Pro-Vice Chancellor, QUB, 1994-97, and object of public insults from David Trimble; completed Dipl. in Spanish, Inst. of Linguistic, 1994; co-chair of Inter-Church Working Party on Sectarianism, 1994; exec. mbr., Focus Point for Homeless People; Hon. President, served on Housing Rights Association;
mbr. of Roman Catholic Episcopal Delegation to the New Forum, 1984, and attracted criticism from the Liberal camp; adopted as Fianna Fáil presidental candidate, strongly promoted by Bertie Ahern, and elected President of Ireland, 11 Nov. 1997, having resigned from QUB, 30 Oct. 1997; issued Reconciled Being: Love in Chaos (1997), an informal spiritual autobiography; moved to Áras an Uachtarain, accomp. by her husband Martin and children Emma, Justin and Sara-Mai; travelled widely representing Ireland, in particular at diaspora cultural centres;
receives Church of Ireland Communion during Service of Reconciliation at Christ Church Cathedral, 1997; attended a war memorial service with Queen Elizabeth II at Flanders and laid a wreath on opening the Ireland Peace Park, Messines, 11 Nov. 1998; launched EIRData, an internet resource of the Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) 7th Oct. 2000; gave exemplary expression of compassionate concern in impromptu words spoken on television on hearing of the castrophe on Sept. 11th 2001 [viz., 9/11];
launched RIA Conference, UUC (Coleraine), 9th Nov. 2001; elected FRSA; distinguished speaker at The Irish Times Awards (RDS, Dec. 2001); an authorised biography by Ray Mac Mánais, her former Irish teacher, appeared in 2003; re-elected to Presidency without opposition, 2004; she placed a candle at Auschwitz the former Nazi Concentration Camp, 27 Jan., and subsequently apologised for ill-advised remarks in radio-interview on comparable forms of prejudice in Northern Ireland, 9 Jan. 2005;
addresses “The Long Revolution: 1916”, a conference at UCC [‘Rising sought inclusive Ireland’], speaking on the 1916 Rising in approving terms, 1 Jan. 2006; received Humanitarian Award of American Ireland Fund, 3 May 2007; received hon. degree from Otago University, New Zealand, 31 2007; awarded LLD by Mount Holyoke College, Mass.; returned from tour in Africa to attend state funeral of Charles Haughey, June 2006; visited the Vatican and enjoyed audience with Pope Benedict XVI, being accompanied by him on her visit to the Vatican Library; visited Hollywood in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Film Board, Dec. 2008; attended Irish 6-Nations victory against France in Dublin, 2009 - first such win since 1948 - and introduced to team by Brian O'Driscoll as captain;
signed into law the National Assets Management Agency [NAMA], established to deal with the massive deficits and residual assets of Anglo-Irish Bank and others, 22 Nov. 2009 - without seeking advice from Council of State as to its constitutionality; undertook an official visit to London, 28-29 Feb. 2010; and attended Balmoral Show, in Northern Ireland, May 2010; undertook official visit to New York, 16 May 2010, addressing the New York Stock Exchange where she pronouncing the Irish people to be ‘mad as hell’ about their banking crisis; attended Famine mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NY; awarded LLD and made the commencement speech at Fordham University, 22 May 2010;
laid a wreathe to Irish soldiers killed at Gallipoli in 1916, at Helles Memorial, 24 March 2010; gave the Chancellor’s Address at University of Ulster (Belfast Campus), 22 April 2010; official visit to China, June 2010; addressed the Catholic lay-group Communione e Liberazione in Rimini, Aug. 2010, where she expressed incredulity at the ‘Irish’ notion that Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, lacks papal support; official visit to Russia, Sept. 2010; spoke damningly of the role of the Central Bank of Ireland in creating mortgage jeopardy for thousands of Irish house-owners;
refused proffered office of Grand Marshal for St. Patrick’s Day Parade, NY, 2011, presumably on account of the prevalent anti-gay ethos of the organisers though citing ‘scheduling constraints’; invited Queen Elizabeth II to make an official visit to Ireland, March 2011, resulting in the visit of 17-20 May 2011; hosted Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancée at a State Dinner in Arás an Uachtaráin, 4 April 2011; spoke out against attacks by members of the European Union on tax relief for overseas industries Ireland operating under terms of IDA system;
hosted Queen Elizabeth II of England [i.e, the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland] and Prince Philip at State Dinner in Dublin Castle, 18 May 2011, and joined her in ceremonies at Islandbridge Memorial Garden for Irish WWI soldiers and the Garden of Remembrance for the insurgents of 1916; visited Derry as inaugural speaker at Conversations Across Walls and Borders, organised by First Derry Presbyterian Church; undertook a state visit to Lebanon, Oct. 2011 - her last such trip in office, and the scene of her first; made her last official appearance at event for homeless men, 10 Nov. 2011;
voluntarily returned €500K not used during her period of office; issued Building Bridges (2011), speeches from her 14-year presidency, with a foreword by Seamus Heaney; studied Canon Law at Gregorian University (Vatican), Rome, and was conferred HDCL at Milltown Institute (SJ), in Dublin, Nov. 2012; expressed public concern about the high rate of suicide among young men, and raised concern over denigration of homosexuality by the Catholic church in a meeting sought with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland (Archb. Charles Brown); issued Quo Vadis (2012), a study of canon law and the contemporary nature of governance in the Catholic Church with regard to the concept of collegiacy v. papal supremacy; received Ulysses medal of UCD - and challenged papacy’s plan for symposium of all-male clergy on family life as ‘bonkers’, June 2014.
[ top ]

Biog on Aras an Uachtarain website ...

On 11th November, 1997, Mary McAleese was inaugurated as the eighth President of Ireland. Mary McAleese was re-elected on Friday 1st October 2004 being the only validly-nominated candidate. She is a barrister and former Professor of Law. Born on June 27th 1951 in Belfast, she is the first President to come from Northern Ireland. She is married, since 1976, to Dr. Martin McAleese, an accountant and dentist. They have three children, Emma, born 1982 and twins Justin and SaraMai, born 1985.

The eldest of nine children, President McAleese grew up in Northern Ireland through the violent times that have come to be known as ’The Troubles’. Her family was one of many adversely affected by the conflict. She graduated in Law from the Queen’s University of Belfast in 1973 and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1974. In 1975, she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin and in 1987, she returned to her Alma Mater, Queen’s, to become Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. In 1994, she became the first female Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Queen’s University of Belfast.

President McAleese is an experienced broadcaster, having worked as a current affairs journalist and presenter in radio and television with Radio Telefís Éireann. She has a longstanding interest in many issues concerned with justice, equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. The theme of her Presidency is ’Building Bridges’

Other posts held -
  • Director of Channel 4 Television.
  • Director, Northern Ireland Electricity
  • Delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland and to the follow up Pittsburg Conference in 1996.
  • Member of the Catholic Church delegation in 1996 to the North Commission on Contentious Parades.
  • Member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984.
  • Founder member of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas.
—Available during her presidency at

[ top ]

  • Building Bridges, with a foreword by Seamus Heaney (History of Ireland Press 2011), 288pp. [speeches from 14-year presidency].
  • Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law (Blackrock: Columbia Press 2012), 189pp. [see extract].
Articles [sel.]
  • ‘The Long Revolution: The 1916 Rising in Context’ (Conference address at UCD - 27 Jan. 2006), rep. in The Irish Times (28 Jan. 2006, p.6 [see extract].
  • ‘The Opaque Incoherent of a Church in Crisis’ [feature article], in The Irish Times, 13 Oct. 2012, Weekend, p.4 [see extract].


  • Reconciled Being: Love in Chaos [John Main Seminar 1997] (London & Berkhamstead: Medio Media/Arthur James 1997), 122pp. [authorised biography].
  • Betty Purcell, ‘Interview with Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese’, in The Crane Bag [Special Issue: ‘Images of the Irish Woman’], 4, 1 (1980), pp.573-78; Ray Mac Mánais, Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa.
  • Beathnaisnéis (Cló Iar-chonnachta 2003) [q.pp.]; Ray Mac Mánais, The Road from Ardoyne: The Making of a President (Dingle: Brandon Press 2004), 384pp. [by her Irish tutor].
  • Patsy McGarry, First Citizen: Mary McAleese and the Irish Presidency (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2008), 320pp.
  • Pat Walsh, Remember Gallipoli: President McAleese’s Great War Crusade, A Belfast Magazine, 37 (2011), 28pp. [see note.]

[ top ]

Reconciled Being: ‘’I realised I was unthinkingly introducing my children to the Lotto school of prayer. I was treating God as the keeper of the Holy Lotto Balls which can bring my numbers up if I ask and if he chooses. Every time something bad happened, were my children going to think, this is God doing this to me or were they going to feel that God would be with them whatever befell them. How far is the wheedling, self-centred kind of prayer from the prayer that leads to a discovery of in-dwelling presence and to the spiritual broadening and deepening Christ called his disciples to when he called them friends rather than rather than pathetic supplicant.’ (Reconciled Being: Love in Chaos, London & Berkhamstead: Medio Media/Arthur James 1997, p.60.) Note that the text contains quotations from poems of Patrick Kavanagh and John Hewitt.

Presidential Message (Christmas 2000): ‘[…] For Christians, this Christmas Day has a very special significance. But many people of other faiths, and indeed of none, draw hope and inspiration from the simplicity and innocence of that Nativity scene, and from the enduring relevance of its message of love and peace. / Here in Ireland, we are profoundly grateful for the distance we have already travelled in building peace. We are blessed to have so many people of goodwill, whose tireless efforts have transformed Ireland into a beacon of hope for our suffering brothers and sisters in deeply troubled parts of the world, including the very birthplace of Christ himself. / We have been witnesses to the transforming power of goodness and generosity when they touch the political landscape, how they kindle hope, make the future brighter and lift our hearts. In exactly the same way we each have the power to transform the lives of others, to lighten a burden, to make the journey less lonely, less stressful. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children bring love and friendship to each other day in and day out. They make life worthwhile, they make the ideal of “love” believable, they live the Christmas spirit of goodwill all year long.’ [Extract from version published on Ferrie’s Irish Emigrant, Email List & Website, Dec. 2000.]

[ top ]

St. Patrick’s Day Address (17th March 2003): ‘St Patrick’s Greetings from the President Every year the President shares St Patrick’s Day wishes with the Irish around the world. This is her 2003 greeting. Beannachtaí na Feile Pádraig oraibh go leir. Warmest greetings to Irish people around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. On this day of celebration we honour Ireland’s great patron St Patrick and remember with gratitude the legacy of a man who came among us as an unwelcome stranger. Today his name carries our island’s culture and identity to virtually every corner of the earth and in his name people around the world, with and without Irish ancestry, will gather as we do, to commemorate his Feast Day. Through our annual celebrations we confirm the importance of those unique links of friendship which Ireland is privileged to have, the care of which falls to each successive generation. St Patrick’s Day challenges us to focus on the qualities and values that make us proud to be Irish. Our celebrations around the world with such a huge shared effort exemplify our love of country, culture, heritage and hospitality. May they lift hearts, create happy memories and inspire us to renew Patrick’s vision for Ireland as a generous, tolerant, inclusive and peaceful place. I extend my very best wishes to Irish people everywhere for a most enjoyable celebration of this special day. Go neirí go geal libh.’ (Bilingual version given on Ferrie’s Irish Emigrant [email], March 2003.)

St Patrick’s Day Message (17th March 2004): Beannachtai na Feile Padraig ar chlann mhor domhanda na nGael, sa bhaile agus ar fud na cruinne, ar an la naisiúnta ceiliurtha seo. A Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Ireland’s sons and daughters, and indeed to our adopted brothers and sisters, throughout the world. This St Patrick’s Day is a particularly special time for Ireland. Today our national day is celebrated during Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union, when the European family of nations is about to adopt many new members. These are times of great hope for the nations of Europe and this great project will surely be a beacon to the other nations of the world. We welcome those new members and look forward to a future of friendship and fellowship with them and their peoples. St Patrick himself was, of course, a great European whose vision was not bounded by narrow horizons. / Around the world, on this day, we come together to celebrate the music and song, the wit and humour, the friendship and fellowship that is our heritage and our pride. Many friends will join in the festivities here in Ireland and abroad, and will carry with them the richness of fluent and open friendship that signifies our Irishness. Our greatest gift as a people is our openness to new experiences and genuine curiosity about other cultures, while we continue to inspire other nations with our legacy of resilience, versatility, and enthusiasm for whatever the future holds. That great capacity to adapt underlies much of our economic and cultural successes over the past decade. These shared gifts have sustained and encouraged us through every challenge we have faced throughout history. / I am delighted to join with all members of the Irish family and our many friends throughout the world in honouring St Patrick on this special day. Go mbainimís ar fad sult agus aoibhneas as an la speisialta seo. (Published on Ferrie’s Irish Emigrant [email], March 2003.]

Apologies: Mrs McAleese made apologies for comments in a radio interview (“Morning Ireland”, 27 Jan. 2005) where she said that the Nazis had inculcated in their children ‘an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things’. In an interview called in England on the following evening, she said: ‘What I said I undoubtedly said clumsily. I should have finished out the example and it would have been a much better interview had I done that. That was certainly my intention. It was never my intention going into it simply to blame one side of the community in Northern Ireland.’ The apology was accepted by both the Unionist Party and the Orange Order. (See The Irish Times, 29 Jan. 2005.)

Filling the Vacuum (conference held at Céifin centre in Co Clare): President McAleese said she found it hard to believe that Ireland would settle for a ‘greedy, selfish, soulless society, a place of strangers rather than neighbours, of individualised cocoons rather than community’. She also said: said: ‘It is simply unthinkable that our final destination could be the cul-de-sac of complacent consumerism when we are the first generation to have within our reach the great destination of an egalitarian Republic where the strong are driven by a restless and unselfish duty of care for the weak, and where every life is given the chance to fully blossom.’ (See The Irish Times, 9 Nov. 2005.)

[ top ]

‘1916 Rising sought inclusive Ireland’ - McAleese (The Irish Times, 27 Jan. 2006):
‘In the hearts of those who took part in the Rising, in what was then an undivided Ireland, was an unshakable belief that whatever our personal political or religious perspectives, there was huge potential for an Ireland in which loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist, catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic pulled together to build a shared future, owned by one and all.’

The Long Revolution: The 1916 Rising in Context’ (Conference address at UCC - 1 Jan. 2006): ‘Internationally, in 1916, Planet Earth was a world of violent conflicts and armies. It was a world where countries operated on the principle that the strong would do what they wished and the weak would endure what they must. There were few, if any, sophisticated mechanisms for resolving territorial conflicts. Diplomacy existed to regulate conflict, not to resolve it. / It was in that context that the leaders of the Rising saw their investment in the assertion of Ireland’s nationhood. They were not attempting to establish an isolated and segregated territory of “ourselves alone”, as the phrase “sinn féin” is so often mistranslated, but a free country in which we ourselves could take responsibility for our own destiny, a country that could stand up for itself, have its own distinct perspective, pull itself up by its bootstraps, and be counted with respect among the free nations of Europe and the world. / A Google search for the phrase “narrow nationalism” produces about 28,000 results. It is almost as though some people cannot use the word “nationalism” without qualifying it by the word “narrow” But that does not make it correct. / I have a strong impression that to its enemies, both in Ireland and abroad, Irish nationalism looked like a version of the imperialism it opposed, a sort of “imperialism lite” through which Ireland would attempt to be what the great European powers were - the domination of one cultural and ethnic tradition over others. It is easy to see how they might have fallen into that mistaken view, but mistaken they were. / Irish nationalism, from the start, was a multilateral enterprise, attempting to escape the dominance of a single class and, in our case a largely foreign class, into a wider world.’ [Cont.]

‘The Long Revolution: The 1916 Rising in Context’ (UCC, 1 Jan. 2006): ‘Paradoxically in the longer run, 1916 arguably set in motion a calming of old conflicts with new concepts and confidence which, as they mature and take shape, stand us in good stead today. / Our relationship with Britain, despite the huge toll of the Troubles, has changed utterly. In this, the year of the 90th anniversary of the Rising, the Irish and British governments, co-equal sovereign colleagues in Europe, are now working side by side as mutually respectful partners, helping to develop a stable and peaceful future in Northern Ireland based on the Good Friday agreement. / That agreement asserts equal rights and equal opportunities for all Northern Ireland’s citizens. It ends for ever one of the Rising’s most difficult legacies, the question of how the people of this island look at partition. /The constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom is accepted overwhelmingly by the electorate North and South. That position can only be changed by the electorate of Northern Ireland expressing its view exclusively through the ballot-box. / The future could not be clearer. Both unionists and nationalists have everything to gain from treating each other with exemplary courtesy and generosity, for each has a vision for the future to sell, and a coming generation, more educated than any before, freer from conflict than any before, more democratised and globalised than any before, will have choices to make, and those choices will be theirs.’ (Rep. in The Irish Times, 28 Jan. 2006, p.6; see full speech attached; also the organisers’ answer to a hostile response by Kevin Myer, in “Notes”, infra.]

[ top ]

Mount Holyoke College (NY), Commencement Address [extract]: ‘Over 40 years ago, when I was in my mid-teens, I announced at home that I had decided to become a lawyer. The first words I heard in response were, “You can’t because you are a woman.” It was the voice of our parish priest. The next voice I heard was my mother’s, saying, “Don’t listen to him.” To my mother’s surprise, I heeded her advice. A couple of years later, the same year that the first human walked on the Moon, I started law school and our first textbook was called “Learning the Law” by a very eminent jurist, Prof. Glanville Williams. In a chapter ominously entitled “Women,” he stated his views that law school was no place for women and that our voices were too weak to be heard in a courtroom. That man had clearly never met my mother. He reckoned the only thing to be gained by having female law students was the opportunity it provided to meet suitable spouses. I married a dentist, just for spite.’ (New York Times, 14 June 2009.)

Chancellor’s Lecture: given at the University of Ulster [Belfast Campus, York St.], by President Mary McAleese on 22nd April 2010: ‘[...] There are still potential tripwires on the journey ahead. The toxic spores of sectarian attitudes are still embedded and they continue to outcrop in violence and in streets that are unsafe. Too many people still live lives in the false comfort of sectarian ghettoes. The peace dividend is not yet equally distributed and the weight of hurt and loss is still so hard to bear for some that they cannot yet sign up to this new dispensation. There are sorrows to be healed compassionately and patiently and there are some that will never be healed for the dead cannot be returned to us and not all physical or emotional scars can be erased. But those of us who have the gift of life and health have a responsibility to those who do not, to use the breath in our bodies in the decade ahead to make the world around us safer, better, happier, healthier, friendlier.’ (For a longer report, see attached.)

Queen Elizabeth II: Speech greeting the monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, at the State Dinner given in her honour in St. Patrick’s Hall,   Dublin Castle (8 May 2011): ‘[...] It is only right that on this historic visit we should reflect on the difficult centuries which have brought us to this point. Inevitably where there are the colonisers and the colonised, the past is a repository of sources of bitter division. The harsh facts cannot be altered nor loss nor grief erased but with time and generosity, interpretations and perspectives can soften and open up space for new accommodations. / Yesterday, Your Majesty, you visited our Garden of Remembrance and laid a wreath there in honour of the sacrifice and achievement of those who fought against Britain for Irish independence. Today at Islandbridge, just as we did at the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines in 1998, we commemorated together the thousands of Irishmen who gave their lives in British uniform in the Great War. / As the first citizen of Ireland, like my fellow countrymen and women, I am deeply proud of Ireland’s difficult journey to national sovereignty. I am proud of how we have used our independence to build a republic which asserts the religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities not just of all its citizens but of all human beings. I am particularly proud of this island’s peace-makers who having experienced first-hand the appalling toxic harvest of failing to resolve old hatreds and political differences, rejected the perennial culture of conflict and compromised enough to let a new future in. / The Good Friday Agreement represented a fresh start and committed us all to partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of future relationships. [...] (For extracts from Queen Elizabeth’s speech, and a full-text version of both speeches, see attached.)

[ top ]

Quo Vadis?: ‘Today the best experts of the church cannot coherently explain the church’s governance structures or their juridic infrastructure. [Such a glaring lack is in some way imputable to the failure of Vatican II] to articulate clear guidelines for the future development of conciliar collegiality or church governance at any level.’ (Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law, Columbia Press 2012; quoted by Eamon Maher in review of same, The Irish Times, 29 Oct. 2012, Weekend, p.10.)

Note: the contemporary rules and principles for the governance of the Church are set out in the the papal bull Lumen Gentium, otherwise “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on Nov. 21 1964”, where the issue of collegiacy - viz., the college of bishops - is weighed against the precept of papal supremacy (or infallibility), the latter being attested in an appendix which runs counter to the sense of the passages it refers to (Chap. III: “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the Episcopate”). See in particular the fourth article of the appendix which preliminarily asserts: ‘As Supreme Pastor of the Church, the Supreme Pontiff can always exercise his power at will, as his very office demands [...]’

The Opaque Incoherent of a Church in Crisis’ [feature article], in The Irish Times, 13 Oct. 2012, Weekend, p.4: ‘The hopes that Vatican II would create a pathway to reform of governance have not yet been realised and the road map it left is barely intelligible. There are many varieties of organisational model throughout the world, few of which nowadays match the solitariness of the church’s primatial rule. / There is no forum in the church for determining the views of the People of God on the subject of governance and collegiality, or virtually anything else for that matter. They have never been asked for their views, and there is an abhorrence at the centre of the dangers of being governed by opinion polls. [...] In the early part of the 20th century, fewer than 10 per cent of the nations of the world were democracies. [...] The church has been challenged by both the changes and the speed at which life is being transformed. Those who live in the world’s growing number of democracies have considerable freedom of expression in the civil sphere but highly restricted freedom of expression in the religious sphere. / Reconciling both spheres can be difficult [...] Could church teaching on homosexuality be the new psychological child-abuse issue of the coming decade? [...] Today’s world of increasingly democratic and inclusive secular structures makes solitary centralised authorities look like an ebb tide. [... A]re we in a process of ongoing conversion or irreconcilable division, a journey towards greater collegiality or enduring primatialism in an increasingly fragmented church? Some might argue, whither collegiality, whither the church. [...]’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or as attached.)

[ top ]

Building plans: Plans of Dr. Martin McAleese to built hilltop house on shores of Lough Eidin in Co. Roscommon rejected by An Bórd Plannála on grounds that the house would be ‘highly obstrusive and visually damaging’ to the scenic character of the area, while the planned driveway would be ‘an elevated scar across an open field’ as would a planned jetty. Disturbances to migratory species and the use of tiles instead of slates with a uPVC Georgian townhouse-style doorway were included in the points cited by Mr. Kevin Moore, the planning inspector in a 22pp. report. Objections to the plan were raised by An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment and upheld by the Bórd although the second-named visited the wrong site. (Irish Times, 10 Feb. 2001, p.7.)

UUC DLitt: An honorary degree was conferred on Mary McAleese at the University of Ulster on Friday, 9 Nov. 2001, in ‘recognition of the President’s exemplary work for cultural integration, respect for all traditions and justice’. He added, ‘Her special interests in education and inclusion, in Ireland and in the developing world, defined her Presidency’. The encomium was delivered by Professor Denise McAlister, Dean of Fac. of Social Sciences. President McAleese launched a two-day symposium of the RIA on Modern Languages in her capacity as Patron of the European Year of Languages in Ireland. (UU News, Nov. 2001.)

Pro & Contra (1): Dermot Keogh and Gabriel Doherty, organisers of the “Long Revolution” conference (UCC, Jan. 2006), write to dispute Kevin Myers remarks on the supposed ‘underlying agenda’ of the conference, pointing out that the speakers were requested to ‘employ language that would respect both the [academic] tenor of the event [...] and the expression of contrary opinions’, questioning how Myers, who was not present, could divine any such an ‘underlying agenda’ in his assessment of the line-up of the speakers (which included a QUB professor of history, a Supreme Court judge and various published scholars from Ireland and France incl. Garret Fitzgerald and Margaret MacCurtain. ‘More worryingly, it [Myers article] suggests a mind-set that categorises the work of those who undertake scholarly research on the Rising using simplistic, misleading and mutually exclusive labels’. (The Irish Times, Letters, 4 Feb. 2006.)

Pro & Contra (2): A second letter, by Breifne Walker, CSSp (Holy Spirit Community, Whitehall Rd., Dublin) commends McAleese for a thoughtful address encouraging honest public debate, but addes that the use of violent force in 1916 should be seen against the background of the facts described by Professor J. J. Lee: ‘No later nationalist managed to improve on [John] Redmond’s performance’. He speaks of the persons and families of Irish policemen and soldiers killed in 1916, and frames the ironic question: ‘What are a few hundred deaths compared with the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the freedoms which are believe to have followed?’, adding that the insurrection ‘provided endless legitimacy for this sinister moral calculus’. He concludes: ‘Violence always has its good reasons. For the sake of our humanity and our moral clarity, we need to explain to ourselves why we deplore the middle Eastern killers of innocent people on videotape, and why we choose to celebrate the Easter Rising of 1916.’ (Irish Times, 4 Feb. 2006).

Pro & Contra (3): Among num. journalistic responses to President McAleese’s speech can be counted Stephen Collins who writes in his “Inside Politics” Irish Times column that ‘[b]y deciding to elevate the 1916 Rising above all other historical events as the key episode in the creation of the modern Irish State, the Government is in danger of undermining its own case in the politics of the present. / Far from talking a weapon away from Sinn Féin, in the run-up to the next general election, the Government runs the risk of handing the republication movement a justification for continuings some of the activities it has been engaged in over the past 35 years.’ (Irish Times, [28 Jan. 2006].)

Church (es) of Ireland: Mary McAleese received Holy Communion administered under the Anglican rite of the Church of Ireland at a Service of Reconciliation in Christ Church [var. St. Patrick’s] Cathedral, Sun. 7th Dec. 1997, becoming the first Roman Catholic President to do so - a widely-approved gesture which some Catholic clergy including notably Denis Faul objected to. Later Archbishop Connell (Dublin Dioc.) referred to as a ‘sham’ (vide interview in Sunday Business Post, 18 Feb. 2001). Those who objected to her doing so held that Communion signifies accord with the precepts of the church in question which, in the case of the Anglican communion, includes denial of the efficacy of the Catholic sacrament. In 2011 Diarmid Martin, the succeeding Archbishop of Dublin, read a lesson at the installation of Michael Jackson as Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, also in Christ Church Cathedral, 7 May 2011. The retiring archbishop Walter Empey was also present. (See Irish Times, 9 May 2011.)

The 1st Tyneside Irish  - formed from people of Irish extraction who lived in the North East of England and who had joined the Northumberland Fusiliers - suffered 620 casualties on 1 July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme (18 officers and 602 other ranks), while the 4th Tyneside Irish suffered 539 casualties (20 officers and 519 other ranks). Their colour (battle flag) hangs in St Mary’s RC Cathedral, Newcastle, and was officially unveiled by Mary McAleese in c.2004. (Diaspora Irish studies list, Bradford: 20 June 2006.)

Pat Walsh, Remember Gallipoli (Belfast 2011) - argues that we should commemorate the participation of the Irish in the landings at Gallipoli in the same spirit as the Australians - that is, celebrate their courage but also to remember the folly of British policy. To this extent it is not about President McAleese so much as about the politics of embracing Irish war-participation as a manifestation of right against wrong on the world stage. (See Books Ireland, May 2010.)

Comunione e Liberazione - Italian Catholic lay organisation: Prominent member Roberto Formigoni, regional president of Lombardy/Milan for 17 years and long-term ally of Silvio Berlusconi, was forced to dissolve his government in the wake of Mafia-related revelations triggered by Roberto Saviano's suggestion on state television that the ’Ndrangheta [mafia] were still deeply entrenched, and evidence that Domenco Zambetti of his administration was passing six-figure sums to the ’Ndrangheta in return for a ‘packet’ of 4,000 votes. Paddy Agnew writes: ‘Arguably a key player in the Lombardy/Milan meltdown [...] Formigoni [...] is also a prominent member of Italy's influential Catholic lay movement Comunione e Liberazione. (The former president Mary McAleese and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, spoke at the movement’s high-profile annual summer meeting in Rimini two years ago.) Formigoni is also the man who has Nicole Minette, the 27-year-old former dental hygienist accued of [...] accused of organising the ‘ladies’ for Silva Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga nights, elected on his list two years ago.’ (See Agnew, review, ‘The man at the heart of Milan’s meltdown’, in The Irish Times, 20 Oct. 2012, Weekend [News Review], p.4.)

Gay Pride: Mary McAleese, interviewing GAA President Jarlath Burns (otherwise headmaster at St. Paul"s, Newry) about the terror experienced by her gay son Justin in Irish Catholic Schools, among them Belvedere College from which she withdrew him in 1999. (See The Allenwood Conversations at Changing Times, RTE, being interviews conducted by Mary McAleese and Mary Kennedy (former RTE presenter). See Irish Times (24.03.2024) - online.

See remarks at the death of John McGahern [as infra].

[ top ]