LAST year, our American-Irish Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, racked up a whopping €12,340 bill on a St Patrick’s Day junket to her homeland.
Temporary migration, as we all know, is a seasonal custom among politicos at this time of the year – with the political elite having a preference for very ‘far flung fields’ such as the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia.
This year Ms Zap’s itinerary was more modest – a humdrum social call without much specific purpose to the Irish College in Rome, a seminary that a few years ago was mired in the sort of controversy typical of such places.
The trip also mentioned ‘a visit to the Holy See in the context of the ambassador’s residence,’ but the information was so vague that it prompted suggestions that Ms Zap’s jollifications on Paddy’s Day might have been designed by a civil service functionary with a bolshie sense of humour.
But, as with any smart politico at the receiving end of a cost-cutting bum’s rush, she made the most of the situation, recognising an opportunity for some cheapo publicity and for making a headline or two.
Here’s what she said: ‘I will be there (in Rome) as a senior minister from Ireland and bring a respect for different aspects of the tradition but certainly not the misogyny of the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.’
After much effort, we managed to decipher the lingo and concluded that one of the purposes of Ms Zap’s visit to the Holy City was to tell the world that the Catholic Church was … wait for it … misogynistic!
Of course, if we accept such an allegation as true, we can presume that she included the boss, the supreme pontiff, as suffering from the same complaint.
Now, ‘misogynistic’ is a nasty word to describe the disposition of a person who has a hatred of, or mistrust towards, the fairer sex. It is not often used to describe an institution, for which reason she disturbed our refined linguistic sensibilities.
Particularly since Ms Zap was sent to Rome to represent the people of Ireland and to celebrate with Italians the fact that St Patrick was our primary patron saint, venerated not only by Catholics, but also by the Anglican Community (especially the Church of Ireland) as the founder of Christianity in Ireland!
But, as with the celebration of Christmas, perhaps Ms Zap kinda forgot the true meaning of St Patrick’s Day and that traditionally it is celebrated both as a religious and a cultural holiday. For Catholics, it remains a Holy Day of Obligation.
Of course, we accept that there may be some truth in her assertion that some people within the Catholic Church are misogynous and that the Church itself (for all we know or care) is bigoted, outdated, condemnatory and self-righteous.
But surely, on the day that was in it, she should not have tried to exploit the commemoration of our Patron Saint by taking a trendy swipe at the Vatican and, by implication, at the Pope.
Ms Zap should cop herself on!
Great news for Jim
Oh, and by the way, did you know that our distinguished Mini-minister for Ancient Crocks, Jim Daly, was allocated a rather juicy Paddy’s Day junket, to Australia and New Zealand? Estimated cost? Around twelve thousand smackers!
Hopefully, Our Jim kept up to date on De Paper’s great news concerning the success of Cork County Council’s Gateway scheme.
The scheme, much promoted by the TD, helped unemployed people get back to work and enabled jobseekers to trouser a whopping €20 on top of their dole payments should they be recruited to temporary posts within the council!
Begrudgers typically described the scheme as forced labour and a flop, but as a recent meeting of the council revealed, 22 participants were recruited to temporary posts. One person was given a permanent position as a foreman and eight employed as general operatives!
Surely that’s good news? Innit?
Eye on Russia
And now for something different: Former British ambassador, Craig Murray, had an interesting ‘take’ on the poisoning of spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal, who worked as a double agent for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service from 1995 until his arrest in Moscow in 2004. Convicted of high treason, he was released under a UK-Russia spy swap and settled in the UK.
But, according to the ex-ambassador, it didn’t make sense for the Russians to have attempted Skripal’s assassination. ‘If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup,’ he recently argued in a website article, entitled ‘Russian to Judgement.’
He said the Russians had never killed a swapped spy before and that just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel are the least likely to destroy a system that can be a key aspect of their own personal security.
‘Quite literally, spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card,’ he said. ‘You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.’
Instead Craig Murray points the finger of suspicion at Israel which, he says, has the nerve agents as well as a ruthless murder squad, Mossad, that is skilled in foreign assassinations.
He points out that Israel had clear motivation for besmirching Russia’s reputation. ‘Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and lsrael had every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack whose intention was to leave the blame on that country,’ he claimed.
Be prepared here
In light of all that, we hope the Gardaí and Special Branch are keeping a close eye on Israeli embassy officials because we should not forget the criminal meddling in our affairs that the rogue State has had.
In 2010, a murderous Israeli gang operating out of Dublin, and with the connivance of their Embassy, stole the passport identities of innocent Irish citizens and used them to facilitate the brutal murder of a political opponent in Dubai.
Earlier this month, the Israeli government directly interfered with an Irish bank in an attempt to damage the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a critic of the Zionist state.
According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the Israeli government directly lobbied Allied Irish Bank and a large investments shareholder in order to force the closure of ‘scores’ of accounts, including that of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Ironically, AIB is 75% owned by the Irish State!