Jude Collins

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Mary McAleese, a private jet and a sick girl

 Meadhbh McGivern must be feeling pretty sick this morning, in both senses of the word.  She needs a kidney transplant and  apparently President Mary McAleese’s private jet was available, on her return from the wedding of Prince Whathisname in Monaco, to take the fourteen-year-old to London for the operation. But wouldn't you know it, the health authorities in the south managed to screw things up by opting for travel by a slower means, the Coast Guard helicopter,  to King’s College Hospital in London, and so the chance was lost.

The incident raises a number of questions.  Three of the more obvious:

·       How come, despite the billions and billions  that came pouring into the state during the Celtic Tiger years, nothing remotely resembling a decent health service was  established in the twenty-six counties?
·       It’s nice of President McAleese to have made the private jet available; but what does she need it for in the first place? Could she not have gritted her teeth and settled for First Class on a scheduled flight? More generally, why do political leaders and heads of state have to travel in big cars and private planes when they go somewhere?  Is it so the people who elected them will feel this shows the neighbours we’re important? Or is it that the people who elected them have been conned into believing that luxury for leaders and penury for ordinary people is the way God planned it?
·       What in the name of the same God was Mary McAleese doing at that charade of a wedding between that eejit Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock? I got ambushed by it on TV news a couple of times and I promise you, I had to hide behind the sofa with a cushion over my head. Ex-cruc-iating.  Albert made Prince Charles look like he was mad about Diana. Yet Mary McAleese, courtesy of the Irish taxpayer, travelled all that distance for…that?  Padraig Pearse must be whirling like a turbo-prop propeller in his grave.

Meanwhile young Meadhbh McGivern lies waiting for a transplant, ill and helpless. The twenty-six counties should issue a stamp with her on it. She embodies the condition of the southern state exactly.  


  1. "It’s nice of President McAleese to have made the private jet available"

    -Nice? Come on Jude. You can do better!! Its a 'very nice' gesture.

    President McAleese makes a very strong argument for a President over a Monarch by her just being a good person. Can you imagine any other Presidents or Monarchs making their private jet available for a sick kid? Not a chance.. kids on Air Force One? God no, kids on any RAF plane.. not in a million years..

    Mary McAleese is showing the best of the Irish people by her good will and consideration for young Meadhbh, if that means she needs a private jet to show the world what sort of people we are proud to be on this island then its surely a price worth paying?

  2. Jude; I loved this one, and sympathise that you have to contend with correspondents who seem to think that pride in the island of Ireland is appropriately maintained by keeping a very kind and intelligent President equipped with a monarchical jet. The weakness of Ireland is that very need to maintain some kind of spurious 'pride', of the kind we saw on display in Phoenix Park at Easter, instead of coolly appraising where it is in the world and how it can rescue its impoverished political past form the debris of British rule. Abroad, Ireland is respected for its work and aid in Africa, and for the contribution its Army makes to the UN. This recession is surely a fortuitous space to have another go at building a polity at home, establishing a socially just health service, and to cultivate a business ethos that strives to serve the country, not private pockets.

    My big reservation about your piece is that it is weakened by giving space to a purely contingent connection with the President's flight to Monaco, and the revolting display of wealth and insincerity revealed there. The first two points you make are much more important, and risk being trivialised by association with the more trivial aspects of international diplomacy - which I assume to have been President McAleese's reason for going.

  3. Jude- Well said. It's a strange world.

  4. To visit such interesting places prefer a Private Jet which will really add more luxury to your trip.