Sunday :: Jun 27, 2004

George's Irish Wake

by pessimist

George Warmonger Bush is on a campaign to show the European Union, meeting in Ireland, what a nice guy he is so that they will send help to bail out his lame ass from the IraQuagmire. Somehow, things didn't quite go as Karl Rove would have planned.

Combining his diplomatic hat-in-hand act with a electoral campaign Photo Op, Bush is seeking to show that he's a world statesman while pandering to the Irish vote. The only problem for him is the Irish people aren't buying it.

Thousands turn out in Ireland to protest war as Bush arrives

ENNIS, Ireland - Despite generations of warm feelings between Americans and the Irish, President Bush received a less-than-hearty welcome when he set foot in Ireland yesterday, with thousands of protesters around the country demonstrating against his actions in Iraq. With all sides expecting no significant progress toward new troop or financial commitments to assist U.S.-led forces in Iraq, the trip is increasingly seen as a struggle between local populations eager to register dismay with Washington's policies and a White House determined to avoid confrontation.

The Galway of it all! It's enough to get one's Irish up!

Thousands of protesters set up a camp outside the security cordon around Shannon, with local shops donating food and passing vehicles honking in solidarity. Naval vessels patrolled the nearby Shannon estuary, arresting three would-be protesters hoping to make their views known from offshore. Other rallies - pointedly anti-Bush, not anti-American - took place in cities across Ireland, including Galway, Waterford, Tralee, Sligo and Dublin, where police estimated that 10,000 gathered in the city center, presided over by the city's new mayor, Michael Conaghan.

"The Irish - devotees of Kennedy, skeptical admirers of Reagan, rapturous cheerleaders for Clinton - have fallen out of love with the American presidency," Stefanie Marsh wrote in a commentary in The Times of London. "In Ireland, an American president has for the first time become an overwhelming figure of hate."

Stepping out to a cold Irish welcome

Smiling and waving, George Bush glided down the steps of Air Force One at Shannon airport last night, seemingly unfazed by his tag as the most unwelcome American ever to set foot on Irish soil. The president and his wife, Laura, were spared the sight of thousands of Irish protesters at the airport entrance and whisked off in an armoured Cadillac to the 16th century Dromoland castle in County Clare. Irish demonstrators were resolute. "No red carpet for killer Bush," said a placard in a hedgerow.

Pretzels are off the menu at his working lunch with European statesmen. But what Mr Bush has been choking on recently is the gristle of the Irish media. Expecting nothing more than a gentle probing from a friendly state which America "helped" to prosper, he gave the first White House interview to an Irish journalist for 20 years. The interview was intended as a cordial start to the president's first visit to the Irish Republic. Some claim the summit was tailored to give Mr Bush a pre-election media-opportunity for the 50 million or so Irish folk back home. But RTE's Washington correspondent, Carole Coleman, was not about to let Mr Bush off the hook. In an interview broadcast on television and a radio breakfast show she persisted with questions about dead US soldiers, torture, the issue of making the world a more dangerous place, and being disliked. "I don't really try to chase popularity polls," the president said.

The visit was accompanied by the inevitable anti-Bush demonstrations in Shannon, Dublin and several other cities. Three protesters, including Edward Horgan, a leading peace activist and former officer in the Irish army, were arrested on board a boat on the River Shannon yesterday afternoon. Radio phone-in shows - the barometer of Irish life - have been flooded with anti-Bush callers.

Irish batten down hatches for Bush

Every summer since the invention of the jet, Ireland has been invaded by Americans. The country of "a hundred thousand welcomes" regularly opens its arms to its transatlantic cousins, whose investment has fuelled its economic boom. But this weekend's visit by George Bush, the US president, has turned tradition on its head.

More than 170 Irish lawyers signed a petition against Mr Bush this week. Fergal Kavanagh, who was defence counsel for a Rwandan government minister accused of war crimes at the UN tribunal, said Mr Bush should be arrested by Irish police when his plane lands if it emerged that he had knowledge of the torture of prisoners in Iraq. Brendan Nix, a barrister, said: "I find the thought that President Bush will use Ireland to get re-elected very disturbing."

Mary O'Rourke, leader of the Irish senate, said she had turned down the US embassy dinner to mark Mr Bush's visit. She said: "I have no animosity for the US but I have animosity for the president who pushed through the war policy in the absence of a UN mandate."

Anti-Bush protests have been gathering momentum for weeks. The Irish folk singer Christy Moore has recorded an anti-Bush single with Damien Rice called Lonely Soldier. Proceeds will help the anti-war movement. White peace flags have gone up around Dublin, which will be the venue for a big anti-war protest tonight.

Anti-war protesters say they are being censored by a government desperate to keep a lid on demonstrations. The Irish Anti-War Movement is considering legal action against the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland after its adverts were taken off air.

Six thousand police and Irish army personnel and nearly 1,000 US and private security guards have shut down a swath of County Clare, sealing manholes, building security fences and sparking rumours that local a golf course is being scoured with metal detectors. Some indignant residents issued with passes and forced to name all those living in their homes have likened it to life under the notorious Black and Tans, British police auxiliaries of the 1920s.

Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said this week Ireland must welcome Mr Bush as the US has invested $4.7 bn (2.58bn) in Ireland last year. But Greg Duff, the Labour mayor of Shannon, said economic arguments were a smokescreen. He said: "George Bush is a menace. He should not be coming to Shannon. In Clare, we're not anti-US. We greet Americans well as tourists but we don't like to see them arriving in uniform."

Protesters 'drive' Bush from Ireland

Irish protesters used Shakespeare to blitz George W. Bush on Saturday, invoking Macbeth, a ghost and a witch to cast a spell on the U.S. president and drive him, symbolically at least, from Irish soil. First, a ghost with a whited-out face read the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Then a woman dressed as Lady Macbeth read a list of Iraqi victims. Finally, a woman dressed as a witch with a black pointy hat and a flowing cape cast a spell on a man wearing a Bush face mask. The man crumpled to the floor as the witch ordered him to leave Ireland and end the occupation of Iraq.

The protesters held up a banner adorned with a quote from Macbeth, Shakespeare's powerful drama of death, destruction and ambition in feudal Scotland. "There's the smell of blood still," read the banner, on which was painted a gory hand. "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

The staging of "MacBush" was one of several events organised by demonstrators to show their anger with the president's visit. Some 10,000 people marched through Dublin on Friday night in opposition to both U.S. policy in Iraq and Ireland's decision to host Bush and allow U.S. jets to refuel at one of its airports en route to the Gulf.

Bush's visit has contrasted sharply with those of previous U.S. presidents who were warmly welcomed in Ireland -- particularly those with Irish roots. John F. Kennedy was greeted with almost religious fervor in 1963, Ronald Reagan had a pub named after him in his ancestral village in Tipperary when he came in 1994 and thousands of well wishers greeted Bill Clinton when he came to Dublin.

[Ireland's Greeting for Bush Compared to the Greeting for Bill Clinton]

The Irish have mounted a huge security operation to protect the president, with 6,000 police and troops on the ground backed by planes, helicopters, surface-to-air missiles and tanks. "One can only assume that if (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern is prepared to deploy tanks, he is also prepared to use them on the Irish people," said Roger Cole, chairman of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance protest group. "That is a disgrace."

Photos of Dublin Protests

Sure, and Begorrah! The people of Ireland have a clue as to what to do about George Warmonger Bush. Will they be setting the example for their American cousins?

pessimist :: 8:35 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!