Well Ireland has certainly been in the news over the last week or so. Firstly the first visit by a British head of state since 1911 and now the first visit by the US's first African American president, who is also claiming Irish ancestry via the tiny village of Moneygall in County Offaly. His nearest relative shares the same surname as mine (Healy) and apparently his ancestor was a shoemaker who emigrated to the US shortly after the Great Famine in 1850. For many Irish emigration was the only hope for improvement in a land ravaged by famine and injustice. Today this continues to be the case with many young Irish emigrating to Canada and Australia in particular. Indeed there will be a petition presented to Obama in Dublin to recognise the case of the undocumented Irish in the US, who may be covered by any amnesty on migration, which the President is already considering.
He will certainly imbibe some of the black stuff in the village pub, unlike her Maj who turned her nose up at the stuff in the Guinness brewery last week. But he is also due to give a large public address to the people in College Green in Dublin later today and it will be interesting to see if he addresses the problems of cuts and toxic banks and the deficit, which are ravaging Ireland at present. Indeed until now his administration has set its face against the policies being pursued across Europe and which are leading to the demonstrations in Spain and Greece and the mounting sense of anger and resistance across the continent. But the election of the Tea Party candidates in the US and the resulting blockage in the US legislature is producing economic policies which are the opposite of what his government has been supporting up to now.
His speech at the weekend about the 1967 borders was encouraging but he must now continue the pressure on Israel to give territory and concessions to the Palestinians. The real danger is that Bush's wars could become Obama's wars and disengagement from Afghanistan must be on the agenda, together with a complete realignment of US foreing policy vis a vis the dictatorships in the Arab world.
In the interim, the Irish group, the Corrigans, have composed this charming ditty to welcome him to Moneygall. A real bit of blarney!