President gives real meaning to quest for peace and reconciliation

NO one has done more in the past decade or so to give meaning and definition to our continued quest for peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland than President Mary McAleese in her two terms of office, whether in greeting the English rugby team at Croke Park or Lansdowne Road or in sharing communion with communicants of the Church of Ireland in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

Nothing she has done, in my opinion, will prove to be more important than her visit to Gallipoli to reclaim (surely on behalf of all of us) the heroic Irish dead left behind on the shores of Cape Helles (Dublin and Munster Fusiliers) on April 25, 1915 and at Anzac Cove (one brigade of the Tenth (Irish) Division) and Suvla Bay (two brigades of the Tenth (Irish) Division) in August 1915.

Gallipoli, as Dr Patrick Walsh rightly tells us (Irish Examiner, March 23) “cost us more than soldiers”.

The losses of Trinity College Dublin in Gallipoli were a grievous blow to the college (more than 50 men, including Mary McAleese’s predecessor as Reid Professor of Law) and define for us the nature of the loss that we have borne largely in silence to this very day.

They signified the death of the great cause transformed by the genius of Charles Stewart Parnell and carried to this tragic conclusion by his disciple from Clongowes and Trinity, John Redmond. It is time for us to show, in March 2010, that their sacrifice in the great constitutional and democratic struggle for Home Rule was not in vain.

Gerald Morgan

School of English

Trinity College

Dublin 2

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