With the departure of Senator David Norris from the electoral field, it’s time to have another look at Fine Gael’s candidate for the office of Uachtarán na hÉireann, Gay Mitchell MEP. As I outlined earlier, Mitchell has some interesting friends. Firstly there is Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, who is a conservative Christian preacher with links to America’s right-wing Tea Party and several controversial figures in the US. Including the former TV rabble-rouser Glenn Beck. As ABC News described her involvement in the 2010 rally organised by Beck in Washington DC:
‘King, the niece of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. and daughter of his brother activist A. D. King, is currently the director of African-American outreach at the pro-life group Priests for Life and has recently stepped into the spotlight after several appearances on Beck’s radio program.
“I am attending this rally to help reclaim America,” she told “Good Morning America’s” Ron Claiborne today from Capitol Hill. “I’m joining Glenn to talk about faith, hope, charity, honor. Those are things that America needs to reclaim. Our children need to remember to love each other how to honor each other, their parents, God and their neighbors. I agree with Glenn on all of those principles. So that’s why I’m here. For me it’s principles over politics.”’
Mitchell invited King to Ireland in June 2010 where she met senior members of Fine Gael, including our present Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as outlined on the (American-based) PNCI anti-abortion site:
‘Dr. Alveda King took the message that the civil rights movement of today is the pro-life movement to Dublin at the invitation of Gay Mitchell, Member of the European Parliament from Ireland. Mr. Mitchell warmly welcomed Dr. King and introduced her to members of the Irish Parliament, including Enda Kenny, leader of the Fine Gael party.’
One wonders if Gay and Enda discussed with Alveda King her views on homosexuality, described in the ABC News report above?
‘Earlier this month King grabbed headlines when she equated gay marriage with genocide.
“It is statistically proven that the strongest institution that guarantees procreation and continuity of the generations is marriage between one man and one woman,” King said at an Atlanta rally. “We don’t want genocide. We don’t want to destroy the sacred institution of marriage.”’
Certainly the FG MEP had plenty of time to do so when he was chatting to Alveda, as you can hear in this interview from the radio station near98fm where:
‘Gay Mitchell MEP introduces Dr. Alveda King and shares with the audience his concerns at the lack of willingness within the European Parliament to address the issue of pregnancy terminations and the impact it is having in distorting the balance in genders, particularly where it is being used to ensure sex selection.
He outlines his contributions to this debate both, in An Dáil and the European Parliament, and calls for an Irish debate on the matter that is inclusive and based on respect for human dignity.’
Aspects of King’s Christian fundamentalist agenda are examined further on the Grio:
‘Alveda King has been on the campaign circuit for more than a decade pushing a discriminatory, anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, hard right family values message. In 1998, she barnstormed the country speaking at rallies against gay rights legislation. Alveda wasn’t the only King family member to stump for a hard right agenda in opposition to abortion and gay rights. Her cousin, Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, has preached the hell and damnation line against what she considers heathens. In her view, that’s liberals, progressives, feminists, gay rights advocates, and modern day civil rights leaders. In case anyone missed the King family connection, her group was named “King for America.”
Gay rights groups everywhere countered King’s “repent and save yourself” message to gays by citing public statements by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, in which she said that her husband would be a champion of gay rights if he were alive.
Alveda and Bernice, and other black evangelicals have marched, protested, written letters and petitions denouncing gay marriage and abortion. Some polls even show that black evangelicals’ hostility to gay marriage is much stronger than that of white evangelicals.’
King of course was far more explicit in 1998:
‘”God hates racism and God hates homosexuality,” Alveda King told the group in a speech after leading them in prayer.’
Well… that says it all really, doesn’t it?
Now on to the right-wing Italian MEP Rocco Buttiglione. It has been claimed that several leading figures in the European Parliament defended Buttiglione after his extreme views were aired in the legislature, the ripples from which continued to plague EU affairs:
‘Europe’s outgoing Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs tonight backed anti-gay Italian Rocco Buttiglione to take over the job as planned and not step down because of his personal views.
Portuguese Socialist Antonio Vitorino said he did not agree with the anti-gay opinions of the staunch Catholic Italian right-winger, but said personal moral beliefs should not interfere with the Commission’s handling of issues of fundamental rights and civil liberties.
The support came after Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso moved to quell a European Parliament rebellion against his new Commission team because of Mr Buttiglione’s views.
The Italian has condemned homosexuality as a “sin”, described women’s primary role as having children and being protected by the male, and attacked single mothers as “not very good people”.
But centre-right MEPs said they would vote “solidly” for Mr Barroso’s selected Commissioner, including the outspoken Italian.
The fact that Mr Buttiglione predecessor has now thrown his weight behind Mr Buttiglione may discourage some centre-left MEPs from taking drastic action in next Wednesday’s vote.’
Another interesting facet of Gay Mitchell’s career is his membership of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, an influential but little known Catholic lay organisation whose origins are described by the sympathetic American-based media outlet Zenit:
‘As Christianophobia continues to spread and Church teaching threatens to become taboo in Western politics, how can Christian politicians best be encouraged to speak out in defense of the faith?
The answer may lie in the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Founded exactly two years ago by a small group of Catholic European parliamentarians and politicians, the body is made up of working groups in several parliaments with a view to spreading worldwide.
Its aim, according to Benjamin Harnwell, the institute’s founding chairman, is to be a platform through which Christian politicians can better present coherent, moderate and mainstream responses to the growing number of radical and extremist secularists in public life.’
The report continues:
‘”The way militant secularists work is by picking off key people through a mixture of character assassination, intimidation and bullying, so we’re bringing together people who feel self-consciously part of this convoy, in order not to leave them so isolated and open to such sniper attacks.”
The institute is currently setting up an international office in Rome — in addition to its base in the European Parliament — which will help coordinate these working groups. The basic principles of the institute are set out in its “Universal Declaration of Human Dignity,” originally devised by Harnwell, and Irish Member of Parliament Gay Mitchell, and British Member of Parliament Nirj Deva.’
Okay. Not in the least bit paranoid then. But at least there is our Gay (Mitchell, that is) and his role as one of the key authors in the creation of the principles adopted by the organisation – apparently.
‘The institute’s chairman also laments that governments are, for instance, at pains to speak about the positive contribution Muslims make to society, but rarely the good that Christians have to offer. And he argues that this huge degree of ideological intolerance, explicitly against Christians, is growing. He cited in particular the recent prosecution of two Christian owners of a Bed and Breakfast business who declined to give a room to a homosexual couple. “That would never have happened 10 years ago,” says Harnwell, a native of Leicestershire, England. “These test cases start off being on the periphery of a bell curve and within a generation, they are within its very center.”’
Ah. So now we begin to see some of the Institute’s agenda. But it gets worse, with a flash of déjà vu:
‘Harnwell originally came up with the idea of creating the institute after the Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione was forced in 2004 to withdraw his nomination as the European Union’s new commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security because of his Catholic views on homosexuality and women.’
‘”This is when my boss, Nirj Deva, suggested I go to speak to Gay Mitchell, former Europe Minister and hugely respected Irish Member of Parliament, with whom we had both worked on the Development Committee, to ask him to take political leadership of this concept,” he says. Together with Mitchell and Deva, he formulated a charter for the European Parliament’s working group on human dignity that would later become the institute’s declaration.’
Oh dear. Are you saying that Gay Mitchell helped create a charter later co-opted by a Christian group operating within the European Parliament some of whose members have, um, dubious views on homosexuality? Surely not!
‘A number of senior Christian politicians have been happy to put their name to the new venture: Cardinal Renato Martino, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is the institute’s honorary president. Rocco Buttiglione and Otto von Habsburg are patrons.
Meanwhile, working groups are already under way in several countries and institutions including Italy and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. The respected pro-life campaigner Lord Alton of Liverpool launched the UK working group, at which Alveda King was guest speaker…’
Would that be Alveda King, well known conservative homophobe and friend of Gay Mitchell? And Rocco Buttiglione, equally well known conservative homophobe and also a friend of Gay Mitchell?
And just in case you’re wondering who Otto von Hapsburg is, that would be the late Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, described here:
‘The death has been announced of Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, eldest son of the Blessed Charles of Austria, at the age of 98.
Archduke Otto was Patron of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, Honorary President of the Institute, has said, “It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest defenders of the Catholic faith and human dignity. Even well into his 90s, Otto von Habsburg campaigned tirelessly to uphold Europe’s Christian values and the sanctity of all human life. Indeed it is a testimony to his deep sense of purpose and conviction that, despite his increasing frailty, he agreed to become a patron of the Institute last year.
As the head of one of Europe’s most influential families, he became particularly disturbed by the rise of the great totalitarian ideologies, and fought equally against both National Socialism and International Socialism at significant risk to his own life.
Otto von Habsburg’s father, (Emperor) Blessed Karl of Austria, instilled in him from an early age that the office of a ruler is one of holy service and selfless sacrifice for the good of the peoples entrusted to him. It was a philosophy that would influence him all his life. He will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts and prayers at this time are turned towards the repose of Otto’s soul, the consolation of his family, and loss of the people of Austria; and we trust in the mercy of God that today this holy, humble man beholds the face of Jesus Christ, now into eternity.”’
Wow. It seems that Gay Mitchell may mix in some fairly exclusive circles, well above us mere mortals, among the old Roman Catholic aristocracy of Western Europe. The Independent describes the funeral of von Habsburg:
‘Lederhosen-clad Tyrollean guardsmen hoisted the coffin of Archduke Otto von Habsburg on to their shoulders yesterday, and laid the eldest son of Austria’s last emperor to rest in a pomp-filled ceremony evocative of the country’s past grandeur when it ruled over much of Europe.
Three times the master of ceremonies knocked on the crypt’s doors and twice the coffin was denied entry – first when the Archduke was named as emperor and holder of dozens of other royal titles, then when his academic and political achievements and other accomplishments were listed. “We do not know him!” was the response from the Capuchin friars within. The doors only opened after he was described as “Otto – a mortal and a sinner”.
The crypt was the last stop for the crowd of mourners packing the 2.4km route from the Gothic cathedral where he was eulogised earlier in the day. Police estimated that 10,000 spectators lined the route. Austrian Army units in slow funeral march step were followed by a gurney carrying the coffin, covered with the yellow-black Habsburg flag and flanked by the Tyrollean home guardsmen. Next came close family members, then crowned heads from Europe, Austrian government leaders, clergymen in fanciful Habsburg regimental colours.
The elaborate ceremony in Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral also evoked the grandeur of the 640-year Habsburg dynasty. The Gothic church was packed. In another symbolic bow to the Habsburgs, seven bishops from nations of the former Austro-Hungarian empire – seven countries plus parts of modern-day Montenegro, Italy, Poland, Romania and Serbia and Ukraine – assisted the Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.’
Erm. Okay, this getting a little bit Dan Brown. Time to move on, methinks.
So let’s go to the Iona Institute, this time a home-grown conservative Christian organisation, and one which regularly mentions Mitchell:
‘While Christian Democrat parties across Europe had a good election, in Ireland, the results from a pro-religion, pro-family perspective were distinctly mixed. Gay Mitchell and Brian Crowley have strong pro-life and pro-family track records.
Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness and Fianna Fáil’s Liam Aylward have been generally reliable on such issues, with Ms McGuinness standing up for the right of Rocco Buttiglione to be appointed as a European Commissioner after the last Euro elections.’
‘Summary: A number of weeks ago we sent out an e-letter detailing how the European People’s Party’s draft election manifesto for next month’s European elections looked set to weaken the EPP’s commitment to the right to life and the family based on marriage. The good news is that the final version of the manifesto is greatly improved over the draft and basically reinstates those commitments. Please read on for more detail.
EPP election manifesto is now fully pro-family, pro-life and pro-religion.
The European People’s Party is the group of parties in the European Parliament that comprises mainly of Christian Democratic parties from throughout the EU. Fine Gael is a member. Ahead of next month’s elections to the European Parliament it debated its election manifesto. The draft manifesto represented a significant step backwards from a pro-life and family viewpoint compared with the 2004 manifesto.
After further debate, culminating in an EPP meeting in Warsaw at the end of April, the final version of the manifesto has been agreed and it is far better than the original draft. For example, it drops the ‘family diversity’ language contained in the draft and in a nod to Judeo-Christian values says that we must be “intolerant of intolerance of our own value system and beliefs”.
The most significant addition to the final version of the manifesto is a reference to a document called ‘A Union of Values’ agreed by the EPP at a meeting in Berlin in 2001. In its opposition to abortion, destructive research on embryos and euthanasia, it is thoroughly pro life document. In addition, it contains the statement that “families where fathers and mothers take responsibility for their children are the foundation of society.”
In fact, the Berlin statement of values is more emphatically pro-life than anything produced by any of the mainstream parties in Ireland in recent year.
We understand that Gay Mitchell MEP (email@example.com) and Lucinda Creighton (Lucinda.firstname.lastname@example.org) played a significant part in getting the draft manifesto changed for the better.’
And finally in this wee overview, a look at Gay Mitchell’s pleas in 2003 for clemency on behalf of a convicted murderer in the United States who was facing imminent execution, as reported by RTÉ:
‘Fine Gael’s Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Gay Mitchell, has written to the Governor of Florida in the US, asking him to take anti-abortionist Paul Hill off death row.
A former Presbyterian Minister, Hill was convicted of the murder of two people outside an abortion clinic in 1994.
He is due to be executed today by lethal injection. Gay Mitchell says that Hill committed a senseless crime, but that executing him only perpetuates the cycle of taking life.
For his part, Hill says that the state is making him a martyr and he is looking forward to dying for his cause.’
Paul Hill, a right-wing Christian fundamentalist, is described here:
‘Hill rose to prominence in the early 1990′s as a fire-eating abortion foe, who openly preached the righteousness of defending unborn life by force — a divisive position among anti-abortion activists that got him excommunicated from the Presbyterian church.
On July 29, 1994, in the abortion conflict’s ground-zero of Pensacola, Fla., Hill put his theology into action by gunning down Dr. John Britton and his septuagenarian escort, along with Britton’s wife (who survived the shooting).
I knew that [killing an abortion provider] would uphold the truths of the gospel at the precise point of Satan’s current attack (the abortionist’s knife). While most Christians firmly profess the duty to defend born children with force (which is not yet being disputed by the government) most of these professors have neglected the duty to similarly defend the unborn. They are steady all along the battleline except at the point where the enemy has broken through. I was certain that if I took my stand at this point, others would join with me, and the Lord would eventually bring about a great victory.’