Margaretta Ruth D’Arcy, writer, actress, Republican activist and member of the Aosdána (the elitist and abnormally secretive arts grouping), is causing all sorts of angst for right-wing sections of the Irish media (which is pretty much four-fifths of it). She has been ordered to prison by a local circuit court judge after refusing to sign a bond obliging her not to commit trespass following her arrest during protests over the use by the United States military of Shannon Airport as a stopover point for US troops (not to mention a transit port for rendition: the extra-judicial kidnapping, detention and torture of suspected terrorists or militants, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence). D’Arcy, who is nearly eighty years of age and suffering from cancer and Parkinsons, is currently sitting in Limerick Prison, a modernised Victorian-era jail condemned by an official report in 2012 as dirty, unhygienic and severely overcrowded. A rapid cause célèbre she was recently visited by Sabina Higgins, the wife of Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins, much to the collective fury of some columnists and newspaper editors. Indeed their anger has reached almost Biblical proportions, as illustrated by Eamon Delaney writing in the Irish Independent:
“Recently, President Higgins refused to reveal whether he is a Christian believer or in fact an atheist, or agnostic. Michael D’s beliefs are his own business while he remains a private citizen.
But he is no longer a private citizen and, on taking office, the President also took an oath of allegiance to God. This private/public distinction is equally problematic with the latest episode for our activist President.”
Really? Upon assuming the office of President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins took an oath of allegiance to “God”? What is Delaney fearing? Divine retribution should that fantasy oath be broken? Famine and pestilence, fires and plague? Maybe up on Talbot Street they are already preparing to sacrifice their virgin daughters?
Margaretta D’Arcy is a seventy-nine year old woman, gravely ill, and is one of Ireland’s most respected living writers and playwrights. She has done much good for this nation and very little harm. The real debate is not about her jailing or her refusal to bow to injustice, here or overseas. The real debate is about our government’s flagrant disregard of our official policy of military neutrality, a policy endorsed by the Irish people since the 1930s and for which there remains general popular support, despite the whinging of lunatic NATO-fetishists in the national news media. That a senior citizen, a pensioner, finds it necessary to protect what her own state will not say’s much for the debased nature of the political classes who would rule over us.