Irish-English detente on both sides of the water


May 09, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Longtime foes in Northern Ireland promised a new beginning yesterday, the very day that - no less remarkably - Martin O'Malley was to dine with Queen Elizabeth II.

On both sides of the Atlantic, seems everybody was leaving The Troubles behind.

If Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party can make nice, why shouldn't the governor of Maryland (and about 120 others invited to the British ambassador's residence) break bread with Her Britannic Majesty?

Let bygones be bygones, including that little dust-up with the British Embassy in 1993, when then-City Councilman O'Malley compared Her Majesty's troops to the Klan.

O'Malley and other Irish-American council members were upset because a British military band was scheduled to perform at the Baltimore Arena. Contending that the performers were from units involved in human rights violations in Northern Ireland, they urged the city to cancel its contract for the "Royal Regiments on Parade."

"Mr. O'Malley and Councilman Timothy D. Murphy, appearing before the Board of Estimates, likened the performance to an appearance by the color guard of the Ku Klux Klan, which they said would be widely condemned," The Sun reported at the time.

"It is appalling and galling to a great number of Irish in this city that we would stand by and let [these troops] come into our arena," O'Malley was quoted saying. "This is not censorship. This is drawing the line on acceptable, city-sponsored entertainment."

The embassy was not amused. "People who are responsible for human rights violations in Northern Ireland are the people who go around blowing people up," a spokesman shot back.

And then there's the music. Who knows what the royal ear would make of the O'Malley's March sound, but its lyrics surely would not please. Consider "Irish Ways and Laws": "Cromwell and his soldiers came / Started centuries of pain / ... Again, again the soldiers came / Burned our homes, stole our grain / Shot the farmers in their fields. ...

Asked about the Royal Regiments flap yesterday, the Brits were so over it.

"I believe that the vast bulk of people of an Irish-American background will appreciate the role that the prime ministers of the [United Kingdom] and [Ireland] have contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland," PJ Johnston, press secretary for the British Embassy in Washington, said in an e-mail. "Given the truly historic events in Northern Ireland today ... I am sure that all people of good will will have nothing but high hopes and best wishes for all communities in [Northern] Ireland and the people of the two countries that share those islands."

It's in Vegas, but it's all ethical, see?

Some law firms that do a lot of development work are throwing a cocktail party May 20 for Governor O'Malley, Mayor Sheila Dixon, and County Executives Jim Smith, Ken Ulman and David Craig. And you know it's on the up and up, because it's in Las Vegas.

The leaders will be in town for the International Council of Shopping Centers convention.

Lest the Sin City location give the wrong impression, the hosts - Gildea & Schmidt; Bodie, Nagle, Dolina, Smith & Hobbs; Lawyer's Choice Title; and GGP Associates - added this line to the bottom of the invitation: "This event complies with Maryland State Public Ethics law."

See how they run

At a news conference the other day about an eviction bill, Michael Sarbanes stood at a podium flanked by City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Councilman Ken Harris.

Why this is passably interesting: They're all after the same job. Harris is running against Rawlings-Blake. And if the rumor mill is right, so is Sarbanes.

Sarbanes, executive director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, claims to be undecided, telling The Sun's Sumathi Reddy that he is "seriously" considering a run and will reach a decision sometime this month.

He has had a state campaign account open since March.

Connect the dots

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