(Article from "Sligo Weekender" August 15th 2006)
Over two-thirds of people questioned in Ballymote say the absence of the New York mayor should not have meant postponing the unveiling of their national monument.
The Sligo Weekender asked the question as part of a survey conducted in the town last week.
The results showed that opinion on whether Mayor Michael Bloomberg should have been invited at all was more divided.
The New York mayor was due to travel to Ballymote on Friday, July 28 to unveil a national monument to Brigadier General Michael Corcoran, a Ballymote man who became a US Civil War hero.
The ceremony was postponed when the mayor cancelled his travel plans because of an electricity crises in New York.
Mr Bloomberg is now due to unveil the monument next Tuesday, August 22.
However, Labour party councillor Declan Bree and party activist Tim Mulcahy, say that somebody other than Mr Bloomberg should be invited to perform the ceremony. They believe he is unsuitable because of his position on Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.
Mr Mulcahy has claimed that local feeling in Ballymote is against the visit.
We decided to test local opinion on this issue and on suggestions that the unveiling should not have been postponed after the mayor cancelled his trip.
We spoke to 22 people on the streets of Ballymote last Friday.
Of those polled, 68 per cent (15 out of 22) said that the ceremony should have gone ahead without Mr Bloomberg.
Many people had travelled to Ballymote for the occasion, some came all the way from the USA. But the visitors were left disappointed when they learnt that the ceremony would not go ahead until Mayor Bloomberg could reschedule his visit.
On the separate question of Mr Bloomberg’s stance on Israel, 45.5 per cent of those asked thought that he should not have been invited at all because of his strong support for Israel in the current crisis in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, 36.5 per cent agreed that the mayor should be invited to unveil the monument. The remaining 18 per cent had no opinion on the matter.
Ballymote-based TD John Perry, who has been heavily involved in arranging the visit, completely dismissed the results. He said: "In light of the fact that only 22 people were polled, I would discount this opinion entirely.
“The Israeli question is nothing whatsoever to do with the people in Ballymote, and this visit has the full recognition of the offices of the State".
When asked about the disappointed people who had travelled to Ballymote for the unveiling ceremony, Mr Perry said: "The majority of the people that came from the US were members of the Sligo Association of New York, and did so at no personal expense".
Deputy Perry then pointed out that the comments of Tim Mulcahy, who is an employee of Iarnrod Eireann, did not represent the company, as Dr John Lynch, an Iarnrod Eireann director, would be attending the ceremony. Deputy Perry said: "As he is a State employee, he should put the opinion of his employers first".
Deputy Perry (whom, I must disclose, was my first employer, at the age of 14) has a point about the 22 people polled but, out of a town whose entire population is 2,000, this can hardly be called an unusually low sample. His final comment there about Tim Mulcany, the local Iarnrod Eireann station master and former Labour Party member, being obliged to 'put the opinion of his employers first' does Deppity Perry no credit though. It smacks a bit of the prevalent political thinking in many of the 'strong states' of 1930's Europe. I don't think John Perry is a reactionary in any way - he is much too gormless to be one, and I say that having known him personally, but Tim Mulcahy is right in saying that Deputy Perry has no concept of what is going on in the Middle East. And, it would appear, neither has he any concept of how ordinary people in Sligo feel about the slaughter of ordinary people in Lebanon and Iraq.
For those that cannot get enough of this entralling affair, here is a news report on the original fiasco, detailed a few weeks ago on this blog, from the Irish Examiner (an Irish-American organ and not the parish newsletter of 'Ireland's other city'), in which Seanachie Senior makes a surprise appearance, like Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.