Posts Tagged ‘Independent’

During the weeks of transition between the Clinton State Department and the Kerry State Department, many got a mild chuckle from a child’s question as to whether a man can be secretary of state. No one knows for certain whether that question was ever asked in real life.

Not long after leaving her post as President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, who was succeeded in 1997 by Mary McAleese, appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show and recounted a similar story as the post of president had been filled by a woman from 1990 when she succeeded Patrick Hillery until Michael Higgins succeeded McAleese in 2011. Can a man be president of Ireland? Well, it appears the answer is yes with the election of Higgins, but the more burning question among Irish women does not concern the presidency.

It is difficult for Americans to wrap our heads around the intricacies and hierarchies of parliamentary democracy. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited parliamentary republics,  we would see on her schedule a meeting with the president and another meeting with the prime minister with corresponding photos and statements at the end of the day.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Ireland's President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin, Ireland as part of her five day tour of Europe Sunday Oct. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Niall Carson/PA Wire)

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Ireland’s President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin, Ireland as part of her five day tour of Europe Sunday Oct. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Niall Carson/PA Wire)

The concept of prime minister v. president  escapes us.   To add to the mystery, Ireland does not actually have a prime minister, strictly speaking.  That position goes by the title Taoiseach Wikipedia explains the etymology thus.


The words Taoiseach and Tánaiste (the title of the deputy prime minister) are both from the Irish language and of ancient origin. Though the Taoiseach is described in the Constitution of Ireland as “the head of the Government or Prime Minister”,[nb 3] its literal translation is chieftain or leader.[9] Tánaiste in turn refers to the system of tanistry, the Gaelic system of succession whereby a leader would appoint an heir apparent while still living.

In Scottish Gaelic, tòiseach translates as clan chief and both words originally had similar meaning in the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland. The related Welsh language word tywysog (current meaning: prince) has a similar origin and meaning.[2] Both derive ultimately from the proto-Celtic *towissākos “chieftain, leader”.

In short, the head of government is the “chief,”   the head of state is the president,  and the Irish Republic has not seen fit to assign a Gaelic title to the latter position which serves a purpose similar to that of a monarch in a parliamentary monarchy like the United Kingdom where the Queen is regarded, largely, as a figurehead.  Linguistic matters aside, while we, stateside,  have been impressed since the early 90s that the Irish have had two women presidents, the position itself is not a very powerful one leading Gabrielle Monaghan of the Independent to ask if Ireland will soon (or ever) have a woman Taoiseach.

Joan, Lucinda, Averil – could we ever have our own Iron Lady?

Gabrielle Monaghan

Two weeks after the last general election, readers of the New York Times were told Ireland had sworn in its first female Taoiseach. It was a false alarm, of course: the paper thought Enda Kenny was a woman.

But as the UK prepares for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, its first female prime minister, some question whether Ireland could ever have an Iron Lady of its own.

Female leaders are hardly a novelty in global politics; Germany, Australia, Iceland, Denmark, Argentina and Thailand all have a female prime minister. In the US, there is mounting speculation that Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.

After our next general election, also due in 2016, the odds of a woman being elected Taoiseach are 20-1, bookmakers Paddy Power calculated this week. But their odds lower dramatically for subsequent elections.

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Aside from the fact that this is Ireland,  and for any forecast of anything happening in the world, one turns to the Irish bookies (they were very busy weeks ago during the conclave of the College of Cardinals),  Monaghan  finds the probability somewhat bleak despite legislation that requires  representation within the parties.

The Government legislated last year to halve funding to political parties if they fail to make sure that at least 30pc of their election candidates are women, a measure that will take effect in time for the next general election.

At present, women account for just 15pc of Dáil seats, the same proportion as North Korea and behind Rwanda. At this rate, the National Women’s Council had estimated, it would take 370 years before half the Dáil was female.

Earlier this month,  at the Women in the World 2013 Summit, Hillary Clinton, our own leading prospect for woman chief, said for the Nth time that the full participation of women in the economy and society is the unfinished business of the 21st century.  She has been broadcasting this message around the globe for more than four years in addition to citing concrete examples of where women have been allowed (or have apprehended)  egress and how that has aided societies.

While many of us have looked to Ireland as an example of a country where women have achieved the top rank, it is not, in fact, the case in the eyes of Irish women who still await their “Thatcher moment.”   So while so many in this country eagerly await a decision from Hillary Clinton on 2016,  Irish eyes are fixed on 2016 in hopes of a female chieftain rising through the ranks and seizing the real power of government there.

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After all the hoopla about a whole month in East Hampton (not!), it appears that Mme. Secretary might be lucky to catch just one week at her summer rental.   Reports, unconfirmed by the State Department, are coming out of New Zealand that activities in the Cook Islands indicate that she  is expected in the islands for the 16-nation Pacific Forum to be held there starting on August 27.

Apparently the islands lack wide roads, and therefore also SUVs as large as the ones commonly used in her motorcades.  Neither can the airstrip accommodate her 757.  It seems they are seeking to borrow larger SUVs,  and U.S  Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, are headed for the islands to assist with transportation.

The one bright spot in the possible curtailment of her tiny break is that one account has a certain handsome ex-president Birthday Boy accompanying her.  That would be a refreshing change of pace!


This article from Stuff.co.nz provides the most detail.

Rarotonga almost too small for Hillary Clinton


Tiny Rarotonga is set to host great power politics and diplomatic posturing this week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reputedly accompanied by her husband Bill, arriving on the island to challenge growing Chinese influence in the South Pacific.


US diplomats and security advisers have been on Rarotonga and Aitutaki to the north checking venues.


The off-limits-to-all-but leaders’ retreat will be on Aitutaki with military aircraft from Australia and New Zealand used to fly them north.


Diplomatic sources say the US Navy has moved several large ships, including an aircraft carrier, toward the Cook Islands to help logistics, including transport between the two islands.


Prime Minister John Key is scheduled to attend the forum but unless he stays for the post-forum dialogue session, he will not meet the Clintons.

The US State Department has yet to confirm Clinton’s trip, and it may yet be derailed by Middle Eastern events, but locals on Rarotonga report extensive security preparations are underway.

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The comment about John Key could mean that they are not expected to attend the entire forum, and perhaps will arrive after a few weeks at their summer rental,  but again, none of this is confirmed by DOS.

Here are a few other articles trumpeting her expected arrival.  This one is from Australia’s Independent.

Welcome to the Cook Islands, Hillary – now, can anyone lend us a motorcade?

Kathy Marks

Saturday 18 August 2012

Life usually dawdles in the Cook Islands, a cluster of coral atolls sprinkled across the South Pacific. But with Hillary Clinton due to visit later this month, the place is in a spin.

For one thing, the government doesn’t have enough cars for an official motorcade.


A team from the US embassy in Wellington was in the islands this week, scouting the facilities. Jaewynn McKay, a local official coordinating preparations for the forum, said the biggest challenge was finding a suitable place for Mrs Clinton to stay with her large entourage.

“I understand she usually travels with 90 [people], but they’ve had to lessen their footprint on this occasion,” Mrs McKay told Associated Press. “We had to tell them we just don’t have the space.”

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This one is from nzherald.co.nz. in New Zealand.

Cook Islands prepare for Hillary Clinton visit

By Nick Perry

US Secretary of State HIllary Rodham Clinton will be attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga at the end of the month. Photo / AP

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga at the end of the month. Photo / AP

The tiny Cook Islands are proving almost too small for Hillary Clinton.

The South Pacific island chain, home to just 10,000 people, is buzzing as it prepares for the expected visit of the US secretary of state, the biggest dignitary to stop by since Queen Elizabeth II nearly four decades ago. Hosting such a high-profile guest and her entourage, however, is posing problems for a government that owns just three small SUVs and is scrambling to borrow cars from residents to create a proper motorcade.


The US Embassy in Wellington on Friday declined to confirm whether Clinton would be part of its delegation, but Cook Island officials are preparing as if she is coming.

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If she is attending, it would be a nice birthday present for her hubby to be able to accompany her.  They have been apart for many weeks recently – actually for a month.  We all love to see them together!



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