New York, September 11, 2001 – Oslo, October 9, 2009 – New York, September 11, 2011

We wish to express deep and enduring sympathy with all those affected by the terrible events of Tuesday 11 September 2001, especially the families and friends of the victims.

W also wish to express our unreserved admiration for the members of the New York fire and police departments and other emergency services who lost their lives with such amazing courage and unimaginable selflessness. Who can forget how they climbed up the stairs of the doomed Twin Towers past the office staff as they made their way down to safety.

The unpretentious heroism of that day in New York was, was and will continue to be of another order where debate falls silent, where only praise is heard and where the only feelings are those of wonder and compassion.

In their death, they were not divided.
They were swifter than eagles.
They were stronger than lions.

(2 Samuel 1:23).

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n‑anamacha dílse.

Heddwch i’w llwch.

May they rest in peace.

Requiescant in Pace.

Fallen FDNY honoured in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

The poignant and impressive Memorial Mass on Saturday 10th September 2011.

However, one can and must be critical of certain aspects of United States policy in today's divided world.

The launch of the war against Iraq in the face of worldwide opposition marked the opening of a new and sadder phase in the history of the relations between the USA and the rest of us.

Many people recall the years when the USA was the welcome and admired leader of the free world but feel deeply disappointed, even alarmed, as an erstwhile role model turns into a selfish one man band.

The USA no longer seems to consider itself to be necessarily bound by any international laws, treaties, usages or customs and sees itself as being solely concerned with looking after its own interests while leaving the rest of us to flounder in a leaderless world.

This attitude was clearly expressed by President Bush during his speech in New York on September 11, 2004 when he made it abundantly clear that his only concern in relation to international terrorism was that it posed a threat to America itself. He gave no indication whatsoever of being in any way concerned about other potential targets.

It all amounts to a tragic failure of vision in the case of the most powerful and influential country in the history of the world.

“With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart...” (Jeremias:12.11)

Now, in 2009, with President Obama in charge, there are good grounds for hope that the United States will return to its true self, to its spirit of freedom and to a vision that does not end a few miles east of the Statue of Liberty (George, it was a gift from France to the United States).

The world, as the Irish playwright Sean O’Casey wrote many years ago, is in ‘a state of chassis’. Never has humanity been confronted with so many challenges. There is no other nation on earth that has either the power or the potential to lead all humanity to a new and better world.

The recent (9 October 2009) award of the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 to their President is a remarkable and touching compliment, not just to a man of ideals and of vision, but to the great people who elected him.

We all need to hope. Right now our hopes and our hearts are in Washington D.C.

Today it is Monday 12 September 2011 and we have to face the fact that President Obama has not turned out to be the great peacemaker we had hoped for. However, he was and continues to be our best hope for some positive changes to United States policies both at home and abroad.

We now realise just how high a price we have all paid for the rash rush to judgement and to war that marked the response of George W. Bush to the tragedy of 9/11.

Today the US and Europe face bankruptcy and foreign wars have become all but unaffordable. At the time of 9/11 the USA had a budget surplus. Now, however, the enormous cost of the Bush / Blair ‘folie de grandeur’ (sorry, George, but the French do have the words for it) have put us all in pawn to the irresponsible banking industry worldwide.

Tony Blair (who deserves unstinted praise for the Good Friday Agreement between Belfast, Dublin and London in 1998 –, less than a year after he became Prime Minister) has publicly stated that he does not regret his support for the Bush ‘folie’ and that he would do it the same again. He has become a very sad example of the ̵don’t know and can’t be told’ syndrome.

President Mary MacAleese in New York

Beslan School, September 3, 2004.

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