Sabina Higgins’ right to views as a private person became a serious public issue when they appeared on the official website of Áras an Uachtaráin.
Calling for a negotiated peace, the comment gives essentially equal moral standing to Russia and Ukraine in this bloody war caused by Moscow’s illegal, immoral, and barbaric invasion of its smaller neighbor.
It seems to give moral equivalence to criminal aggressor Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
What started as a letter to a newspaper stayed on the President’s website for most of a business day before it was mysteriously taken down. Neither the placement of Ms Higgins’ comments on the website nor their removal was accompanied by any explanation from the President or his staff, and yesterday a spokesman for the President reiterated that there would be “no comment” on the matter.
However, the president’s wife’s controversial remarks about the war in Ukraine were picked up by the embattled Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yuri Filatov, who found them clearly beneficial. This Ambassador has been the subject of calls from members of all parties for his expulsion from this country over highly controversial comments about this horrible war which many believe to be untrue.
The government is obviously embarrassed by this incident. But like the president, it has maintained an official silence in the hope that this stunning slip in the political holiday quiet will simply melt away.
However, President Michael D. Higgins has faced calls for state support for the Ukrainian cause and speaking out against Russian aggression following Sabina Higgins’ letter to Russian aggression Irish times Last week about the war.
Inappropriate, unhelpful and tasteless
In her letter, she questioned an earlier editorial comment on the conflict, arguing that fighting would continue until the world “convinces President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to agree to a ceasefire and negotiations.”
Critics of that letter, including lawyer and former Fianna Fáil Government Minister Willie O’Dea, have suggested that Ms Higgins is drawing an equivalence between Ukraine’s countermeasures and Russian aggression.
Several key figures in the three-party coalition have expressed serious concern. Former Fianna Fáil Kildare South TD, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin, who heads the all-party women’s political group in Leinster House, said Ms Higgins was “deaf” to the suffering of the Ukrainian people at the hands of Russia. She said the comments could not be portrayed as those of a private individual.
“The decision to post her letter on the President’s website was very imprudent and broke all protocols,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
John McGahon, a Fine Gael Senator from Louth, also heavily criticized the letter, saying it was “inappropriate, unhelpful and distasteful”.
“She’s a private person, she has the right to express any kind of view she wants. But she is married to the President of this country, lives in Áras an Uachtaráin and officiates at state events,” Mr McGahon said Irish Independent.
“And given the high-profile nature of her position, I believe her views on the Ukrainian invasion are open to criticism. I think they are open to criticism.”
Mr McGahon said the letter clearly established a “moral equivalence” between Russia and Ukraine. “If you read this letter, you would think that this is a dispute between two countries over a disputed piece of land,” he said.
“But it’s Russian tanks that rolled into Ukraine. It’s Russian missiles that have leveled Ukrainian cities. It is Russian soldiers who have murdered women and children on the streets of Ukraine,” he added.
Senator McGahon added the comments were “a slap in the face to the 47,000 Ukrainian refugees who have come to this Irish island seeking safety and refuge.”
So President Higgins must explain this – and the sooner the better. Or perhaps Mrs. Higgins would reconsider and retract her remarks, admitting that she hadn’t quite thought them through.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/time-for-president-michael-d-higgins-to-explain-or-maybe-for-his-wife-sabina-to-withdraw-ill-judged-comments-on-ukraine-war-41881298.html Time for President Michael D. Higgins to explain — or perhaps for his wife, Sabina, to retract ill-considered comments about the war in Ukraine