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The only Flag Draped Coffin Allowed on American TV

 
'another teetotal warmongering president is coming to pose with a pint of Guinness' sez Wag When I heard that Ronald Reagan was dead, my first reaction was to burst into song �a Christy Moore song that was on many a lip twenty years ago. For it was exactly twenty years ago �the first Saturday of June 1984- that the then president arrived in town to accept an honorary doctorate (in laws, of all things) from University College Galway (UCG). It was an election year, and an opportune moment to pose for Irish-American voters with a parchment in one hand and pint of Guinness in the other. "Hey Ronnie Reagan, I�m black and I�m pagan, I�m gay, and I�m left, and I�m free I�m an unfundamentalist environmentalist, Don�t bother me." 'In the few days before Reagan arrived, sleepy old Galway was transformed: the town was invaded by secret servicemen with cropped hair and dark suits, who spoke into hidden microphones on their cuffs; the black Mercedes population trebled; and the unusual helicopter activity was menacingly suggestive of �Apocolypse Now�. Those of us who had friends in the vicinity of the University were unable to visit them for a few days.' Follow the link below for more of the History lesson: Hey Ronnie Reagan, I�m black and I�m pagan, I�m gay, and I�m left, and I�m free I�m an unfundamentalist environmentalist, Don�t bother me. When told that Ronald Reagan was dead, my first reaction was to burst into song �a Christy Moore song that was on many a lip twenty years ago. For it was exactly twenty years ago �the first Saturday of June 1984- that the then president arrived in town to accept an honorary doctorate (in laws, of all things) from University College Galway (UCG). It was an election year, and an opportune moment to pose for Irish-American voters with a parchment in one hand and pint of Guinness in the other. We�d been planning our reception. For the previous eight weeks, dozens of us had gathered each Tuesday night in the Atlanta Hotel, separating into sub-committees in the several corners of the bar, and redividing into pint-drinking social groups afterwards. Nuns, republicans, Labourites, trades unionists, ex-aid workers, human rights activists, academics, young trotskyists (I was one of them), all had their different strategies and objectives, but it was a period of comradeship and excitement. During the build-up, one memorable stunt grabbed national headlines. A group of academics at UCG organised a �de-conferring ceremony� at which holders of UCG doctorates publicly burned them in protest. Among those who participated was the heroic veteran socialist republican and writer, Peadar O�Donnell, who had been awarded an honorary doctorate by UCG a short time before. In the few days before Reagan arrived, sleepy old Galway was transformed: the town was invaded by secret servicemen with cropped hair and dark suits, who spoke into hidden microphones on their cuffs; the black Mercedes population trebled; and the unusual helicopter activity was menacingly suggestive of �Apocolypse Now�. Those of us who had friends in the vicinity of the University were unable to visit them for a few days. It was a fine Saturday as several thousand marched from Fr Burke park towards the Cathedral car park �a space very near the University made available by the then bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey, who was boycotting the Reagan ceremonies himself. Suddenly, as the front of the demonstration passed the Atlanta Hotel, the heavens opened and we found ourselves in the middle of the heaviest rain our lives. We believed that the CIA was responsible for peppering the clouds from a helicopter with some substance or other �either to cause the more timid of the protesters to run for shelter, or to ensure that there would be no rain during Ronnie�s parade. Twenty years later, it�s re-election time again, and another teetotal warmongering president is coming to pose with a pint of Guinness for the Irish-American constituency. The Atlanta Hotel no longer exists, but a new generation of unfundementalist environmentalists is coming into contact with veterans of the Reagan protests in other corners of other bars. At the very least, we should spoil his photo-opportunity. Christy Moore is singing out against Bush as he sang out against Reagan twenty years ago �he is headlining the Irish Anti War Movement�s �When Bush Comes to Shove� gig in Dublin on 19 June. And John Maguire, writer of �Hey Ronnie Reagan� is currently a spokesperson for Anti War Ireland. http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/jun2004/reagan.184.1.jpg

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