Echoes of the past from the Archives
Back in 1948, the Irish government of the day had decided to remove the large statue of Queen Victoria and her supporting figures from the front of Leinster House. The Queen and her supporters were shipped off to storage, first in Kilmainham and then to Daingean.
From time to time, enquiries were made about the statues. In December 1984, the director of the Beamish Open Air Museum in Co. Durham asked if it might acquire Queen Victoria.
However, on a visit to Dublin he realised that Her Majesty was very large indeed. He had hoped for a royal statue of more life-size dimensions, rather than the imperial model from Leinster House.
The hope of the OPW to be rid of the Queen was dashed. However, in 1986, the Queen was transported to Botany Bay, so to speak, and the memorial was rededicated outside the Queen Victoria Building in the city of Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, on December 20, 1987.
Though the statue was one of the most considerable works of a major Irish artist, John Hughes, few tears were shed in Dublin at Victoria’s departure.
Soviet religious conference
The Cold War made for strange bedfellows: none stranger than a conference of religious leaders held in Moscow under the auspices of the Soviet government in early May 1981.
It was entitled ‘World Conference of Religious Workers for Saving the Sacred Gift of Life from Nuclear Catastrophe’.
The “religious worker” who represented Ireland was, so our Ambassador in Moscow claimed, unknown to the embassy. He was, in fact, Dr Bill McSweeney, then lecturer in Peace Studies at the School of Ecumenics, a man prominent in academic circles. The ambassador’s comments on other attendees was equally dismissive.
But what resulted from the discussions were in fact resolutions couched in that peculiar language of Russian foreign policy in which the conference itself had been described.
Today, though conflicts have changed, the same political abuse of language continues