Dear Albert Reynolds: Come on now, Taoiseach, don't be an oul' begrudger, and nominate our own 'Suds' Sutherland as the next President of the European Commission

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Indy Lifestyle Online
You have heaped praise on an Englishman for taking the Irish football squad to considerable heights of glory in the World Cup, but you will not nominate the most qualified Irishman around to become President of the European Commission. Is it not time to pull on the green jersey for one of our own?

After all, if Jack Charlton can be the first Englishman to become a Freeman of Dublin City for cobbling together a world-class team from the Irish diaspora, why can't you give an Irishman a break in Brussels? Now that John Major has vetoed that big Belgian fellow, and the Eurocrats are all rushing around trying to find an alternative, a former EU Commissioner and the present head of the Gatt world trade talks would be a great man for the job. His name is on several people's lips, so why not yours?

Yes I know that Peter Sutherland, or 'Suds' as he is called by the obnoxious 'Dublin 4' crowd (the equivalent of the Hampstead set), is one of those jumped-up Irish patricians who think they are something special because they are on first-name terms with world leaders.

I also hate his hyper-efficiency and the way he arranges meetings at eight in the morning. (The smoke from his fat Cuban cigars would turn anybody's stomach at that hour, especially if they've had a few jars the night before.)

I suppose it's the Jesuit education and the fact that he captained the University College Dublin rugby team that gave him the unquestioning belief in his own abilities.

And the difference between a snooty Dub who got all the breaks and a man from the boggy midlands of Longford like yourself is that you got yours by hard graft.

From a railway clerk to running 16 ballrooms in the Fifties wasn't bad going. The fact that you could croon as well as Jim Reeves didn't hurt either. But I do think that getting up on stage in a stetson and a pair of cowboy boots was a bit over the top for a prime minister.

Back to Suds, though. I will admit that he doesn't have the politician's toughness and that he failed in his one and only attempt to get elected for your opponents Fine Gael in 1973. And it would really stick in the craw to do a favour for one of that crowd, especially when there are dangerous men in your own party, Fianna Fail, that you need to keep happy. You have only the highest regard for the present Irish Commissioner, Padraig Flynn, and with the Irish only allowed one slot in Brussels, you want Flynn out of Dublin as long as possible.

You recently said that Jackie Charlton did more to improve Anglo-Irish relations than any politician to date. That was generous, but does it not occur to you that Suds could do something for Ireland's national interest?

He is one of the few people around who can handle the prickly Brits, and if he stopped them drifting away from the European fold it would be in Ireland's interest. After all, we are each other's largest trading partners.

The Irish people at home and abroad (like myself) want the best for the country. And if Jack can deliver, surely Suds can too.

Yours, Leonard Doyle

(Photograph omitted)

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