by Frank Schnittger
Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:30:28 AM EST
Given that I have taken to campaigning for a Mary Robinson Presidency I though it only prudent to make an enquiry as to whether she would be interested in the post. So I sent an email to her Realising Rights Initiative as follows, and got an interesting response:
From: Frank Schnittger
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 6:56 PM
Subject: Mary Robinson
I have written a blog proposing Mary Robinson for the new post of President of the European Council at http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2009/10/20/11029/450. There is also a Facebook group supporting her for the post which has reached 6000 members in just a few days. We have also organised a Stop Blair petition opposing his appointment which has reached 38,000 signatories in recent days.
It would be really helpful to the campaign if we knew whether she was interested in the post or not. Obviously there is no point in proposing her if she would simply turn it down if the opportunity was offered. On the other hand, even a relatively non-committal statement saying that she would be interested in discussing the post with the relevant heads of Government, would offer real encouragement to what is rapidly becoming a popular pan-European campaign to draft her for the job.
As I don't have an e-mail address for her, I was hoping you might forward this e-mail to her with the request that she respond whenever she can find the time!
PS My late wife, Muriel Boothman, and I met her when she was President of Ireland and opened Muriel's Community Education Centre in Blessington.
To which I got the following reply:
Front-paged by afew
Dear Frank Schnittger,
On behalf of Mary Robinson thank for your interest in supporting her for the new post of president of the European Council. She is travelling at the moment but below is her response to Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission on the issue.
"I very much appreciate the support you have offered to the campaign being mounted to have me nominated as President of the EU.
It is humbling and gratifying to be mentioned as a possibility for such a position - particularly when it appears that the campaign is being led by civil society and those interested in issues we both wish to address and progress.
As you know during recent times I have become increasingly focussed on climate change and its negative impacts on the developing world - i.e. on the issue of climate justice. It is a topic of extreme urgency and is proving very time-consuming and demanding.
With this focus I could not commit myself to considering accepting the challenge of the EU Presidency. I share your aspiration that a woman candidate will become apparent, and indeed successful, for one (or more!) of the senior posts in the EU but that person will not be me. I would be grateful if you could help me get this message across very clearly to those who have supported the idea of my being a candidate for the EU Presidency."
I hope this is helpful.
Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative
271 Madison Avenue, Suite 1007
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 895-8082 Fax: (212) 895-8084
So that's it then, isn't it? A clear NO. Or is it?
One could read it as a shy and bashful person who does not wish to be overly forward in pushing herself into the limelight and appear at a party to which none of the hosts have invited her. To my knowledge not a single Head of Government has proposed her for the post, and unless and until this happens she cannot possibly be a declared candidate.
She might also want to let it be known that although she doesn't currently hold a high profile political post, she isn't exactly stuck for work and has other priorities she would like to address.
However logic would suggest that if she really is concerned with the impact of global warming on the developing world, there are very few more potentially influential posts in the world from which she could address this issue than if she were President of the European Council.
Mary has always been an "issues person" with the issues far more important than the personalities who may be engaged in it, and if she could be persuaded she could do far more to address the negative impacts of Global warming as President of the European Council, then that objection would collapse.
All she has said is that she "could not commit myself to considering accepting the challenge of the EU Presidency" in the context of the "extreme urgency" and "very time-consuming and demanding" work she is doing on the Climate Change issue: hardly a disqualification from the post, and if anything, merely serving notice that, if elected, climate change would be an issue very high up on her agenda.
I hardly think that most European Heads of Government would have a problem with that in the run up to Copenhagen. Equally, however, it would be extremely presumptuous of her to publicly declare an interest in the post when not a single Government has nominated her. That would only be to set herself up for a public humiliation.
I have absolutely no idea whether, privately, she really wants the job. She would want to want it pretty badly to do a really good job. But as yet she has given no indication as to her private wishes. Indeed she has emphasized her determination to remain active in public life.
So for my part, I am simply not taking that no for an answer at this stage. Her reply to Margot Wallstrom is merely the action of a tactful and mannerly person not wanting to crash a party to which she has not been invited. For her the issues will always trump the positions. The very fact that she has emphasised her commitment to an issue so high up on the EU agenda at the present time underlines the fact that she has in no way retired from public life.
Some may accuse me of wishful thinking on this. But unless I get an absolute no the campaign goes on as far as I am concerned. Not being able to commit herself to the post at the present time simply does not equal no in my book. She hasn't yet been asked by the people who really matter in this instance - the Heads of Government of the Member States of the EU.
That's where we come in - to make them ask the question...