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February 19, 2014

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Alex

For the longest time, around 2010, Boris Johnson was paying a crew of morrismen to do their thing in Trafalgar Square. Adam Bienkov and I both suspected the idea was to deny public space to potential demonstrators.

Dan Hardie

Reminds me of De Gaulle's trip to Ireland just after he resigned as President in 1969.At the time the Civil Rights marches, and consequent violent response from some loyalists and parts of the RUC, were well underway in Northern Ireland, and the last thing the Irish government wanted was anyone pouring a little more petrol on the flames. A couple of years earlier, on a state trip to Quebec, when separatist passions were already becoming aroused, De Gaulle had given a speech containing the words 'Vive le Québec libre!', after which the Canadian government had informed him that his visit was now ending, somewhat ahead of schedule.

De Gaulle spent the first few days well away from the media, protected by the Irish government. But after a few days the General announced he would be giving a public speech to which journalists would be welcome. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs promptly saw to it that the chosen venue had the very best facilities for visiting TV crews and print journalists, and on the scheduled evening De Gaulle showed up to give the speech.

The TV crews and print journos were seated at the other end of a rather long hall from De Gaulle, who got up and gave his speech. All went with clockwork efficiency, until De Gaulle reached his peroration. Then all of a sudden the microphones failed completely- which meant, sadly, that none of the journalists were able to hear the great man declaiming 'Vive l'Irlande unie!'

Goodness, said the Department of Foreign Affairs men to the journalists afterwards, we Irish are so incompetent sometimes! No, we didn't hear what the General said at the end of his speech either, and neither did any of the worthies that we invited along to listen. Sorry about that.

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