Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

Former minister for transport Shane Ross has defended the right of Sabina Higgins to express her opinion and said that demands for the President to defend his wife’s position were “ridiculous”.

While he did not agree with Ms Higgins’ comments on the war in Ukraine in a letter to The Irish Times, she was entitled to her opinions and should not have to be defended by the President, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Mr Ross added that he did not agree with the content of the letter. It was necessary to state “absolutely, categorically” that Ireland was on the side of Ukraine, he said.

But the right of Sabina Higgins to express her opinion was a different matter. Ms Higgins had “a very, very fine record” as an anti-war activist, he said.

“The idea that the President should now come in and defend his wife’s position is to me somewhat ridiculous. She’s entitled to, and does, express her opinion on these views – and if they happen to differ from his, and I don’t know whether they do or not, I don’t think every time they do differ he’s going to come in and say ‘I do differ on this, that and the other’.”

However, Mr Ross added that the letter should not have appeared on the President’s official website. That had been a mistake. It had been withdrawn which had to be acknowledged, but it should never have been put there in the first place.

“But her right to say this is very important. We’re confusing two issues here – one is it shouldn’t have gone on the website, that was wrong. But the second is to say that he’s responsible for – the implication here – for what she says, and that she’s some sort of robot the moment he becomes elected for the Presidency is wrong as well.”

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