David Andrews was the Foreign Minister of Ireland at the time the Good Friday Agreement was signed. This is a towering achievement for him, and for all others. Its a tragedy that he has sullied, as I believe he has, this by an attempt to sell a signed copy of the final draft of the agreement. The has now it seems seen sense and withdrawn the document from sale. However, one wonders why he thinks its his to sell? The agreement, signed by the Gerry Adams, Bertie Aherne, John Hume etc, was given to those only who were present. Now I am not a lawyer, but it seems plain as a pikestaff to me that when a foreign minister signs a document and is given a copy of same signed by all that document IS NOT HIS TO SELL. Its not even his, its ours, the citizens of the country whom he represents. I would like to think that had I been in his place I would have proudly donated it to some archive or other. This would be the classy thing to do. Whats not classy is to flog it for a few grand. We might well ask what de Bert did with his copy….It would be useful if the other signatories were to confirm what they have done with their copies. We might also ask further what other documents other ministers have taken into their possession ex officio, and whether they have retained them or sold them? The blurring of the boundaries of state and private here are frankly breathtaking.
This isnt the first time we have seen this tawdry sale of what seem to me anyhow to be state assets. Take Michael Collins, or General Collins as he was at the time of his death. In recent years we have seen put up for sale his personal sidearm (property in my view of the Army whose commander he was and on whose authorisation and behalf he was carrying same) taken (by whom? on whose authority?) from his vehicle, and his cap badge, again taken from the site of his death. Lets not even go into the sale of his hair clipped from his corpse. Medieval relics aint in it.
Whatever happened to class? Imagine the furore in the USA if someone tried to sell the bloodstained clothes of JFK? or in the UK if General Jeremy Moore tried to sell the signed copy of the Argentine surrender of the falklands? We may have lost our sovereignty but do we have to lose our class?