Slightly lost in all the excitement about Ken’s relationship with London’s Jews, there was another group of people he offended last week. Ken had been on the front foot with Irish Londoners after Boris Johnson apologised for criticising a GLA-sponsored St Patrick’s Day event during the Ken years as a “dinner for Sinn Fein.” (Note, though, that Johnson corrects his mistakes; Livingstone embraces his.)
Alas, the Kenster seems to have thrown it away with a rather crass attempt to cash in on the visit to London earlier this month of the Irish President, Michael D.Higgins. According to the Irish Times, Ken sought a meeting with Higgins, but was refused on the grounds that it would have been inappropriate for a head of state during an election campaign.
Undaunted, Livingstone simply turned up at one of Higgins’ London speeches with a photographer and had his picture taken with the President. The snap of the pair then appeared on a special Irish-themed Ken election leaflet promising to “reinstate support for the Irish community and St Patrick’s Day events” and attacking Boris’s comments.
It turns out, alas, that not only did Ken not bother to ask anyone whether it was all right to use the photo, he didn’t even bother to stay for the speech.
Both the Aras an Uachtaráin (the president’s office) and the Irish Embassy in London sounded miffed about the stunt. “There was no contact made about using the photograph in the literature,” the Aras said.
The Embassy said: “The picture was taken at a public event. As you know, Livingstone was there for a short time only. Neither the Áras nor the Embassy was contacted in relation to the use of the picture. The President, of course, has no role or position in the mayoral election.”
PS Boris also turned up to the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Trafalgar Square last Sunday – which he funds, incidentally, contrary to Ken’s claim. Guess which mayoral candidate who promises to “support St Patrick’s Day events” didn’t?