Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Royal Visit

Some sections of Irish society wish to celebrate the visit of The English Queen, Elizabeth Windsor, this week.Some may even want to wave the Union Jack. That is their right.  However,one would hope hope that this section of our people will also understand and accept that many other Irish citizens are politically opposed to this visit, and will respect their democratic right to do so peacefully.

It is premature and will cause great offence to many Irish citizens, particularly to those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British state forces in Ireland. The timing, on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is particularly insensitive. It is widely believed that this attack, involving the greatest loss of life of any incident in the conflict, was carried out with the involvement of British intelligence. To date no files on this atrocity have been released.

This visit is being presented as a signal that we are leaving the past behind us. But the British monarchy is all about the past.  It is based on a set of values, that belong more to middle-ages and which I believe most Irish people do not share. It stands for hierarchy, sectarianism, deference and inequality. Elizabeth Windsor claims to be monarch of part of our country. However, the values she represents have no place in Ireland.

The British monarchy is intrinsically linked with the British military. Most of the royal family command British regiments, and the queen herself has been commander in chief of the British armed forces for over sixty years. These forces have been responsible for the murder of Irish citizens, north and south.(Incredibly, the commander of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, Col. Derek Wilford, was later decorated by the queen!)
 The British establishment continue with a policy of cover up in relation to many deaths during the recent conflict.

We are living in changed and changing times and thankfully many are  working towards the normalisation of relationships between the people of these two islands based upon mutual respect and equality.  But it is incorrect to suggest any such relationship currently exists and therefore it is premature (and unwise in a time of recession) to invite the English queen to this part of Ireland to be feted and celebrated, at massive cost and inconvenience to members of the public.
 It is particularly bizarre to witness the sycophantic, cap-doffing attitude among some sections of Irish society towards English royalty. (Amusingly, some were even disappointed that their names didn't make the invitation list for state functions!)
Who could ever forget the,infamous words of the last Fine Gael Taoiseach on the occasion of the visit of England's Prince Charles (and colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment) to Dublin in 1995. Many in this nation, who class themselves as "citizens" rather than subjects, must surely have cringed when Mr. Bruton stated that Charles Windsor "represented so much of what we aspire to as a people". Let's hope  we will not witness a repeat of such cap-doffing nonsense this week.

Let me conclude with a quote from James Connolly, whose anniversary occurred just last week. He stated, "a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom."

 -Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin

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