Some responses to British royal visit: Irish National Congress, Gerry Adams, Irish Central, Politico.ie


The Irish National Congress writes in British Royal Visit (PDF file):

Outside of Ireland, this visit will be interpreted as signifying the end of all out-standing areas of disagreement between the Irish and UK governments in relation to the national question in Ireland: and that Irish-UK relations are now fully normalised. This complacent establishment consensus will have to be challenged, because there are still serious outstanding issues that the British state has, so far, failed to address.
Leaving aside the issue of the unresolved national question, the reason we are opposing the visit is because of the way the British state has hindered and obstructed investigations into the activities of sections of the British state security services during the period of the armed conflict. In November 2006, a report issued by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, spoke of … ”acts of international terrorism that were colluded in by the British security forces”. The report went on to highlight instances of British obstruction in investigating crimes such as the Dublin and Monaghan car-bomb massacres of 1974 for which British-controlled agents were believed re-sponsible. We find it utterly bizarre and unacceptable that the Irish state would proceed with the royal state visit, given that these issues have still not been adequately dealt with.
Queen Elizabeth is not only Head of State in Britain, she is also Commander in Chief of all United Kingdom armed forces, which would include the shadowy and largely unaccountable undercover units widely believed responsible for inciting sectarian conflict in the north of Ireland, and to have carried out terrorist attacks in the 26 counties. Until Britain deals with its recent past record in Ireland, it must continue to be seen as a hostile and adversarial neighbour. The visit of Queen Elizabeth will be viewed by many as a provocative and unwelcome intrusion.

Gerry Adams writes in Building a Better Future:

THE PEACE PROCESS has created the space in which the possibility of a different kind of relationship between the people of this island and between Ireland and Britain has been made possible.

That relationship is still evolving. Nationalists and unionists in the North are engaged in a unique power-sharing and partnership mode of governance – and all-Ireland political structures are established and beginning to work well.

But our country and our people are still divided. The British still claim jurisdiction over the North, even though this is now in a conditional way, and there remain many legacy and justice issues that are unresolved.

For all these reasons, Sinn Féin set out our concerns about the visit of the English queen at this time.

Nonetheless, mindful that the people of this island are on a journey out of conflict, and that unionists have a close affinity with the British monarchy, Irish republicans have sought to be constructive in how we responded to this event.

I have also expressed my hope that some good will come from it.

The political reality in Britain, of course, is that the legal and constitutional powers of the Queen rest with the British Prime Minister of the day. It is David Cameron who personally exercises all of the Crown Prerogatives and does so without recourse to the British Parliament.

This includes approving Queen Elizabeth’s speeches.

Many people who I have spoken to, particularly people from the North, are disappointed that she did not apologise for Britain’s role in Irish affairs in her remarks on Wednesday. This disappointment is understandable given the huge hype around the visit, the difficulties surrounding it and the expectations raised by it.

For my part, I believe that the expression by the Queen of England of sincere sympathy for those who have suffered as a result of the conflict is genuine and I welcome that. Many victims and victims’ families will expect her government to now act on that as quickly as possible and to deal with legacy issues, particularly those involving British state forces and collusion in a forthright manner.

As we have said many times, Sinn Féin wants to see a real, new and profoundly better relationship between the peoples of Ireland and Britain, one built on equality and respect.

Niall O’Dowd of Irish Central / Irish America Magazine writes – Queen Elizabeth announces end to war between Irish and British —-historic visit brings end to 800-year conflict:

Dublin: The sheer shock of Queen Elizabeth speaking Gaelic during her remarks at a state dinner in her honor was bad enough.

Then there was the shot of her standing to attention for the Irish national anthem, and then of her laying a wreath on the remembrance plot for IRA heroes.

This is all too much to bear.

Do I wake or dream?

Has someone invented a Bizzaro world, you know that planet that Superman lived on before he came down to earth where everything was the direct opposite of what it was supposed to be?

What has happened here this week in Ireland has been little short of extraordinary.

Basically, the British have made the decision to bury the hatchet.

Hugh Green writes at Politico.ie – Signifyin’:

It would be the height of immaturity, therefore, at this late stage, to discuss Northern Ireland in terms of a state that was the product, in the beginning, of a dominant property-owning class forming a massive armed militia to protect itself from local government by poorer people of a different religion. These days, things have moved on, and just as maturity demands that, in the presence of the British monarch, Northern Ireland’s past should be left behind, so too should any ideas we might have about owning classes wreaking havoc in Ireland…

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging deep personal pain and trauma inflicted as a result of this action. What is remarkable, however, is that in a country that purports to be a republic, and in light of the triumphant claims of ‘partnership’ and ‘equality’ that appeared in reports of the Queen’s visit, the monarch’s personal pain was given far greater acknowledgement than has ever been given to the pain, suffering and death inflicted on many people living on this island by agents of the British state.

Among these people are the families of the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. We should not hold our breaths to hear sustained commentary on what is symbolised by the British government refusing to release any further documents. But there are other victims too, not only of the Glenanne gang – a band of loyalist paramilitaries and security force members with links to a military base in Castledillon, Armagh – which is widely believed to have carried out the bombings, but victims of people like Billy Wright, whose families suspect state collusion in the deaths of their loved ones. Their demands are habitually assumed to require some sort of elaborate state choreography, where justice is forever delayed because of some sort of quid pro quo process with the republican movement, for further investigation to take place. In some cases, further investigation is impossible because of the destruction, by police, of potential evidence. There is a lack of expertise, alas, when it comes to interpreting the symbolism involved, in light of this, in inviting UDA and UVF members to ceremonies with the Queen in Dublin whilst the pain of these people is officially ignored…

Bernard Porter, writing in the London Review of Books, offers a hint:

One of (MI5’s) concerns over the IRA’s bombing campaign in the City of London in the 1990s was that it ‘threatened to put at risk its survival as Europe’s main financial capital’; and I happen to know that ‘the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism’ is still on MI5’s list of potential targets to be safeguarded against subversion, though I’m not at liberty to reveal my source (the Chatham House Rule, don’t you know), which of course makes my evidence unreliable.

Protecting the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism and safeguarding financial institutions: one would have to admit that successive Irish governments have been doing a pretty solid job of this, even as they venerate Ireland’s revolutionary past at their commemorative ceremonies. But if this is all the struggle for Irish freedom was about, is it any wonder, in this era of ‘new economic challenges’, that the Queen bowed her head?

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