Signs of the times…

IRISH President Mary McAleese visited my old school yesterday, and – perhaps surprisingly for the staunch Paisley heartland of Ballymena – there was no DUP protest against her presence. Another positive sign of the times was the way the Setanta Cup draw between Derry City FC and Linfield passed off peacefully, although nothing was left to chance.One thing I’m curious about though, was how the DUP’s representatives on the school’s board of governors regarded the school visit by McAleese. Was their attitude the same in the Academy’s corridors of power as in the corridors of Ardeevin? Anyone know if votes were taken?

  • Ziznivy

    Come on Council Chops! Spill! :O)

  • slug

    Ballymena Academy invite the Irish President to come visit.

    Yet the Queen has never been invited to go visit the Irish Republic.

  • RmcC

    I hope Mary remembered to cover her head.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yet the Queen has never been invited to go visit the Irish Republic.

    slug, this seems to be your ‘single transferrable post’.

  • slug

    The Queen of the UK is now nearly 80. She has been in the job – head of state of the Irish Republic’s nearest neighbour – for more than 50 years. The Queen is an important and loved symbol for most unioists. Yet never has she been invited to visit the Irish Republic.

  • Stephen Copeland

    The Queen of the UK is now nearly 80.

    Surely time to retire.

    She has been in the job – head of state of the Irish Republic’s nearest neighbour – for more than 50 years.

    And … ?

    The Queen is an important and loved symbol for most unioists. Yet never has she been invited to visit the Irish Republic.

    Um, thats cos there aren’t any unionists in the ‘Irish Republic’, slug. She goes to the north to see them. Thats where they live, so its easier for everyone if she goes there. What’s your point?

  • Lorcan

    Delighted to see Mary McAleese so well recieved. Looks like a good school.

    Don’t see what one has to do with the other but just as a matter of interest, if the Queen were to grace us in the Republic with her presence I for one would be delighted to see her.

    Unfortunately however, after the recent fiasco in O’Connell street with the FAIR march I think we’ll have to wait for a long time and by then it will be King Charles, who I would be just as happy to see visit.

    For what it’s worth.

  • Rory

    It would have been quite impossible for the Queen to be invited to visit the Irish republic while articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution were still in play. No nation state would invite the head of another nation state on a state visit while that nation state was claiming jurisdiction over part of its sovreign territory, in this case the claim by the UK government over the sovereign Irish territory of the 6 counties.

    This has now changed since the referendum attaching to the GFA and I believe a visit by Elizabeth II to Dublin has already been discussed.

    When that happens I am sure that you will be welcome, Slug, to go down and welcome Her Majesty along with your fellow Irish citizens in the South. I am sure that Her Majesty would be delighted.

  • slug

    “She has been in the job – head of state of the Irish Republic’s nearest neighbour – for more than 50 years.”

    “And … ? ”

    The “and” is: and she has not been invited in that very long time period.

    “She goes to the north to see [unionists]. Thats where they live, so its easier for everyone if she goes there. What’s your point? ”

    Of course she visits NI. An invitation from the Irish Republc would be something different. It would be the normal symbol of good diplomacy between two neighbouring states. Yet it has not happened in more than 50 years on the throne.

    This is not about the unionists getting to see the Queen. It is about everyone in the kingdom – including the unionists – getting to see the Queen being officially welcomed to Dublin.

  • slug

    “Slug, to go down and welcome Her Majesty along with your fellow Irish citizens in the South.”

    I would not go – it would be a day for the people and citizens of the Irish Republc and I am not an Irish citizen.

    The Queen would be representing me as a British citizen. I would like the Queen to be invited. Which is why I mention it so often 🙂

    I am glad the ROI people here seem in favour.

  • RmcC

    Could be someone in the Republic doesn’t wish to encourage the sort of antiquated statehood her maj represents.

    Not that she’d be unwelcome, far from it. Most of the citizens would be falling over one another to tug the forelock and curtsey. It’s the peculiar nature of the proles (even the ones who think they’re staunch republicans) to be awed in the presence of majesty.

  • slug

    More good news from Ballymena.

  • seabhac siulach

    “Yet the Queen has never been invited to go visit the Irish Republic.”

    In my opinion, the continuing failure to solve, once and for all, the Northern question is the one remaining reason why the queen has not been invited to the 26 counties…paradoxically, it is the Unionist parties and their stalling on power sharing that is holding up this prospect. Only when orange and green are united in government and it looks like historical emnities have finally been put aside, can the Queen realistically be invited to visit. As it is there is still too much unresolved ‘history’ for her to just turn up tomorrow. It is the symbolism of the thing. Her visit must be taken, and is clearly being set up to be, the symbolic end point of the long historical troubles between Ireland and England (no, not Britain) and the beginning of a more mature relationship…but, for the moment, such a final reconciliation is dependent (as so much else) on the stubbornness and boneheadedness of certain unionists to see the light…
    The Queen’s visit therefore is of far greater symobolic importance than the mere daytrips of President McAleese to the province (9 counties!) where she was born…and the two should not be so tritely compared.
    I would say that the Queen’s visit will occur shortly after the restoration of the assembly executive…so sometime this year or early next year(??).
    Strange for me to say it, but the Queen’s visit should be a cause for celebration as it will mean that all historical problems can finally be left where they belong…in the past…and those of us on these islands can look instead to the those things that unite us and that we share in common, not those that divide us…

  • slug

    The link I intended was: more good news from Ballymena

  • RmcC

    “The site of the mural is close to Our Lady`s church in Harryville, which was the site of a long-running loyalist protest with priests and mass-goers enduring abuse.”

    I forget, slug. What were the “loyalists” protesting against?

  • RmcC

    Rather off topic, sorry, but slug’s link sent me there.

    Here’s the question: Am I the only one who finds that the UTV favicon resembles a stylized Orange collarette? 🙂

  • fair_deal

    Am I the only one who finds that the UTV favicon resembles a stylized Orange collarette?

    yes you are the only one

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Slug

    “Yet the Queen has never been invited to go visit the Irish Republic.”

    Er, are you sure about this? I could swear that President McAleese extended an invitation to the Queen during a meeting at Buckingham Palace a few years back? So the situation at present, as I understand it, is that the invitation has been extended, accepted in principle, and they’re working on the timing and logistics of the thing? (All of which of course is intimately tied up with progress in the north.)

    If I’m mistaken in my understanding then I’ll hold my hands up, but if I’m correct, does this mean anything to you?

  • yerman

    Stephen Copeland
    “Um, thats cos there aren’t any unionists in the ‘Irish Republic’,”

    And there in one small sentence shows the kind of sentiments which have left the small Protestant community in the Republic of Ireland so alienated.

    You’re complete dismissal that there might be any unionists in the Irish Republic of course, is nothing more than we should expect.

    I have quite a few relations who live in Donegal, and you’d be surprised a the number of, particularly more elderly people who have a picture of the Queen in their home. There are still a small, but relatively significant number of people, especially in the border counties of the Republic, who could possibly be described in loose terms as unionists.

    Even if these people aren’t by your definition ‘unionists’ there are still people in the Irish Republic who are strong supporters of the Queen and would particularly welcome a visit by her.

    You prefer to ignore those people though. And you wonder why the Protestant population of the Republic has went from 10% to 2% in about 2 generations.

  • RmcC

    “yes you are the only one”

    Er, how do you know? Did you ask everyone? 🙂

  • slug

    Billy

    Well I am sure there is an agreement on both sides that a visit should happen at some point, indeed statements to this effect have been issued, although no statement of formal invitation to my knowledge. But there seems to be a sense that the Queen can’t be invited right now while the same same considerations do not prevent the Irish President from being invited to and going to the UK generally and indeed to places like Ballymena specifically. Maybe a visit by the Queen to Dublin is thought more difficult or significany than a visit by the Irish President to London, or to Ballymena, but I am unsure why.

  • slug

    “I forget, slug. What were the “loyalists” protesting against?”

    The banning of a parade in Dunloy (a neighbouring village). By the way although the Harryville picket was itself a very wrong thing in my view, its resolution provided a story that gives me a lot of hope.

    Many people in the town were very much against the Harryville Chapel picket and turned out to counter-protest against the picket. It was the unique situation, in NI, of one side of the community coming out to protest against the behaviour of of its own co-religionists, and in support of the rights of the other side. At

    Very good leadership roles were played by the unionist mayor (James Currie) who joined the counter-protests, and the priest, Fr Symons, who took care to keep things as cool as possible. Symons subsequently has built up good relationships with the congregations of some prespbyterian churches in the town, sitting in on their services for example. These presbyterian congregations have shown their support for Catholic Chapel by coming along to paint out the sectarian grafitti that gets put there by some loyalists.

    These things have been done behind the scenes and in a low key way and they are the small acts of christian cooperation that make me happy and hopeful for the future.

  • Yokel

    Who cares where Liz gets invited to. I’m not sure it would make a jot of difference. Forget symbolism, we have too much of it already.

    There is an issue here in that, tell me if I’m wrong, the school invited Mary. If so I suspect, as posted before she was one name on a list..she said yes, if some news reader was available they’d have taken them as well as or instead of Mary….

  • RmcC

    Thanks for the info, slug!

    It’s certainly a heartening story. Perhaps we’ve turned a corner here. Gives me hope for the future too.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Slug

    “Well I am sure there is an agreement on both sides that a visit should happen at some point, indeed statements to this effect have been issued, although no statement of formal invitation to my knowledge.”

    My understanding is that President McAleese and the Queen have agreed that a visit will take place (presumably their back-room “people” are fully behind them on this) and the President has gone on record about her invitation. There may, perhaps, be some outstanding diplomatic protocol but surely, on an issue such as this, the spirit of the thing should trump paperwork? Suffice to say, both sides want the visit to happen, and it WILL happen when both sides think the time is right. Would you agree with that analysis? If so, does it mean anything to you? Surely you would accept that there is no question of a “No Queen Here” attitude on the part of the Irish state?

    (It might exist among a tiny minority of neanderthals in Ireland, like the ones we saw on the streets of Dublin last month. Would you agree that the trouble with a visit like this is that there will be a reluctance to proceed until it can be guaranteed to pass off PERFECTLY? So 99 per cent support and 99 per cent certainty that protests can be frustrated just ain’t enough?)

    “But there seems to be a sense that the Queen can’t be invited right now while the same same considerations do not prevent the Irish President from being invited to and going to the UK generally and indeed to places like Ballymena specifically. Maybe a visit by the Queen to Dublin is thought more difficult or significany than a visit by the Irish President to London, or to Ballymena, but I am unsure why.”

    Hmmm. Two things. For reasons purely related to personality, Mary McAleese visiting Ballymena is different from the Queen visiting Dublin. Mary McAleese is in her own county when she’s in Ballymena. In terms of the office she holds, that should be irrelevant, but her personality makes it relevant. I don’t think it’s just any Irish President that would be invited to Ballymena Academy or to go walkabout on the Shankill. The fact that she is perhaps says more about the popularity of Mary McAleese than about the office of Uachtarain na hEireann per se?

    On the issue of the Queen in Ireland, surely you must acknowledge that there is one profound distinction, and it’s this: unlike the Irish President re. the north, the Queen is the ancien regime in Ireland. The British monarchy has history in RoI – whereas the Irish President aspires to a future in NI.

    Regardless though, the day isn’t far off when Her Majesty pitches up in the 26, and more power to all involved. It’s high time things were thawing out.

    (Incidentally, just so I understand correctly, you welcome the President’s visit to Ballymena, right? I think you do, but there’s always a danger in pursuing the line of argument you are pursuing that you might appear not to. Or maybe you do?)

  • james

    A definite sign of progress. From my years at Ballymena Academy I knew one RC at the school and we never had any visitors like this. Although we as students had links with local RC schools (e.g., St Louis), through various societies, we had very little real communication. And the chance of getting the Irish president down during my time would have been zero.

    It’s great to see breakthoughs, however small, and long may they continue. If we can get school kids to see a progressive future, then maybe there is hope after all. Maybe.

  • Yokel

    Landmark agreement to remove loyalist paramiltary mural near Harryville church in return for reduction in tricolours flown in Ballymena…

    Here’s the sad news..1. it took the Wombles (The DA) to be involved which only gives them cred, …they can certainly change the mural but who is backing the parish priest to get down the number of Tricolours?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yerman,

    You prefer to ignore those people though. And you wonder why the Protestant population of the Republic has went from 10% to 2% in about 2 generations.

    Huh? I’m one of “those people”, as you call them, as are most of my family. Or rather, I’m one of the southern Prods that you claim to care about, but not one who has a picture of Frau Battenburg on their wall.

  • pakman

    Belfast Gonzo

    we share the same alma mater!

    Did you ever have a beard?

  • Jeremy

    Yerman – you seem to think that all the protestants in the Republic are automatically Unionists. People in the south dont look at a protestant irishman and assume that person is a subversive, someone who wishes for reintegration back into the UK. They dont even care that that person’s a protestant. You should live here for a while. If you look at the expereince of Irish protestant through your own prism then all you’ll see is a warped image. There used be a saying that the Irish were Mopes – the most oppressed people ever. It looks like that mantle is switching from the south to the north.

  • RmcC

    “I’m one of the southern Prods that you claim to care about, but not one who has a picture of Frau Battenburg on their wall.”

    LOL. Is she the one who “makes exceedingly good cakes” or am I confusing her with the son?

  • Brian Boru

    The Queen is welcome to visit this State if the govt agrees. I think it would be good and a reflection that relations between the 2 countries are now the best they have ever been. It’s extraordinary in a way that the last visit was in 1905.

  • Who

    Well if the monarchy ended it’s racism against Catholics maybe she could visit.Rule 1 A Catholic may never sit on the throne.

  • Reader

    Billy Pilgrim: unlike the Irish President re. the north, the Queen is the ancien regime in Ireland. The British monarchy has history in RoI – whereas the Irish President aspires to a future in NI.
    Oops – is that meant to make things easier for the President? Would it make it easier for the Queen to visit if she aspired to be queen of the whole of the British Isles?