“This position could prove a political liability…”

Via Newshound.  In the Sunday Times Liam Clarke picked up on the reaction by the Sinn Féin president, and still Crown Steward and Bailiff of Northstead, Gerard Adams to the recent reports of a possible visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II later this year.  Here’s the An Phoblacht report of that reaction

I don’t think the queen should come. There are hugely unresolved matters in terms of the British still claiming jurisdiction even though in terms of the Good Friday Agreement they have moved away from the Government of Ireland Act.

It has been done away with not least because of Sinn Féin’s diligence during those negotiations.

I think it’s premature and too soon.

When we have right across this island a dispensation based entirely upon the wishes of all of us who live here and no British jurisdiction at all, then that might be a different matter.

From the Sunday Times article

The Sinn Féin president suggests the historic gesture shouldn’t happen until after a British withdrawal from Ireland. That used to be what he said about an IRA ceasefire and taking seats in the Dáil. Having moved from all such positions, not to mention having the title Baron Northstead thrust upon him as the price of resigning as a Westminster MP, there is not a lot of logic in his continuing opposition to a royal visit.

He has met prime ministers, British civil servants and police chiefs whose role in exercising “British jurisdiction in Ireland”, as he puts it, is real and direct. What is so different about the Queen, whose main role is to preside at state functions and rubber-stamp government decisions? Presumably there is an electoral calculation involved. Sinn Féin is good at those, but, to a casual observer, Adams appears to be out of touch with public opinion on this issue, and not just in the south.

Not only rubber-stamping of government decisions, but also decisions by the administration at Stormont.

Liam Clarke goes on to point out that there was a royal visitor in Belfast recently, and Prince Charles, for it was he, attended the re-opening of the restored St Malachy’s Catholic Church.  Where he was met by, amongst others, the SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell and the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson.

In the north, Sinn Féin’s touchiness about royal occasions has become something of a liability. For instance, last week Peter Robinson, the DUP first minister, attended the reopening of St Malachy’s church, which had undergone a £3.5m restoration, in the strongly nationalist Markets area of Belfast. He was hosted by Martin Graham, a curate, and applauded by a crowd when he left.

Why was he not accompanied, or replaced, by Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister whose party gets a lot of votes in the Markets and who is a practising Catholic? No doubt he would plead a diary commitment, but the fact is that McGuinness could not have attended, even if he had been free all day, because Prince Charles was also there. The prince was a guest of Fr Graham, who chatted to him about the church’s architecture and plaster work. Charles was also applauded when he left.

It does, as Liam Clarke suggests, have echoes of OFMDFM’s failure to accept their invitation to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s official welcome on the first-ever papal state visit to the UK.

Something similar happened last year when the Pope was received in Scotland by the Queen. Both Robinson and McGuinness were invited as representatives of Northern Ireland, but neither could make it. They pleaded an appointment with Mammon – the opening of a New York Stock Exchange office in Belfast.

However, the suspicion lingers that McGuinness didn’t go because it would have meant meeting the Queen, and Robinson, a born-again Protestant, stayed away because he didn’t want to encounter the Pope.

Many DUP members decline to attend Catholic funerals, citing theological reservations about the doctrine of transubstantiation. It sounds contrived and less than neighbourly; more what you might expect from a member of an obscure protest group on the wilder fringes of fundamentalism, not from an elected leader with civic responsibilities.

Still, interesting to see some progress… by some