The Queen’s visit means politics is catching up with the people’s interests

The dissident republican threat may be a factor in  producing a confusing response to the Queen’s visit from Gerry Adams. In the Examiner he ‘d seemed to cast aside SinnFein’s former reservations to welcoming it grumpily, seeing it as an opportunity for “much fuller discussion” about the British-Irish relationship. This would allow him to write its significance into the republican narrative rather than leave it for the various rejectionist IRAs to capture. Later under questioming he went back to calling it “premature,” which undermines his article, adding the doublethink that is position is “very very clear” – a sure sign that it’s anything but. Well anyway we get the gist, Gerry wants the best of both worlds as ever.

Security blitz is the inevitable Sunday lead. While the visit is of course historic and memorable etc. and may even have its electric moment at the 1916 Garden of Remembrance (don’t forget all those dead squaddies in Mount St and the hundreds of Dublin citizens killed too) – the formalities  and protocol  somehow fail to express the  interwoven nature of the relationship.  Enda Kenny, decent man, has just been on the Andrew Marr show talking rather stiffly about “new era, mutual respect between our two countries.. normalised relationship,  trade…etc” almost as if the President of Mexico was about to arrive.

In fact the politics involved, like the achievement of full devolution, and the easier diplomacy after the replacement of Articles 2 and 3, have lagged behind the human realities for decades. The last to benefit and now with the most to gain is the unionist tradition, after the full and mutual recognition of the consent principle and the new found warmth with which it was enacted in the Republic. Once, few southerners ventured north and that has changed.  But still, vestiges over the unionist boycott of the south remain – out of old habits probably – and should be removed.

In my case the border was drawn four miles from my front door and it was farcical to think my relatives as foreigners. We can now return to  enjoying the Puckoon character of the differences.  I have a Donegal friend who used to say she was going up to shop in NATO. I in turn was leaving the Commonwealth and entering the Eurozone. The border is now marked with the EU symbol and a welcome in French from Donegal County Council. More seriously it’s good news that people will soon no longer have to make the 250 km round trip to stay in DublIn overnight for radiotherapy when they can have it in two hours in Altnagelvin.  Good call, Executive.

For me, we are one of another on terms both states accept. We Northerners have always enjoyed joint citizenship in one form or another.   But Britain and Ireland go together in ways over and above the definition of the nation state. Some prefer to keep their distance as is their right.

My hope is that the remarkably few rough edges remaining are smoothed out without challenge beyond the odd pedantic and pretty harmless row.  We have at last picked up the momentum of the mid sixties when for a moment the trend of better relationships all round seemed so obvious. Despite the passage of nearly 50 years and over 3000 violent deaths, the trend is an obvious as ever.

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  • iluvni

    The FAI have thrown a big spanner in the new era, mutual respect scenario as far as I’m concerned.
    Maybe Kenny can have a word with those unscrupulous dirtbags and tell them to respect the gentleman’s agreement of previous years.

  • Chris Donnelly


    The inability of too many within the unionist tradition to respect the all-Ireland identity of the nationalist community is to blame for the IFA’s stubborn position, one which has blown up in their faces. And one which a Sinn Fein DCAL Minister will waste little time in driving home if the ever-vexed Windsor fraternity challenge him/ her.

    In many ways, Iluvni’s view point reflects a flaw in Brian’s analysis.

    Unionism is not the last to gain from the British-Irish rapprochment; that position belongs to northern nationalists, the ‘ghosts at the feast’ in the post-partition era, when the unionists were left to construct a state in their own image as the southerners sought to grapple with the difficulties of self-governance.

    Tom Elliott’s comments last week illustrate how difficult it still is for many unionists to accede to the legitimacy of expressions of the Irish nationalist identity in the north, something that unionism will have to in the time ahead.

    That’ll mean finding a place for not only the Irish National flag in the north but also remembrance within the Irish nationalist/ republican tradition.

    The latter point appeared to touch a nerve for Brian- hence the squaddies and civilians remark in the thread above. A valid point, yes, but one hopes Brian is as exercised with regard to remembering deceased military opponents and civilians when Britain’s war dead are recalled…….

  • Blissett

    The supposed confusion was caused by the fact that the Examiner ran with an article on the front page that generally misrepresented Adams piece, which was generally well measured, striking a balance between being too childish and oppositional, and flatly accepting it. Adams not surprisingly wanted to clarify on the front page article which made his statement look like a u turn when it was anything but.
    The position could be summed up as ‘we didnt want it to happen, we dont agree with it, its a bit early, but look its not the end of the world and if she must come, well shur please god something good will come out of it in the end’

  • Alf

    Now that the elections are out of the way Uncle Gerry doesn’t have to make noises that appeal to the drones.

  • Hopping The Border

    “The FAI have thrown a big spanner in the new era, mutual respect scenario as far as I’m concerned.”

    Dear oh dear, here we go again Iluvni you just can’t seem to let it lie!

    On a positive note it seems Shane Ferguson will be soon be lining for ROI!

  • Brian, surely it’s time you updated your labelling; ‘Britain’ and ‘the Republic’ are so dated. The current labels are the United Kingdom/UK and Ireland with Northern Ireland for the ‘wee six’. Adams reliance on the ‘Queen of England’ is a quair geg.

  • ForkHandles

    Only old people say Britain. UK is what most people use. But the Republic should still be called the Republic, because it is not all of Ireland. This would avoid confusion of including Northern Ireland in something that only relates to the Republic.

  • perseus

    what will be of significance is her comments at the war memorials.
    am half-expecting to read ” Unionist fury at …” in the morning papers.
    but we’ll see ..
    meanwhile for quiet listeners there’s a charming 1/2 hr on BBC Iplayer :
    Irish Blood English Hearts byJoseph O Connor
    a perfect length for the gaps between slippers, horlicks and bedtime.

  • Alias

    Good article from Mr Adams. Which one of the prime minister’s advisors wrote it for him?

  • 241934 john brennan

    Why would Gerry Adams hold, or express any consistent strong convictions, for or against, the Queen’s visit to Ireland? Are his views and stated opinions not mainly flexible and tailored to suit circumstances and audiences?

    For example when he appeared on an RTE ‘religious’ programme , he told Gay Byrne that he regularly attends Sunday Mass. Then forgetting the fact, that after the Gospel at each Mass, he publically stands with the congregation to vocally profess firm belief in core tenets of Catholic Faith (as given in the Nicene Creed) – he then went on in that TV interview to say that he did not know if Jesus “is THE SON OF GOD, or a just son of god like the rest of us – or if Jesus actually rose from the dead (the Resurrection) etc.

  • Kevin Barry

    Perseus, thanks for the link, excellent from Joe as always.

    I imagine the visit and its spirit in general will be a lot like when the English rugby team played in Croker, some contrition noting previous atrocities but focusing mainly on how far we have come and that we’ve more in common than most etc etc

    John 8675309, you really got GA with that insight above.

  • perseus

    good one kev
    you hit the note there as regards what can be expected.
    others can speculate on adams conspiracies
    but hey that’s what bottom-feeders do.

  • Roy Walsh

    I do not like the pending visit of the British queen to this country, it not being her first time but, I would hope what Perseus hints at is correct, she has already apologized to the Maori 16 years ago and I should hope an similar action will be pronounced in this next visit.
    What is particularly objectionable is the fact she will be accompanied largely by the fawning Enda Kenny who will doubtless attempt to be more British than, well not her as she’s German.
    Despite this I do feel that the invitation, despite widespread opposition throughout Ireland, will cement the bridges built over many years of peace process, hopefully idiots opposed to what the vast majority want will take a step back and permit it to pass peaceably.

  • Brian Walker

    Well plenty of nitpicking here but overall I’d say the ayes have it.

    Chris you have a point about the nationalist gain. Of course it’s a commonplace to feel sorrow for dead Germans etc during the war.We all can afford to at this distance. I feel as engaged as anyone by the characters of the Easter Rising and intrigued by Ernie O’Malley’s writing on the later period. The southern Irish are getting over this need for endless balance that perhaps the north is still too insecure to abandon.

    But hey isn’t it time for both sides with “minds open as a trap” to stop feeling sorry for themselves? How about chilling on the differences, drop our guards and go for real wholehearted warmth?. Northern nationalists included.

    Nevin, ” Britain” lives in my lexicon boy, despite the fad for “UK” from the world of alphabet soup. I have to admit I’m getting a little older anyway so I win on both counts.

  • Chris Donnelly


    You introduced the ‘need for endless balance’ with reference to the squaddies and civilians.

    Insecurity, how are ya?!?

  • Brian, it’s not a fad, it brings a little more clarity to the conversation 🙂 Most folks, I’d think, would associate ‘Britain’ more with the larger island than with the state. You may be getting on but that’s no excuse for not keeping up-to-date!

  • Munsterview

    John B : “….. he then went on in that TV interview to say that he did not know if Jesus “is THE SON OF GOD, or a just son of god like the rest of us – or if Jesus actually rose from the dead (the Resurrection) etc….. ”

    And I suppose you do ‘ know’ John ? Care to cite your proofs, it could clear up more than a few arguments that have precopied Christian theologians since the very beginnings of church.

    Unfortunately John the vast majority of Roman Catholics and the rest of the Christians Community do not have your direct line to ‘The Above’ all the billions of these and I presume Gerry falls into this category, must settle for mere belief, be that belief qualified or otherwise.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Munsterview: My point is lack of consistency by G.A. Personally,I wouldn’t publically stand in Church on a Sunday morning to assert belief in something – and then later in the day contradict my own publically spoken words in a TV studio.

    By His Resurrection from the dead Jesus proved He was indeed the Son God. The Resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact, with many witnesses and manifestations all historically verified (1. Cor 15:5/6 – Lk24:5-6 etc). It is also recorded historical fact that these witnesses and many others including all the Apostles, except John, were cruelly put to death for asserting the truth of the Resurrection – Would it not be a more incredibly unique thing (than the Resurrection) for such a diverse group of people, scattered over a wide area and a long period of time, to accept torture and death in order to perpetuate belief in a myth?

  • Perseus. There will be a queue of unionists at NI questions on Wednesday trying to submit calls for no apologies from the Queen. They’re so predictable. I don’t know what time the wreathlaying is at on Wednesday, but probably in the afternoon. NI questions is at 11.30. ligh the blue touchpaper and stand well back..

  • tacapall

    Here’s a reminder of what happens when you get on the wrong side of lizzie and her pack of parasites.

  • carl marks


    sorry but you still have given up proof of the claims of Resurrection all that you have proved is that you believe the bible,

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    How is it that there are what can only be described as rather simple and dumb thicks within the so called republican movement in Ireland. How is it that they cannot understand that the queen is just a symbolic figurehead that has no political say whatsoever. The British PM calls the shots and always has done since since the olden days centuries ago when the English chopped one kings head off and subsequently ran another one outta town.

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    oh and these eirigi protestors are ignorant morons by getting us Irish folk a bad name by fulfilling the age old stereotype of us Irish being cultureless, thick, slow, ignorant and violent!!


  • The argument by the descendants of the Easter Rising heroes, that this visit is premature because six counties are being retained, could be countered by the British, by saying that , due to the GFA they have done their part in their statenmment relinquishing any ‘economic or selfish interest’ in the north, and are just waiting for demographics to outwork the end of the statelet.
    In other words, NI is, for them, no longer in UK as of right, but out on the ‘ledge’ awaiting the final push from within.

  • AGlassOfHine

    The argument by the descendants of the Easter Rising heroes, that this visit is premature because six counties are being retained, could be countered by the British, by saying that , due to the GFA they have done their part in their statenmment relinquishing any ‘economic or selfish interest’ in the north, and are just waiting for demographics to outwork the end of the statelet.
    In other words, NI is, for them, no longer in UK as of right, but out on the ‘ledge’ awaiting the final push from within.


    As far as I can make out,YOU are the only one getting your knickers in a twist over The Queens visit !!
    This *final push from within*,care to set a deadline on it,or is 2016 as far away as El Beardos last shave ?? 😉

    Re; Britian/UK………..sure British Isles will do……….surely no one would argue about that ??

  • glassofwhine. I made a flat assessment of possibilities. you’re the one going off the deep end in response.

  • AGlassOfHine

    Ah right. Gotcha now…………… timeline available then,I take it ?

    This *flat assessment of possibilities*,takes into account 40% of the nationalist/republican community,voting to retain the Union,does it ?

    Not going off any deep end……..just asking for clarification. 😉

  • 25% probably, 40% is farfetched. certainly by 2030 there would be a much slimmed down margin in favour. It’s academic to me as I don’t expect to see any change in status here.

  • AGlassOfHine

    The * final push from within *,has shifted to 2030…….maybe.
    Glad we got that clarified.
    Hankering after an Ireland,free from Btitish influence,is today,with Her Majestys visit,being seen to be the absurdity it always was.


  • antamadan

    Should unionists boycott their Queen, for laying a wreath at the Garden of rememberence (for those that fought for Irish freedom)?

    What were Eirigí protesting about outside, when the Queen was praying for the sould of Pádraic Pearse?

  • antamadan

    This tit-for-tat remembrance is really going places. I wonder should QE2 go to both British and 1798 or 1919-21 services in N,I,. as well?