On Wednesday evening Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s Head of State, will making her only speech of her four day visit at the State Dinner. It’s this that is likely to be the political fulcrum of the whole visit, and upon which many Irish nationalists north and south will be expecting to hear important messages, not least about the past.
But Kevin Myers has an interesting fly to foist into the ointment, as he reflects on the asymetrical memories of the Irish and the English. In particular, he questions the validity of historical apologies, in particular with regard to the first Bloody Sunday:
…no soldiers opened fire at Croke Park, just policemen — and most of the recruits doing the shooting were Irish. And if the British intelligence was so crippled by the assassinations, how come the terms of the Treaty 13 months later so comprehensively favoured Britain’s strategic interests?
Queen Elizabeth was not born when Bloody Sunday occurred, and neither she nor any of her family had any association with it. This cannot be said of the Irish State, of which the third Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, was involved in the shooting of an unarmed army officer that morning — the one-legged Captain Baggalay, who was not involved in intelligence, but in civil administration.
His murder was an atrocious affair, but no intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war so long ago.