I’ve a piece in today’s Guardian on the visit of the Queen to Dublin, which began yesterday. At the heart of the matter, I argue that yes, it is historic, and yes it may be cathartic.
But I also that by and large, despite some deft handling and framing of the event by Belfast born President, Mary McAleese, this visit is very much for the benefit of the Irish people of the 26 counties, rather than those of us living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Here’s the last two paragraphs:
…this is not to be a joyful occasion, there is little enough cause for that in the country at this time. But instead it will be both a formal and a respectful one. In her visit to Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance today she paid homage to the violent origins of the Irish state’s earlier struggles to win its independence from her grandfather, George V. At the Islandbridge Memorial to those thousands of Irishmen who died in the service of the British army, the nation may take a moment to reflect on its long and complex ties both with the other island, and that disembodied northern part of itself still represented by this visiting head of state.
More important, I suspect, it will be about the Republic putting on a stately show of sovereignty at a time when many citizens are struggling to retain their belief in its hard-won independence.
We should not underestimate the power of ceremony, not least the ‘gunna scréach’ of Irish cannon launched in honour of a British Head of State… The Irish President has had her day in the sun, and the Constitution one of its few, if only fleetingly, powerful moments in the public gaze of its people.
And for the record, RTE’s report on the visit to An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin: