Queen Elizabeth II, unionism and Irish nationalist remembrance in the north of Ireland

RG Cuan has picked up in this thread on one of the interesting features of  Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the south of Ireland to date, namely, how her usage of Irish sits uncomfortably with the petulant comments and acts attributed to unionist politicians regarding the Irish language.

But in this piece carried in the Belfast Telegraph earlier in the week, I focused on how the Queen’s more substantive gesture of remembering those who fell in the cause of striving to free Ireland from Britain’s occupation challenges unionists to adopt a more reconciliatory attitude to Irish nationalist remembrance in the north of Ireland, not least in this decade of centenaries, when a Sinn Fein DCAL Minister will rightly ensure that the anniversaries important to those of a nationalist/ republican persuasion are treated equally with those cherished by unionists.

Of course, finding reasons why we should not find space within our respective political visions for the other to acknowledge and remember past sacrifices is easy, and I fully expect comments on this thread to list actions carried out during the numerous conflicts- in Ireland and abroad- which led to the deaths of innocents and combatants alike.

But recognising that such an approach to the issue cuts both ways is one reason why I believe that this viewpoint should be rejected (by republicans and unionists alike.) And, perhaps more importantly, understanding that the ultimate fulfilment of the political aspirations of both unionism and Irish nationalism/ republicanism will require that such space be provided to both communities to render occasions of rememberance to be an accepted part of the political culture should compel political leaders to guide their communities towards this shared acceptance as we bed in the post-peace process era of devolution.

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