“Sticking your head in the sand is no good”

The Sinn Féin mayor of Cashel Town Council, Michael Browne, has been writing his own “next page” by officially greeting Queen Elizabeth II to the Rock of Cashel – to his party’s apparent surprise.  He did signal his endorsement of the visit beforehand.

As the Irish Independent reports

Mr Browne said he had made his position clear on the queen’s visit weeks beforehand. The 63-year-old had said he would welcome the queen to Cashel if the majority of the people in the town wanted him to do so.

He met the queen and Prince Philip in the vicar’s choral area of the Rock of Cashel yesterday morning just moments before they departed.

Mr Browne acknowledged that some of his party colleagues would have had a problem with him meeting the queen. “But my attitude was that you are elected by the people and for the people.

“I always made it clear that if a position ever arose where there is party before people — then the people will come first,” he said.

Mr Browne acknowledged that he was probably the first Sinn Fein representative to meet the queen in an official capacity.

“Sticking your head in the sand is no good,” he added.

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  • Henry94

    Well done Cllr. Browne. Sinn Fein best represented my position before the visit and I thought it was important that there was a peaceful voice of dissent.

    But if and when she comes back I’d like to see them attending the various functions. The people of Ireland have defined the visit as an expression of friendship and equality.

    Of course it’s a tricky one for the party and it’s easy to ignore that and just knock them but they have their history to consider and I’m sure we can all imagine what it is like to stand in their shoes at a time like this.

  • Well done the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cashel, Mr Michael Browne. A realist and a pragmatist who did not hesitate to put the people he represents first. Priceless publicity for Cashel and a lesson in the way forward for his party leaders.

  • GavBelfast

    Good for him.

    The Mayor is the mayor for the people, not his party.

  • Operating outside the party comfort zone takes courage. Michael Browne has done so, despite a major health problem. Widening the focus but keeping to the theme of disconcerting welcome, the late James Rodgers, a DUP councillor, stuck his neck out – and got chopped – when he invited President Robinson to the Kingdom of Moyle; William Graham, a UUP councillor and chair, welcomed President McAleese without a murmur of dissent as far as I recall but Minister Conor Murphy SF, Minister Alex Attwood SDLP and Cara McShane , SF councillor and chair, were unable to extend a hand of friendship at the time of the Royal Visit to the Causeway and to Rathlin Island.

  • Alias

    If he didn’t meet her as the Lord Mayor of the town and thereby damage its commercial interests, would he have been re-elected? It’s self-interest before principle…

  • Henry94


    The man in question is very I’ll and in unlikely to seek re-election to the council. He is serving as Mayor for the year. It will be someone else next year in any case. So it’s a bit unfair to suggest electoral considerations.

  • Henry94

    Of course ill not i’ll. Feckin’ auto-correct.

  • slappymcgroundout

    As some others have already speculated, well, do you think that if Sinn Fein did not want this to happen, our man in the wheelchair might have had some other commitment, say related to his health, and so someone else meets and greets? So testing the water. They put out the post handshake, “we’re surprised” to cover their rear ends. Now they get to see the reaction of their base, i.e., how many Sein Fein supporters say, sure who cares if he shook her hand, she’s just a wee old woman…

  • Cynic2


    “Self interest before principle”

    You assume that the only principle anyone is allowed to hold is your own. I am sure that living a life with such a narrow world view and so full of self justification is very comfortable. be happy, Meanwhile the rest of us will get on with real life.

  • Alias

    “So it’s a bit unfair to suggest electoral considerations.” – Henry94

    How can it be unfair to a politician to suggest that electoral considerations are considered by a politician? If the man had any principles, he wouldn’t be a member of PSF.

    “You assume that the only principle anyone is allowed to hold is your own. I am sure that living a life with such a narrow world view and so full of self justification is very comfortable. be happy, Meanwhile the rest of us will get on with real life.” – Cynic

    Grow up, you silly boy. I have not called for the Lord Mayor to be censored as a result of his action, so I fail to see how your man-playing is even remotely related to my post. You, on the other hand, seen to be very quick to engage in personal attacks on those whose views do not align with your own.

  • Mick Fealty

    Now you have finished your Havana Alias, you are still on a Yellow.


    “If the man had any principles, he wouldn’t be a member of PSF.”

    Now tell me why that should not earn you a RED card…

  • Henry94


    How can it be unfair to a politician to suggest that electoral considerations are considered by a politician?

    Usually it is not. It is is this case for the reasons I gave. He’s not a Lord Mayor by the way. Cashel has a Mayor.

    If the man had any principles, he wouldn’t be a member of PSF

    I’d be interested to hear who you see as the parties of principle in Irish politics.

  • perseus

    there’s many a man who’s come a cropper at the rock of cashel.
    Great to see the crowds at Cork
    and SF mayor explained his principle

  • Mick Fealty


    There won’t be another visit. Not like this one. Mr Browne did what suspect Gerry was not allowed to do, and follow his instincts.

  • Why is it such a big deal? Just who do SF think they represent. The queen is met by the President and the Taoiseach but its beneath the dignity of SF? The Mayor of Cashel was right. All the whining in the world won’t change that.

  • “Just who do SF think they represent.”

    pippakin, SF is a much broader church than it’s HQ website presents. There are obviously North/South differences but there are also quite wide variations in each of the two jurisdictions, not to mention the SF ‘diaspora. Stories seeping out through the Grapevine indicate that all is far from well for the organisation in North Antrim in general and Moyle in particular.

    SF HQ might exude an aura of ‘democratic centralism’ but issues such as ‘blood being thicker than water’, ‘all politics is local’ and ‘the local fear factor’ are not so easily resolved.

  • Henry94


    I hope she does come back in a few years irrespective of Sinn Fein’s position. Now that we all know how it went it’s easy to say what Sinn Fein should have done but they have another flank to consider.

    There is leadership and there is moving so far ahead that you lose touch with your base. In any case some unionists appear less than happy with aspects of the visit. Those feeling may have been made worse if Adams and McGuinness had attended.

    I accept that SF could have played it better in retrospect but I was happy with the call they made at the time so I can’t berate them now. Even those who were most optimistic about the visit are saying there expectations were exceeded.

    If it was my decision I’d have brought her to the Aras for tea and got her out fast and safely. I thought bringing her to Cork was a completely unnecessary security complication. I’m very happy that I was wrong.

  • USA

    I think Slappy has a point. The SF mayor of Cashel may not be seeking re-election, so he had nothing (politically) to lose. His greeting of Queenie could have been authorized by SF HQ. Testing the waters so to speak, and given that all other southern parties met her, it covers their asses with “middle Ireland” and can be referred to if questioned.
    Also have to agree with the person who felt the visit did not mark new territory between Ireland and Britain but merely reflected work that had already been done.

  • Nevin

    A lot of political partys are also ‘broad churches’ but it should not interfere with common sense! SF missed an opportunity to do the deed with no loss of face, just when will a suitable opportunity arise, when there is a united Ireland? that could take years, probably will, and in the meantime business continues as usual except for the little boys with the black balloons.

    Slappy may well have been right the leaders may have been watching the reaction of their more excitable members which I feel is a mistake because no one else is waiting and watching. Its time for SF to lead, they did it before and everyone gained.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Sinn Fein is now at that delicate stage – flirting with the Brits, while pretending to keep on wanting to be seen as keeping them at arms length.

    For example, Martin McGuiness is not quite at the stage of wanting to be publically seen cosying up to David Cameron at Westminster – but keeps hinting that if the door to 10 Downing is kept on the latch, he might just dander past – and might just drop in on the off-chance of a wee tete-a-tete with David.

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    Good that Sinn Féin mayor of Cashel Town Council, Michael Browne played his part in the whole scheme of things as an elected rep. The ‘flip flop’ and inconsistant language and opinion from Sinn Féin HQ is just rediculous!

  • Tweedybird

    Michael Browne shook the queen’s hand….and the sky didn’t fall in !!! Gerry Kelly blew a fuse when he was asked by a BBC reporter the other week was he sending out the proper signals to the young voters on his party’s continued public praise for IRA men killed during the troubles at the recent Easter Rising rallies. In their recent election campaign we were constantly told by John O’Dowd and co about the need to stop looking in the past and recently lectured Tom Elliott on his indiscretions. This tour of the Queen just showed how out of step they are with the ROI public, I’d have thought they’d have learnt from the DUP’s previous stance of abstinence when ever any of his party were in-attendance on the set up of the GFA. I hear their (SF ) own words “lack of maturity” still ringing in my ears.

  • “Its time for SF to lead, they did it before and everyone gained.”

    pippakin, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that the PRM was led by others from outside the flock to a much less violent place. Once the threat of major violence had receded the others moved on and the PRM has been left with its own much more limited resources.