Diarmuid Ferriter has some interesting questions arising from Sinn Fein’s awkward positioning on the Queens Visit to the Republic:
…while Sinn Fein was opposed to this visit, it was a muted opposition. Anything louder would have involved Sinn Fein placing itself in the company of those opposed to the peace process, and given the move of Sinn Fein into the constitutional mainstream, north and south, this was not going to happen.
But the visit will worry them on some levels. Did it mark the acceptance of the permanence of partition? Is the consensus in the politics of the republic on this issue now such that a united Ireland is further away than ever? Was it the correct decision for Sinn Fein to stay away from the war memorial at Islandbridge?
Will the visit add momentum to a sense that remembrance of key events in Irish history, as we head towards a decade of commemoration, need to be pluralist and inclusive to an extent that will undermine the purist republican narrative Sinn Fein has traditionally favoured?
This is a question I want to come back to in greater detail. But listening to a lot of Northern Irish commentary over the last week, I suspect this is not merely a problem for Sinn Fein alone. It appears to spring from much more deeply embedded (and more widely held) tribal emotions in Northern nationalism than that of its southern cousins.
Of which, more anon…