McGuinness’ hero on royal visits…

JAMES Connolly is an undoubted hero of Martin McGuinness’ – the deputy First Minister even invoked him in a speech as as recently as last month. But I wonder if this icon of republicanism’s ‘patriot dead’ would have approved of McGuinness meeting the Queen? Here’s some of Connolly’s thoughts on a previous royal visitor to Ireland, King George V in 1911. Different rules for a different era?

Knowing from previous experience of Royal Visits, as well as from the Coronation orgies of the past few weeks, that the occasion will be utilised to make propaganda on behalf of royalty and aristocracy against the oncoming forces of democracy and National freedom, we desire to place before you some few reasons why you should unanimously refuse to countenance this visit, or to recognise it by your presence at its attendant processions or demonstrations.

Let the capitalist and landlord class flock to exalt him; he is theirs; in him they see embodied the idea of caste and class; they glorify him and exalt his importance that they might familiarise the public mind with the conception of political inequality, knowing well that a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain to that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom.

Fellow-workers, stand by the dignity of your class. All these parading royalties, all this insolent aristocracy, all these grovelling, dirt-eating capitalist traitors, all these are but signs of disease in any social state – diseases which a royal visit brings to a head and spews in all its nastiness before our horrified eyes.

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  • Mister_Joe

    Perhaps people do need circuses as well as bread.
    He might not have believed it or, more likely, did not want to believe it, but a large percentage of the working class would have aspired to better their lot and rise up the ranks.

  • dwatch

    Republicans from Crossmaglen don’t believe MM is a hero
    they believe “McGuinness a Judas, say ex-IRA men”

    MARTIN McGuinness is “a traitor” for meeting the Queen, a rally of republican hardliners in south Armagh was yesterday told. Ex-Provisional IRA founder Laurence O’Neill denounced Mr McGuinness as “a Judas” and said he should hang his head in shame for meeting the Queen while Northern Ireland remained under British rule.

    Read more:

  • Mick Fealty

    Extrapolating contemporary principle from a time that is both the same and very different to our own is a precarious business.

    Connolly’s world was one in which Teddy Roosevelt and King Edward (George V’s old da) would go off hunting together in the wilderness for four days, in which an unreformed Lords held real political power to thwart anything of which the Tory and the wider landed interest did not approve.

    Connolly’s politics was as much aligned with the English radical tradition as anything to do with the Irish revolution…

    In fact, Gonzo’s quotation puts me in mind of these declamatory lines from Byron’s Age of Bronze from a few generations previously:

    See these inglorious Cincinnati swarm,
    Farmers of war, dictators of the farm;
    Their ploughshare was the sword in hireling hands,
    Their fields manured by gore of other lands;
    Safe in their barns, these Sabine tillers sent
    Their brethen out to battle — why? for rent!
    Year after year they voted cent. per cent.,
    Blood, sweat, and tear-wrung millions — why? for rent!
    They roar’d, they dined, they drank, they swore they meant
    To die for England — why then live? — for rent!
    The peace has made one general malcontent
    Of these high-market patriots; war was rent!
    Their love of country, millions all misspent,
    How reconcile? by reconciling rent!
    And will they not repay the treasures lent?
    No: down with everything, and up with rent!
    Their good, ill, health, wealth, joy, or discontent,
    Being, end, aim, religion — rent, rent, rent!

    I often wonder what Connolly would have made of a lot of things that happened after his death.

    Beyond the social contract and Irish neutrality, I’m not sure that he would have approved of a great deal of what has passed in the last 100 years…

  • andnowwhat

    I’ve been “talking” to several SF members on a southern site and it is clear not not all, by any means, party groups were consulted about the meeting in the 26 counties and onloy had their meetings on the matter as late as this week. It hasn’t gone down well

  • keano10

    Anyone fancy doing a thread on McGuinness meeting the Queen?

    Sweet Jesus…

  • andnowwhat

    He is Keano?

    First I’ve heard off it 🙂

  • keano10
  • Almost on topic …

    Ten days ago I was in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, a very nice town with an equally nice secondhand bookshop.

    There, for the outrageous sum of £4, I acquired A Memoir on Ireland Native and Saxon, a first edition (if more than “slightly foxed”, though better than the version cited below) printed in Dublin in 1843.

    Ever since, I have been speculating whether that was the last instant in time when an Irish nationalist could dedicate a book humbly inscribed to Her Most Gracious Majesty THE QUEEN of Great Britain and OF IRELAND. Check out the relative sizes of types used.

    Then O’Connell (by our contemporary standards) had thoroughly disgraced himself in his enthusiasm for George IV’s eighteen day visit to Ireland in 1821. George was less enthused on meeting O’Connell, muttering “God damn him

  • tyrone_taggart

    “We had no personal feelings against the King and Queen of England and none of us would have raised a finger against their persons, they might have walked about Ireland forever if they had come as private persons, people would have treated them as visitors to whom a Gaelic courtesy was due. It was quite a different matter if they came as representatives of the country that enslaved us, for their coming in state was just as the jangling of chains in the face of each rebel.”
    Constance Markievicz, Larkin, the Fianna and the King’s Visit (June 1923).

    The question of Martin McGuinness meeting with the British Queen says more about the success of her visit to Ireland last year than it does about either of the two participants.

    I do not know if Princess Margaret (queens sister) had referred to the Irish as “pigs” but if she did it was understandable after Mountbatten.

    For me the event has more a pale reflection of:

    ‘I get down on my knees and do what must be done

    And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son’

    The Ghost Orchid, 1995 Michael Longley

  • Since we’re getting literary, I’d been rooting round the synapses for a half-memory. Mick Fealty @ 9:00 am and that O’Connell book I mentioned above finally made the connection.

    Do not pass Go. Do not collect your OBE. Go directly to Byron’s An Irish Avatar, all umpteen quatrains of it. The thing was dashed off in Ravenna, a month after Queen Caroline’s body was parcelled off for the ducal burial vault in St Blasius’ Cathedral, Braunschweig, and so at the peak of anti-George IV feeling. It’s so vicious even incorrigible Byron later regretted its crudity.

  • kungfukarl

    @Malcolm Redfellow, thank you for that link to O’Connell’s book – promptly downloaded and sent to the Kindle for later perusal.

    The preface however, did stand out

    ‘I HUMBLY inscribe the following Memoir to her
    most gracious Majesty the Queen ; not in the shape
    of a dedication, or with the presumptuous hope of
    my being able to produce any work of sufficient
    interest to occupy the Royal mind. Yet, there is
    nothing more desirable than that the Sovereign of
    these realms should understand the real nature of
    Irish history ; should be aware of how much the
    Irish have suffered from English misrule ; should
    comprehend the secret springs of Irish discontent;
    should be acquainted with the eminent virtues
    which the Irish nation have exhibited in every
    phase of their singular fate ; and, above all, should
    be intimately acquainted with the confiscations, the
    plunder, the robbery, the domestic treachery, the
    violation of all public faith and of the sanctity of
    treaties, the ordinary wholesale slaughters, the
    planned murders, the concerted massacres, which
    have been inflicted upon the Irish people by the
    English Govermnents.’

    Perhaps the inscription was slightly tongue in cheek? 🙂

  • SDLP supporter

    In these situations WB Yeats is your only man. With apologies, and one word changed:

    Was it for this the wild geese spread
    The grey wing upon every tide;
    For this that all that blood was shed,
    For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
    And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
    All that delirium of the brave?
    Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
    It’s with McGuinness in the grave.

  • SDLP @ 1:19 pm:

    I defer to nobody in my admiration for Willie Blue-Shirt’s poetic genius. However, we do not need to alter even one word from Luke Kelly:

    To whom do we owe our allegiance today?
    To whom do we owe our allegiance today?
    To those brave men who fought and died that Róisín live again with pride?
    Her sons at home to work and sing
    Her youth to dance and make her valleys ring
    Or the faceless men who for Mark and Dollar
    Betray her to the highest bidder
    To whom do we owe our allegiance today?

    The other three stanzas are more adjacent to the topic here.