So there. It’s done. Not one handshake, but two. And a wee sit down and coffee, just the four of them (HMQ, HRH, FM and dFM). Interesting that after a very long vacillation within the party, Martin felt emboldened to observe that it would have been cowardly not to have the photo taken in public.
A little too much of the customary ‘over processing’ in the Movement’s ‘big house’, perhaps?
Apparently when the Belleek pottery basket was awarded on behalf of the Assembly Martin hung back as if to say, “I’m not really there as deputy FM, you know.”
What does it mean? Especially if Martin didn’t really mean it in the constitutional way that many will happily interpret it. Well there is such a thing as the noble lie. [Is there not also an innoble one? – Ed]. Certainly was hard to argue with Anthony McIntyre when he wrote yesterday:
Tomorrow’s event will be dressed up in the discourse of the peace process, which invariably serves to mask the truth. Despite much discursive massaging, the matter has little if anything to do with reaching out to unionists.
If Sinn Féin and McGuinness were really concerned with embracing unionist sensitivity they would stop denying that the IRA carried out the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, an act on an ethical par with Derry’s Bloody Sunday in 1972.
The strategic thinking behind tomorrow’s meeting is consistent with Sinn Féin’s expansionist strategy in the south of Ireland. Its electoral ambitions, not reconciliation with unionism, are what fuels McGuinness’s meeting the Queen.
However, having scorned the opportunity during the royal visit to Ireland last year, Sinn Féin’s transparently crass manipulation of tomorrow’s event may end up alienating more votes than it attracts.
Well, I’ve yet to hear one unionist say it is something they have ever looked for, or have been impressed by the act. There is also no evidence that there’s a whole bunch of SF MLAs queuing up to follow him.
There is more evidence that he needed to make good on his on-the-stump promise that he would accept the Queen on Irish soil if ever elected President. If necessity was ever the mother of invention it was surely this.
That’s not to say the event has been devoid of value. Martin may have done what he had to do for the cause, but as one caller to Nolan said this morning his action in meeting the Queen has taken a lot of fear for Catholics out of their relations and feelings for the Queen and the Royal Family.
Fear it took the IRA a very long time to instill within the local populus. But where does the bulk of nationalist sentiment lie? Standing on the mountain with the mythical Queen Eriu, or with the not quite yet constitutionally correct McGuinness?
And, the midst of it all, not a word of the poor old SDLP…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty