Cartoon – A ‘black spider’ memo for OFMDFM on Justice

Tuesday May 24 had a busy afternoon. Sinn Fein announced its executive team. Prince Charles, known for his letter writing, visited Portadown and the Orange Museum as part of #RoyalVisitNI. Then news broke that the loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson  had written a letter to OFMDFM suggesting he be considered for the position of Justice Minister. Like the Justice portfolio, a question mark stands over who will be heir to the British Crown; perhaps that is another position for the loyalist blogger to consider? Brian SpencerBrian … Read more

Why spoil two parties by rowing about a royal invitation in 1916 that doesn’t exist?

There is a very peculiar little controversy going on in Dublin over inviting the “royals “ to 1916 commemorations. It involves catty exchanges between Maurice Manning, NUI chancellor, one of several former nearly men in Irish politics  and a part time historian, and the equally learned professional modern historian Diarmaid Ferriter.  In his latest  blast in the Irish Times, Ferriter opposes the idea which the newspaper itself seems to approve.  It would be too much to say that this is a re-run of the … Read more

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 … Read more

Royals and magic bullets: it’s still about the stupid economy.

As gesture politics go, I actually thought last week’s state visit seemed oddly empty. I know we were being constantly told how to read the importance of the symbolism, yet the footage of Queen Elizabeth attending various events largely lacked the sense of a departure from history that came with the likes of Bill Clinton’s 1995 visit to Belfast. Personally, as a benchmark, the Clinton visit had a historical feel that far outweighed the parts, which are godawful when you … Read more

Queen’s visit: Affirmation of Irish independence (and Constitution)…

I’ve a piece in today’s Guardian on the visit of the Queen to Dublin, which began yesterday. At the heart of the matter, I argue that yes, it is historic, and yes it may be cathartic. But I also that by and large, despite some deft handling and framing of the event by Belfast born President, Mary McAleese, this visit is very much for the benefit of the Irish people of the 26 counties, rather than those of us living in … Read more

An encomium to the British (Welfare State)…

And who better to deliver it on the day that’s in it than Fintan O’Toole… If, in the period between 1945 and 1979, you wanted to understand the difference between ideology and human realities, the question to ask was: what’s the difference between England and Ireland? In the realm of rhetoric and abstraction, the answer was to be found in endless discourses about history, religion, victimhood and oppression, the Empire and the Four Green Fields. But for those who grew … Read more

“No intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war”

On Wednesday evening Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s Head of State, will making her only speech of her four day visit at the State Dinner. It’s this that is likely to be the political fulcrum of the whole visit, and upon which many Irish nationalists north and south will be expecting to hear important messages, not least about the past. But Kevin Myers has an interesting fly to foist into the ointment, as he reflects on the asymetrical memories of … Read more

“The first king of England to visit us was Henry II in 1171…”

With Elizabeth II reportedly on her way, in the Irish Times Denis Fahey provides a short history of royal visits, beginning in 1171 with Henry II.  And he notes a speech by George V in Belfast, 1921. King George VI visited Northern Ireland on a number of occasions, and Queen Elizabeth has been there frequently, but the most significant visit of a British royal in the last century was probably the one made by George V in June 1921, when … Read more

Fianna Fail Cumman raffling tickets to meet the Queen…

So Brian Cowan has finally announced the Queens trip is definitely on.  It’s been something of an open secret around Leinster House since last February, and Fianna Fail at large it seems. (Just when was he planning to tell the rest of us?) For a good example of how far down the list briefing the press comes, see this little fundraiser for the local Newtownshandrum Junior B Hurling Team 2010 posted on Facebook in the last few days: With the … Read more