Ireland: Royal visit plan draws protests

Issue 
Ogra Shinn Fein poster protesting the planned royal visit. Image: Osf.ie

The proposal for a visit to the 26 Irish counties that make up the southern state by the British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, has drawn condemnation from Irish republicans.

Irish Taoiseach (head of government) Brian Cowan announced in June plans for a royal visit, believed to be for sometime in 2011. It would be the first visit by the British head of state to the southern Irish state since it was founded in 1921.

The July 7 Irish Post reported Martin Ferris, Irish republican Sinn Fein Teachta Dala (member of the Irish parliament, the dail) for Kerry, said: “I think [the plan] is very insensitive, coming as it is just a week after the Saville Inquiry exposed the murder of 14 people in Derry [in 1972] by British paratroopers.”

Republicans are opposed to such a visit not just because of Britain’s centuries-long violent oppression of Ireland, but because it continues to occupy six counties in Ireland’s north.

Sinn Fein’s youth organisation, Ogra Shinn Fein, said in a June 29 post at Ograshinnfein.blogspot.com that it intended “to oppose, and to protest against, the visit of Elizabeth Windsor to Ireland if a proposed ‘royal visit’ goes ahead.”

Ogra Shinn Fein national organiser Donncahdh o Laoghaire said media outlets were trying to “legitimise this visit in the context of ‘normal diplomatic relationships’ ... How normal is the British occupation of the six counties?

“Ogra opposes all she represents. She is the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, which remains a force of occupation and imperialism in numerous places across the World.

“She is head of state by dint of her birth, occupies a position no Catholic or ‘commoner’ can occupy ... How can any republican do anything other than to oppose the existence of such an absurd institution, much less its right to be received with a gracious welcome while her forces occupy part of Ireland?

“Until there is complete withdrawal of the British military and the British administration from Ireland, and until there is justice and truth for victims of collusion, no official welcome should be accorded to any officer of the British armed forces of any rank.”

On July 5, 80 people protested outside Dublin’s City Hall against the planned visit, Eirigi.org said the next day. The protest was organised by socialist republican group eirigi in support of a motion moved by eirigi city councillor Louise Minihan that called on the government to abandon the planned visit.

The protest was joined by other councillors, including members of the People Before Profit Alliance and Sinn Fein.

Roisin Conlon from Firinne, which represents and campaigns on behalf of the victims of British state violence, said in the absence of Britain acknowledging “its brutal and oppressive role as major protagonists throughout the last 40 years” no British state visit to the 26 counties should take place, Eirigi.org said.

Eirigi’s Ursula Ni Shionnain read out a symbolic list of 30 names, representing the many hundreds of victims of British state violence in Ireland.

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