More than 8,000 Irish police and 2,000 troops were deployed in the biggest security operation in the Irish Republic’s history when the Queen of England became the first British monarch to visit southern Ireland in May since King George V in 1911, one hundred years ago. A team of 120 Scotland Yard royal protection officers also accompanied her. The security operation was expected to cost the Irish taxpayer upwards of €30 million euro, an unwelcome additional burden to a county already struggling to pay back billions of euros worth of debt to the EU and IMF.
The Queen laid a wreath in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, which honours those who died fighting to free Ireland. However, she only laid a wreath in memory to those Irish men who died fighting for the British Army in World War I. She also visited Croke Park stadium. In 1920, British Army went there and killed 14 at a Gaelic football match.
The visit caused further controversy after it emerged that leading members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a pro-British paramilitary death squad organized by the secret services of the British state (FRUS), which is currently listed as a terrorist group, was officially invited to take part in the ceremony. The gang, which carried out a terrorist campaign from 1971 until 2007, was responsible for the deaths of 260 people, almost all of whom were civilians. It has also been involved in serious criminal activity including drug-dealing. In a report which was issued last March, the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the terrorist group was still involved in illegal activity.
At the time of independence, the British partitioned Ireland, retaining control over the north east of Ireland, or the six counties, for almost ninety years.
We are publishing a commentary from Workers’ Weekly on the “visit” and the issues involved.
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Actions speak louder than words
Workers’ Weekly editorial comment
IT IS ALL very well for the Queen in Dublin to make tacit acknowledgement of Britain’s past atrocities against the Irish people and to pay respects to the Irish patriots who gave their lives in the fight for freedom from British rule. But her words ring quite disgustingly hollow at a time when the government of which she is the titular head pursues a policy of armed aggression against sovereign peoples and countries, of assassination and plunder, every bit as barbaric as the worst excesses of its colonial past.
As Sinn Fein have rightly pointed out, the visit was premature and particularly offensive given that it occurred on the very anniversary of the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings which claimed the lives of 33 Irish civilians and bore all the hallmarks of Britain’s undercover agencies. That it was premature, and pushed through for reasons other than celebrating relations between two peoples so closely intertwined over centuries, not least in the struggle against a common enemy, was brought home by the bizarre spectacle of the Queen’s entourage passing through completely empty streets lined only with police.
Certainly, any development of good neighbourly relations between the two countries is to be welcomed. But full free and equal relations between sovereign countries are clearly still a long way off when one continues to occupy an essential part of the other. If Britain does acknowledge the right of the “people of the island of Ireland“ to decide their own future, as former Prime Minister John Major did now more than a decade ago, why does not the British government carry this declaration to its logical conclusion and withdraw all claims to the six counties of Ulster ?
The British working class and all progressive people cannot and will not be “reconciled“, a word much bandied around during the visit, to anything less than full free and equal relations, following the reunification of Ireland by its own people, between sovereign states of the four nations of our islands.
Workers’ Weekly E-Mail Edition Volume 41, Number 17 May 21 2011
Weekly On Line Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
“25/90 & An Ghaeilge: Honouring Bobby Sands and James Connolly,” A Reflection by Tony Seed, Mac-Talla, annual Gaelic supplement of Shunpiking Magazine, May 2006