Barack, the Queen and ‘Croker’
Deaglán de Bréadún
In now looks as if Barack Obama may be going to Croke Park, a few days after the visit by Queen Elizabeth. Fascinating: there is talk of having a mass rally in honour of the US President. That would feed into his re-election campaign in a very interesting way.
The British monarch’s visit to Croker will be a more modest affair. A large crowd would probably include some protesters and a certain amount of booing. Too risky from the point of view of the Palace, Áras, Merrion Street and Downing Street!
If she were to make some apologetic reference to the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1920, it could be the high point of her visit. But at the moment, it looks like the wreath-laying at the Garden of Remembrance will take the prize for significance.
Think of it: this is a memorial in honour of men and women who died for Irish freedom – many of them in arms at the time. It is certainly a sign of a new relationship that the British Crown is willing to pay respect to them.
Of course there are still issues arising out of the Northern Troubles. The left-republican group Éirigí were first to point out that the visit was starting on the anniversary of the horrific Dublin-Monaghan bombings of May 17th, 1974, in which 33 people died.
Sinn Fein followed with a statement along the same lines. The latter party is clearly anxious that the visit goes off without “aggro” whereas the Éirigí group wants “robust” protests. The by-play between the two will be interesting to watch: sounds like SF might be pushed into going for a full-blooded demo in the end, in order to protect “market-share”, but one that is carefully stewarded. SF in Cork has already announced plans for one.
It’s a little unclear where Éirigí stands in relation to the peace process. Their line is, in paraphrase, that the conditions don’t exist at present for “armed struggle” against the “forces of occupation”.
Logically, therefore, they would be opposed to the bomb that killed Constable Kerr and to the violent actions of the dissidents in general because, as Gerry Adams says about the Queen’s visit, they are “premature”.
Incidentally, I notice around the centre of Dublin that there are posters inviting youngsters to join Fianna Eireann, the traditional title of the youth wing of the IRA, but the activities mentioned make the organisation sound as harmless as the Boy Scouts. Advertising is a funny old business.
Quiz question: Find a date the Queen of England could arrive on that would not be the anniversary of a major incident in the British-Irish relationship.