Welcome for queen age-old issue

 

Times have changed, changed utterly, as the country prepares to welcome Queen Elizabeth II, the first reigning British monarch to visit Ireland since the foundation of the State.

But will her majesty become the queen of Irish hearts? The word on the street suggests although Ireland’s younger generations view the visit as a symbol of partnership, many who lived through the country’s darker days remain unconvinced – particularly in relation to the choice of hosting venues.

“Conflicts are still unsolved. When they are rectified we can welcome her and give her a cup of tea, but she is not welcome at the moment” said Tom Redmond (73) from Walkinstown.

“To quote Gerry Adams, I think the timing is particularly insensitive,” was the response of community worker Shay Courtney (63) from Rathfarnham.

“I don’t have a problem with her visiting, but I don’t agree with her invitation to Croke Park. They are the grounds of an historical Irish massacre, and the queen should respect that,” said Margaret Byrne (59), from Donnybrook.

Similar sentiments were expressed by business owner Peter Dignan (56) of Lucan, Co Dublin, who said: “I’m not bothered by the queen’s visit, but everyone has a memory of what took place in Croker.”

“I think there is still an awful lot of tension in the public,” said Aideen Griffin (29) Dublin, adding: “Organisers need to be very careful . . . there are still a lot of crazies out there.”

Tom Redmond (73), of Walkinstown, Dublin 12, criticised the choice of another venue for the royal visit. “It’s also hypocritical of the queen to visit the Garden Of Remembrance on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; everybody in this town has a story of a relative who was killed or nearly killed when the British birds descended on Dublin."

On the other hand, younger generations were very optimistic about the political and historical resonance of the visit.

“I think it’s great for her to come over here, it will help Irish tourism and send out a positive message to the rest of the world,” said student Oscar Noonan (20), of Ramelton, Co Donegal. “As an English girl living in Ireland, I don’t think there is any genuine animosity anymore,” added Trinity student Olivia Moloney (18), from Birmingham.

“I think we have to bury the past and look forward. If we can welcome the English rugby team to Croke Park then we can also welcome the queen,” said civil servant Sean Murphy (49) from Navan.

“She’s very welcome,” declared Rose Higgins (45) from Galway. “What happened 50, 60, 70 years ago shouldn’t matter today,” she said. It’s a sign of progression,” agreed Madeline Fadden (51) from Clondalkin.

As the public continues to debate the arrival of the queen, Shay Courtney, whose father fought in the War of Independence, expects she will attract audiences of a certain generation. “I think the young people see the queen’s visit in simplistic terms, but we remember the history and that makes it very difficult for us to understand why she was invited,” he said.