It is right that British royals won’t be at 1916 events
‘The invitation to foreign heads of state is problematic’
‘We have done our reconciling. Queen Elizabeth II’s presence at the Garden of Remembrance four years ago was a powerful symbol and a tacit acknowledgement by the British sovereign that perhaps those Irishmen and women who refused to accept the inevitability of British rule in Ireland had a point.’ Above, Queen Elizabeth with then president Mary McAlleese in the Garden of Remembrance. Photograph: Maxwell’s Dublin
The Government would appear to have made its mind up that the British royal family will not be invited to the Easter Rising commemorations next year. On balance it has made the right decision.
A royal presence would be an unnecessary distraction and a potential security risk. Ideally this would not be the case, but we live in a world where there is still a tiny minority bent on making trouble when a member of the British royal family visits Ireland.
Last summer a mob of hard-line Republicans shouted down President Michael D Higgins when he unveiled the Cross of Sacrifice at Glasnevin Cemetery. They hurled abuse at the Duke of Kent. The Easter Rising is our most important commemoration. We do not need a repeat of that kind of behaviour.
If the Government, as is likely, does not invite the royal family, it will deny the mob a day out. This is good enough reason in itself to carry out our commemorations without them.
The invitation to foreign heads of state is problematic not just because of the royal family. If we invite the Windsors, should we not also invite the German President Joachim Gauck from our “gallant allies in Europe” who did so much to foment the Rising and also arm the Ulster Volunteers?
Last August, to mark the centenary of the first World War, the German President and his French counterpart François Hollande stood together at the Hartmannswillerkopf in the Vosges Mountain and embraced each other.
The two destructive world wars caused millions of deaths on both sides, the Germans being the aggressor on both occasions.
There are many who ask, legitimately, if the French and Germans can be so publicly reconciled, why can we not do the same with the British for the Easter Rising centenary?
But the Easter Rising commemorations are not about our relationship with Britain. We have done our reconciling. Queen Elizabeth II’s presence at the Garden of Remembrance four years ago was a powerful symbol and a tacit acknowledgement by the British sovereign that perhaps those Irishmen and women who refused to accept the inevitability of British rule in Ireland had a point.
We also had the successful State visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain last year. Relations between Ireland and Britain are better than good. They are normal. In such circumstances, we do not need another round of fuzzy words between official Ireland and its British counterpart.
The Easter Rising commemorations should be about us as a people. Now that we have the Republic, what have we done with it?
The fierce denunciation of the Ireland Inspires video, which was withdrawn from the official website, has demonstrated that the Irish people have no interest in the Easter Rising centenary being an exercise in self-congratulation.
The Government made a sensible decision in not allowing the Easter Rising commemoration to be a commercial opportunity either.
The Easter Rising was a tragedy. Some 440 people died. That must never be forgotten.
Neither should it be an exercise in self-flagellation. We have done enough of that over the last six or seven years.
What do you think? Should the royal family attend the Easter Rising commemorations?