A (qualified) welcome for QE II

A very quick word as my exams start tomorrow. I wanted to mark the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland this coming week. As Republicans many of us may take issue with an accident of birth conferring vast wealth and lifestyle upon a particular individual and family. Also as Irish Republicans we may take issue with the ongoing status of Northern Ireland as part of the ‘United Kingdom’. However in the spirit of ‘friendship amongst nations’, international diplomacy and old-fashioned good manners I believe it is only right to extend the hand of friendship to the head of state of our nearest neighbour. This is a mature reflection on the ‘grown up’ relationship between two countries  each of which holds its own separate and equal identity amongst the family of nations.

Notwithstanding all that, it remains my earnest belief that ‘unfinished business’ remains in the North of Ireland. In an ideal world constitutional arrangements to bring about unity and address the situation would be on the agenda for a visit of this kind. I accept of course the realpolitik is that these matters are more for Downing Street than Buckingham Palace at this point. A welcome for the Queen is the mature and right approach. Apart from even the politics of the event, the huge interest and goodwill towards the recent Royal Wedding recently highlighted the positivity that now exists between and across institutions on these islands.

In many ways I respect, even admire the British Empire. Ironically not so much now as when it was at the height of its colonial power. The expansion of its reach across the world. Its engineering and military accomplishments. The system of administration and governance it left in many corners. The system of the common law that is still in place today in most quarters of the English speaking world. Its characters/creations. No friends of Ireland of course, but still characters in their own right. Lord Denning. Lloyd George. Winston Churchill. Montgomery. Sherlock Holmes!

All this being so, it is my belief that there remains a fundamental difficulty with the continuance of partition on this island. This is not about the past but about the future.  As constitutional nationalists, it is fundamental that we accept consent and democratic will to be essential provisos to any progression. However we must continue to view the current constitutional position as merely a stepping stone on the road to eventual full unity in name, jurisdiction, territory and peoples. (A nation once again?) In such a scenario we may even all join with our (then) unionist fellow citizens in hanging out our bunting ..

8 Replies to “A (qualified) welcome for QE II”

  1. Daniel Sullivan

    “As Republicans many of us may take issue with an accident of birth conferring vast wealth and lifestyle upon a particular individual and family” err…I suspect you’re wrong there, James. Surely what republican object to is the fact that an accident of birth can conferring a position of political influence and indeed constitutional office. What you refer to is the simple inheritance of wealth that happens in all families up and down the country and had the republicans of the sort that your party said it was been opposed to that, it could have levied a higher rate of inheritance tax on estates over say €5/10 million. Which, whisper it, as a means of ensuring a more meritocratic society isn’t a very bad idea at all but it has nothing to do with the Queen or monarchies or republicanism.

    Best of luck with the exams.

  2. Peter Murphy

    No other country in the world would welcome the head of state of a country whose army’s occupying it’s territory. Imagine the French welcoming the English head of state of the British army occupied Brittany, not a chance this would happen.

    As for this forgive and forget nonsense I am amazed that Irish people are expected to adopt this position, no one would suggest the Jewish people forget the Holocoust.

    The British head of state should only be made welcome when Ireland is united.

    Thanks to the cowardice of Irish politicians we face the very real prospect of Ireland still been partitioned in 2016 and Scotland being independent .

    Peter Murphy

  3. James Lawless Post author

    Interesting point about the Scottish Peter. This will be their second independence referendum in thirty years whilst we’ve had none. Although Northern Ireland remained effectively a war zone up until the past decade, Scottish politics may have been a more ‘normalised’ political environment for such developments to occur.

    Whilst blatant sectarian discrimination has been brought to an end and the ‘peace dividend’ exists in the form of some FDI into NI I am not sure the unity project has been particularly advanced post GFA. My understanding is that both the GFA and St Andrews contain legislative devices to ‘unlock’ further constitutional reform so I would hope these can be progressed as relations further develop.

    I notice the campaign for the Dublin / Monaghan bombing victims had an open letter in today’s press calling for the Queen to release the relevant archives to allow the pursuit of justice. This ties in with what I said above about how there are still live issues and how in an ideal world these should be on the table during this visit. I would be surprised if they were but I think it would mark real progress if the discussions were mature enough to acknowledge outstanding issues remain even in the midst of the goodwill and reconciliation ceremonies.

    @Dan I’m not sure about your inheritance tax suggestion it sounds a little socialist for my liking. Although I acknowledge a possible contradiction in that view and my comments on the monarchy.

    Food for thought indeed.

  4. David W

    With regard to an “accident of birth conferring vast wealth and lifestyle upon a particular individual and family”, is there any distinction between your attitude to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of which she is the Head of State on the one hand, and the Aga Khan on the other? Do you welcome the fact that the latter has a stud farm in Co. Kildare? Do you welcome the fact that it provides local employment? Would you feel that the economy of Co. Kildare would be better served if there were fewer individuals conferred with significant wealth through accident of birth? How would you react if Queen Elizabeth expressed an interest in establishing a stud farm of her own near the Curragh? A bittersweet reaction, recognizing the benefit for the local economy, whilst regretting that this benefit derived from a British monarch? And does not the Aga Khan owe his vast wealth and lifestyle to his descent in a particular lineage from the Prophet Mohammad? Would you feel that these two wealthy people are more profligate than the Irish former super-rich, with their ostentatious pads around the K Club that now are not worth the millions spent on their purchase, and with their ludicrously expensive society weddings held on yachts in the Mediterranean? Did Seán Dunne and Seán Fitzgerald make better use of their money when they had it? Does the employment of (borrowed) money to take a punt on a Nigerian oil well truly benefit the Irish economy?

    Is there any essential difference between the functions of manifestations of royal privilege in Britain such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace on the one hand, and appropriate venues for national celebrations and for receptions of visiting heads of state, such as Áras an Úachtaráin, Dublin Castle and Farmleigh on the other? Considering the disparity of populations, isn’t the Republic of Ireland perhaps over-provided with such venues for the exercise of the usual functions of a Head of State? Though maybe not, as you need at least one presidential/royal palace if not two. The Queen truly owns two main homes as private houses purchased as such by her ancestors, namely Balmoral and Sandringham. Does possession of such properties place her in a diffferent league to other privately wealthy individuals? After all, facilities at Balmoral are said to be very cramped and somewhat primitive.

    Do you consider that those Irish citizens who were previously ‘high net worth individuals’ truly earned every cent of their reputed wealth, and that they deployed it almost always so as to benefit the local economy? Maybe Seán Quinn is an exceptional case, as it seems that he deployed his wealth to the benefit of the local economy in Cavan and Fermanagh before his gambling in Anglo-Irish shares. But given that Co. Kildare reputedly benefits from the interest that people attach to horse-racing, is it better that the benefit derive from ‘high net worth individuals’, irrespectively of the source of their wealth? Or would it be more appropriate if the inflow of money derived from comparatively less affluent people spending money they can ill afford in betting shops?

  5. David W

    I shouldn’t really be making long postings here at exam time.

    Much of what I have seen in commentary, on blogs and elsewhere, concerning the state visit seems truly puzzling. Why do posts begin so often by ‘taking issue with’ or citing ‘big problems’ with the fact that the head of state of a neighbouring state happens to be a monarch? The constitutional arrangements concerning the selection of the head of state of a democratic state are matters that should concern only the citizens of that state. For an Irish citizen, born, raised and resident in the Republic of Ireland to take issue with the circumstance that the foreign state nearby is a monarchy and not a republic makes as much sense to me as a principled objection to the fact that, in the neighbours’ house next door, the husband and not the wife washes the dishes after the evening meal.

  6. Mark Kearney

    Bizzarely Jim I was in favour of it. These things should be normalised.

    However I was wholly opposed to the visit to the Garden of Rememberance. That was a mockery in my book, and don’t get me started on the UDA in islandbridge.

    She should be invited back for the races at the Curragh during the summer.

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