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Daily View: The Queen's visit to Ireland

Clare Spencer | 11:35 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Commentators discuss the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland. She is the first British monarch to visit since it became a republic.

In the Telegraph, Mary Kenny calls the visit an “extraordinary moment of reconciliation”:

“Because the relationship between Ireland and the British monarchy is so underpinned by all the psychological complexities of love-hate, attitudes to a visiting monarch have often been inconsistent. When Queen Victoria's first visit to Ireland was announced in 1849, Irish nationalists made two contradictory complaints: one was that they disliked the Queen of England, and the second was, why hadn't she visited Ireland sooner? Throughout the centuries this dualism is evident in many Irish texts: rebellion against what was sometimes called, in Irish ballads, "Mother England", and at the same time, the laments of the neglected child that the parent has ignored his plight, or abandoned care.
 
“And many such laments were justified. The black-and-white version of Anglo-Irish history - Britain the Oppressor, Ireland the Victim - can be parodic and even exasperating. But many Englishmen today do feel a certain degree of guilt about Britain's (mainly England's) historic treatment of Ireland.”

Susie Rushton says in the Independent, that state visits are “just not worth the bother”:

“Peaceful protests are planned but security forces aren't taking any chances, so the monarch will travel in a mile-long convoy. Dublin is reportedly "in lockdown", and only a hand-picked few will get anywhere near the Queen. The Irish could be forgiven for wondering whether a million-pound anti-terrorist operation is really what their financially ailing state should be paying for right now.
 
“We are told that state visits by foreign leaders are a cause for great excitement. In fact, these visits really only involve senior politicians, their protection officers - and thousands of police. Not much TV footage is ever recorded - the odd speech, a brief moment of greeting - and most of the action happens behind closed palace doors. It is a court occasion, in the old-fashioned sense. The Irish tourist board is thrilled but will citizens here and in Ireland really be a-buzz at this festival of photo ops?”

In the Irish Independent Martina Devlin says that the Queen has had a polarising effect not only “in the community”, but specifically in her family:

“My mother, a southerner, was fascinated by the queen; in her eyes, she had all the allure of Hollywood, with the mystique of majesty for good measure. My father, a northerner, regarded the queen as a symbol of Britain's ongoing occupation of Ireland.
 
“He had nothing against her personally - in fact, he allowed that she was a sound judge of horseflesh - but she was the figurehead of an establishment which reduced him to a second-class citizen in his own country.”

The Irish examiner’s editorial urges against any protests during the visit:

“Irrespective of anybody’s feelings about the monarchy we should respect the choice of the British people to retain their own symbols of governance, just as we expect others to respect the form we have chosen. Nobody is suggesting that the queen’s visit means that we should change our system. Surely we have the confidence and maturity to appreciate this. Any suggestion to the contrary is not just an insult to the British queen, but an insult to the Irish people.”

In the Times Roy Hattersley says that even though he is an anti monarchist he applauds the Queen’s visit:

“She is going there as a living proclamation that goodwill has broken out. There would be no visit if old wounds were not beginning to heal. Bloody Sunday and Omagh may be neither forgotten nor forgiven, but like the other atrocities - on both sides of the border - they are passing into history along with the potato famine and the Battle of the Boyne. The usually irritating flummery of a royal visit is an ideal way to show that Britain wants to look forward, not back.
 
“Republicans like me need to remember that our objection is to the principle of monarchy, not what monarchs - and their families - do. For, sometimes, they do rather well.”

The Irish Times' editorial says the visit shows a degree of normal relations between neighbours:

“It took many decades and a great deal of pain for the relationship to be placed on the footing of equality and respect that is essential to true friendship. No one is seeking to forget that struggle and the Queen’s visit to the Garden of Remembrance is a poignant recognition on the British side of its legitimacy. Just as Ireland has had to rid itself of knee-jerk anti-Britishness, Britain has had to drop its deeply ingrained habit of superiority.”

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