Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has warned against protests turning violent when Elizabeth Windsor, the professed ‘Queen of England’, is brought to the 26 Counties later this year.
Sinn Fein’s Ard Chomhairle (high council) is to meet on Saturday to decide the party’s stance on the royal visit to the south, widely expected to take place in May.
However, other republican groups have already been mounting protests, with Republican Sinn Fein calling for people to “mobilise” in opposition, and eirigi launching a campaign to highlight her role as the commander in chief of the British Army.
“I respect the right of anybody to protest -- that’s what happens In a democracy,” said Mr McGuinness.
“But I do warn all of those groups that there is a mighty responsibility to conduct any protests peacefully because anything other than peaceful protest would be an insult to one of the best presidents we have ever seen,” he said, referring to Irish President Mary McAleese.
Asked if he would ever envisage a time when he would meet a member of the British royal family, the former IRA commander said there was “big discussion and debate” around the Windsor visit.
“Obviously Sinn Fein’s Ard Chomhairle meeting over the course of the weekend will decide our stance,” he said.
He said the fact the party was discussing how to deal with the impending visit showed that they were “living in different times”.
éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has said that the royals’ visit would be “actively and vigorously opposed” by the socialist republican party.
The party has organised a demonstration at the British Embassy next Saturday [March 12].
Leeson said: “The architects of this visit have made a political blunder of the highest order. If they think that Elizabeth Windsor can be paraded around the Twenty-Six Counties with no mention being made of the ongoing occupation of the North they are gravely mistaken.
“This woman is the commander in chief of Britain’s armed forces, the same armed forces that have committed massacre and murder across Ireland and the same armed forces that continue to commit massacre and murder in Afghanistan.
“It is also astounding that, at a time when the Twenty-Six County state is effectively bankrupt, the political establishment is going to waste vast amounts of money on what amounts to a propaganda coup for the British occupation.”
Republican Sinn Féin said it would “actively oppose” the visit “in order to send out a clear message to the world that British rule in Ireland is neither normal nor acceptable.
“We are calling on all Republican-minded people throughout Ireland and abroad to mobilise now in opposition to this visit.
“The announcement of the visit by the head of the British State marks the culmination of a carefully orchestrated campaign by the political establishments in Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster to normalise the partition and continued British occupation of Ireland...
“We are calling all who believe in Ireland’s inalienable right to nationhood to come out and join the protests.”