Any activity that Sinn Fein organises to mark the British royal visit next month will not involve picketing of events and no “confrontation for the sake of it”, the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
Ms McDonald added: “People are entitled to welcome the Queen of England, people are equally open to protest but the one common thing has to be that this has to be dignified, democratic and non-confrontational.”
Speaking to reporters at the Dublin parliament, Ms McDonald said there was nothing of a “personal” nature about Sinn Fein’s objections to the visit.
“This isn’t personal: I am conscious of the fact that it is an elderly couple visiting the country.
“On a human level, of course, nobody wishes to be unnecessarily confrontational for the sake of it, but state visits are political, there’s politics in this and the politics of this is: putting the cart before the horse. We’re not there yet and it’s premature.”
She said she wanted to stress that “nobody should use this occasion as an excuse for any type of aggression on the streets or confrontation with anybody”.
Asked what type of activity Sinn Fein would be organising at the time of the visit, which takes place between May 17th and 20th, Ms McDonald said: “We haven’t finalised the details on it. I don’t think it will be a march.”
Nor would Sinn Fein be picketing any of the locations in the programme for the royal visit.
She pointed out that, at the time of the last similar British royal visit in 1911, a picnic was organised by Countess Markiewicz and others.
“It would be entirely inappropriate for anybody to use the occasion of this visit for any kind of confrontation for the sake of it,” she said.
“We may do a public meeting, we may do a concert, we may do a number of different things, what we will not be doing is picketing events where the Queen of England will be, that’s not our intention.”
She insisted Sinn Fein elected representatives would not be meeting Windsor or taking part in any functions on the programme for the visit.
The difference between a visit by Windsor as distinct from the British prime minister was that “she is head of the armed forces and that has particular significance in terms of what happened in Ireland, in Derry, in Ballymurphy and in Dublin and Monaghan”.
She said the timing of the royal visit to Ireland, on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, was “particularly insensitive”.
“It is widely believed that this attack, involving the greatest loss of life of any incident in the conflict, was carried out with the involvement of British intelligence.
Ms McDonald declined to comment on Windsor’s attendance at Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletics Association and scene of a cold-blooded British mass slaughter during the War of Independence.
“The GAA makes the decisions for the GAA, that’s entirely proper,” she said.
A GUILLOTINE ON THE PAST
Meanwhile, eirigi have announced the details of their latest protest against that same visit.
The protest, which is set to take place at 1pm on Saturday April 16th at the GPO in Dublin, will feature a piece of street theatre which will involve a French revolution-style guillotine.
Speaking in advance of the protest, cathaoirleach [chairperson] of eirigi Brian Leeson said: “We have deliberately chosen the guillotine to make a very serious political point. It is closely associated with the French revolution, when the people of that country threw off the chains of monarchy in favour of freedom and republicanism based on equality, liberty and fraternity. And that was over two hundred years ago.
“Yet here we are two centuries later and our people are still expected to bend the knee to a woman who was born into her role as head of the British state and commander-in-chief of the British military - a state and a military which continue to occupy the Six Counties.
“The mock guillotining of Elizabeth Windsor symbolises that which needs to happen to all of those political and economic systems which are based upon inherited privilege, imperialism and class. The time of monarchy, imperialism and exploitation is well and truly past. Nothing makes that point quite as clearly as the guillotine.”
He said it was clear that many, many people across Ireland are opposed to this visit.
“Now is the time for those people to come onto the streets and make it clear that if this visit goes ahead it will be met by widespread protest and defiance,” he said.