For months the political, business and media establishment have told us that the Windsor visit would result in all sorts of benefits and positive changes for this state. So now as she has finally left our shores, what are all these benefits and what exactly has changed as a result of this visit? Have there been any positive political developments? Has there been any change in the relationship between the peoples of Britain and Ireland?
According to Kathy Sheridan writing in the Irish Times on Wednesday [May 18] - “All is changed, changed utterly”. The reality however is completely different. Look beyond the media hype and spin and it is clear that nothing has changed at all.
As the Windsors departed our shores on Friday [May 20] their government continue to deny the Irish people the right to self-determination. Just one hundred miles up the road from our capital city, 5000 British troops continue to occupy the Six Counties. The 9000 strong human rights abusing British paramilitary police - the PSNI - and the hundreds of MI5 operatives who enforce the occupation remain in place also.
The PSNI continue to engage in a systematic campaign of harassment and intimidation against those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland. They continue to carry out house-raids and terrorise nationalist estates as well as engaging in illegal stop and search operations which violate human rights legislation.
The internment of republican ex-POWs has also been stepped up, with Marian Price last week being the latest to be jailed without trial at the behest of the British government. The denial of political status for republican prisoners, their ill-treatment and torture and miscarriages of justice all continue unabated.
Have the families of the victims of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, the anniversary of which was the very day Windsor arrived in Dublin, received a commitment that the British government will open their secret files on their role in the atrocities? Once more the answer is no as Britain rules out doing so, denying justice yet again to the families. Yet not a single whimper of protest from the sorry excuse for leaders of this so-called ‘republic’ who were too busy bowing and scraping before the ‘British Royals’ to stand up for the people they claim to govern on behalf of.
As for the relationship between the people of Ireland and Britain, nothing has changed there either.
Why not? Put simply this visit was never about them. This was about a select wealthy political and business elite who care nothing for the working class people of either Ireland or Britain. It was about ‘normalising’, not relations between Irish and British people, but rather the continued military and political occupation of the Six Counties.
Over recent months the establishment went into overdrive promoting this visit and trying to downplay and silence opposition to it. However, even more shameful was the unquestioning sycophantic role played by the corporate media over this visit. We have been treated to months and months of meaningless platitudes such as “it’s time to move on”, “leave the past behind us”, “forgive and forget” and the extreme nonsense that somehow welcoming an undemocratic, sectarian, head of an occupying army is somehow us as a nation ‘maturing’.
In a prime example of how overwhelmingly pro-establishment, compliant and gutless the corporate media in this state is, they ensured that there was absolutely no critical analysis of these platitudes and bogus assertions. There was virtually no questioning of the basis of any of those claims regardless of how ludicrous they were. Instead they merely produced article after article, opinion piece after opinion piece, parroting the ‘consensus’ of how great the English Monarch is and how great this visit would be for all of us. And as for anyone who had the cheek to question this consensus, the corporate media spared no effort in their attempts to portray them as somehow being political dinosaurs filled with hate and bitterness.
So it would have been hard to imagine that Irish corporate media coverage of the actual visit itself could be any more cringe-worthy. However, to be fair to them, they made a sterling effort and succeeded to produce four days of vomit-inducing commentary that ignored the opposition to it and ignored the plight of Dublin residents suffering under the massive security operation and lock-down. They also deliberately ignored the co-ordinated and illegal actions of the Gardai in attempting to prevent legitimate peaceful protest.
None dared break the consensus and report on Gardai stealing posters and banners or throwing the national flag in rubbish bins and refuse trucks as they effectively banned it from the capital city of this state. There was no questioning as to whether the tens of millions of Euros spent on this visit would have been better spent elsewhere, such as in our hospitals and schools or for Special Needs Assistants and Carers or to assist the families of victims of British atrocities.
They did not dare direct their “move forward” comments towards Windsor and her government. Surely it would have been appropriate to ask that in order to ‘move forward’ and ‘put the past behind us’ that the British finally end their occupation of the Six Counties? Surely they could have asked them that if they were genuine in wanting improved relations between Ireland and Britain, that they open up their secret files on their involvement in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and other atrocities they committed in collusion with the unionist death squads, whose leaders were her special guests at Islandbridge on Wednesday.
But no, silence on these issues was the consensus. No mention of the fact that these troops of hers continue to commit atrocities around the world. Indeed within hours of Windsor departing from Ireland, hundreds of her notorious Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldiers marched through Ballymena after completing their latest stint in their brutal occupation of Afghanistan.
No mention of the fact that she is a war crimes apologist. No mention of the fact that she continues to refuse to strip from the Paratroopers responsible for the Bloody Sunday massacre the honours that she awarded those murderers.
Instead we heard a narrative of a little old lady and her husband over for a few quiet days in Ireland to promote peace and goodwill. And no ‘journalist’ dared ask the obvious question - what exactly is it about this anti-democratic, sectarian, war crimes apologist who lives a life of privilege, that has the leaders of this so-called ‘republic’ in the Twenty-Six Counties almost wetting themselves with excitement at the prospect of being in her company and fawning over her?
The one sure thing that could be said about the Irish corporate media’s coverage was that it could not be described, no matter how broad a definition used, as ‘journalism’. Those that produced such biased, unquestioning and sycophantic reports in this propaganda blitz should hang their heads in shame. It has exposed yet again a complete lack of any credible mainstream media outlet willing to critically examine or question the political establishment line.