This article, Ireland and Britain -- Towards a new relationship, by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams first appeared in the Irish Examiner on Saturday, May 14th.
The visit of the Queen of England has been the subject of considerable political and media focus. However, the occasion of this visit merits a much fuller discussion about how Ireland and Britain, in the wake of the recent seismic political changes, can build a better, more beneficial relationship for the peoples of both our islands.
The cliches that this first ever visit to the state by a serving British monarch somehow indicates that Irish people “have matured” or “finally grown up” are deeply patronising and insulting. I have nothing against the Queen of England being the Queen of England. That is a matter for the people of England. But it is not the way I want Irish society to be organised.
I am a republican. I believe that the people are sovereign and not subjects. I am against monarchies.
I am also Irish. And while I am conscious of the sense of affinity which unionists have with the English monarch, I am offended at having to live in a partitioned Ireland with the Queen of England ruling over a part of us.
I believe the visit of the English Queen is troubling for many Irish citizens, particularly victims of British rule and those with legacy issues in this state and in the North. I am for a new relationship between the people of Ireland and between the people of Ireland and Britain based on equality and mutual respect.
I hope this visit will hasten that day but much will depend on what the British monarch says. As an Irish citizen who was detained without charge or trial a number of times on a British prison ship, in a prison camp and a H Block, as well as a more conventional prison, at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, I hope so.
So too will many of the families of victims in the conflict, including victims of British terrorism and collusion. This includes families of those killed in the Dublin Monaghan bombs whose anniversary takes place on the first day of the visit. British interference in Irish affairs has come at a huge cost to the Irish people. It has been marked by invasion, occupation, subjugation, famine and cycles of Irish resistance and British repression.
The impact of this, including partition and its consequences, are still being felt to this day. Irish republicans too have caused much hurt to people in Britain. I regret this.
The full normalisation of relationships between Ireland and Britain is important. This will require the ending of partition and the emergence of a New Ireland.
The Peace Process, which Sinn Fein has contributed significantly to, has transformed the political landscape in Ireland and resulted in a peaceful political dispensation based on an historic accord between Irish nationalism and unionism. The Good Friday Agreement is the foundation upon which new relationships between unionists and nationalists and between Ireland and Britain can be forged. It has fundamentally altered the political landscape, levelled the political playing field, removing the despicable Government of Ireland Act and opening up a peaceful, democratic route to a united Ireland.
And because nationalists and unionists are governing the north decisions affecting the lives of people there are being increasingly made in Ireland and not in Britain. Republicans want to continue and to accelerate this process.
The united Ireland that republicans seek to build encompasses all the people of this island, including unionists. It will be a pluralist, egalitarian society in which citizens rights are protected and in which everyone will be treated equally. Sinn Fein wants a New Republic. That of course is a matter for the people of this island to decide.
But no matter how we shape our society, the new Ireland must embrace our islands diversity in its fullest sense. This includes English and Scottish influences, the sense of Britishness felt by many unionists, as well as indigenous and traditional Irish culture and the cultures of people who have come to Ireland in recent times.
Ireland and England are not strangers to each other. We should build on what we have in common while at the same time respecting each other’s sovereignty and independence. I want to see a real and meaningfully new and better relationship between the peoples of Ireland and Britain -- one built on equality and mutual respect. Republicans have been to the forefront in working to bring this about and we will continue to do so.
The visit by the Queen of England provides a unique opportunity for the British establishment to make it clear that this is its intention also. If this is the case it will be a matter of considerable pleasure, not just for her Majesty but for the rest of us as well.
This article by eirigi sets out their justification for marching on Dublin Castle for the Windsor Banquet.
On the evening of the second day of her state visit to the Twenty-Six Counties the British Head of State, Elizabeth Windsor, is to attend a lavish banquet in her honour in Dublin Castle. This event will serve as the focus for an eirigi-organised March on Dublin Castle which will start assembling at the site of Robert Emmet’s execution, beside St Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street, at 5.30pm on Wednesday May 18th.
While the exact list of attendees at the Windsor banquet has yet to be revealed it can be safely assumed that it will be made up of a cross section of Britain and Ireland’s ruling classes. There is little doubt that hundreds of the wealthiest and most powerful people in Ireland will gorge themselves on the best of food and wine while all around them the people of Ireland struggle to survive.
Many of the politicians, business people and journalists that will attend this sickening banquet are the very same people that have surrendered one part of Ireland to Britain and the other part to the banks, the IMF and the EU. The prospect of this rogues gallery of parasites raising their glasses of champagne to the health of the Commander-in-Chief of the British military would be hard to take at the best of times. But for it to happen at a time when vital public services are being slashed to fund the bank bailout is particularly galling.
Speaking in advance of the March on Dublin Castle, eirigi Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan said, “Like other aspects of the Windsor visit, the banquet in Dublin Castle smacks of the arrogance that defines the political establishment in this state. At the height of the worst economic crisis in generations they decide to hold the most lavish of state banquets and expect people not to have a problem with it!
“It is fitting that Dublin Castle is to host this night of excess. For centuries it served as the headquarters of the British occupation, a place to be feared and loathed in equal measure. And now in 2011 the British occupiers are to be lauded within its halls by the gombeen politicians and gangster bosses of the Twenty-Six Counties.
“And it is fitting too that our march on Dublin Castle will assemble at the site of Robert Emmet’s execution on Thomas Street. The contrast between what Emmet fought and died for and what the Windsor banquet represents could not be more extreme. We are hoping that the people of Dublin and beyond will join the march and take the opportunity to send a very strong message to our so called leaders. We need to get back to the core demands of Irish republicanism, an Ireland controlled by the people of Ireland for the people of Ireland. We serve neither queen nor chancellor but Ireland.
“We are asking the people of the liberties and the wider south west inner city, in particular, to join the march on Dublin Castle. For generations the ruling elite have neglected these communities and treated them like second class citizens. Now they have the neck to spend countless millions entertaining Windsor and her entourage. And they are doing it within a stone’s throw of the very communities that are suffering the most because of the current cutbacks. It’s time for people to get on the streets for a protest that cannot be ignored and will not be forgotten.”
The March on Dublin Castle will start assembling from 5.30pm on Wednesday, May 18th at St Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street, Dublin 8. The march will depart for Dublin Castle at roughly 6.30pm. The protest which will include speeches, music and street theatre is expected to last until at least 8.30pm. If you are opposed to the Windsor visit join the March on Dublin Castle and add your voice to the demand for Irish national and economic freedom. If you are interested in helping with the organisation or promotion of the March on Dublin Castle email email@example.com