Royal stupidity
Royal stupidity

An unprecedented security lockdown has been put in place in several locations across Dublin, in Cork and in other sites across Ireland in preparation for the first visit to the 26-County state by the 'Queen of England', Elizabeth Windsor.

The visit will last four days and marks the first return by a British monarch to the state which fought for independence against direct British rule ninety years ago.

Opinion polls have shown the people of Ireland clearly oppose the visit, which could end up costing the state over a hundred million euro.

The head of the Garda press office, Superintendent John Gilligan, said the entire Garda police force, which numbers more than 14,000 members, has been involved in the operation to some degree. Two thousand members of the 26-County Army are also taking part in the effort to contain protests and keep unvetted members of the public as far away from the royals and their courtiers as possible.

Windsor, whose full reigning name is “Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith”, will arrive at Baldonnel military aerodrome this [Tuesday] afternoon.

She and her husband are assured a welcome from the traditionally supportive political and media establishment, but a number of republican groups have vowed to protest against what has been described as a “studied insult” to Irish nationalists.

Some Dubliners have become prisoners in their own city as a result of the extraordinary security that has been imposed to safeguard the pair.

In particular, members of the public have been banned from large ‘exclusion zones’, while posters condemning the visit have been outlawed and torn down. Roads have been closed and parking banned in many parts of the capital since the weekend.

Over the past three weeks, buildings, drains, sewers and manholes along the route to be taken by the royal entourage have been examined, and thousands of barriers have been erected to keep protestors from getting near the royals.

Employees near the locations of the visit have been required to carry a passport, payslip and a copy of their duty roster in order to access their place of work, while local residents and hotel guests have been asked to produce documentation at the Garda checkpoints.


More worryingly, a large contingent of 120 heavily armed British ‘royalty protection officers’ are currently in Dublin and are already patrolling the streets in advance of the visit. The force, who carry Glock pistols and Heckler and Koch submachineguns, have been granted extraordinary permission to shoot members of the public they believe may pose a threat.

Riot squads are on standby, together with mobile water cannons on loan from the PSNI police in the North. Both the PSNI and the British military have been heavily involved in behind-the-scenes planning for the operation.

While much of the royal schedule appears relatively innocuous, some of it appears to have been designed to cause maximum upset. Two of the sites she will visit are particular disturbing. One, Croke Park stadium, was the location of “Bloody Sunday” in 1920, when British troops and police opened fire during a football match, killing 14 people.

Today [Tuesday], Windsor visits the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial dedicated to all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. Republicans have expressed outrage at a plan for Windsor to lay a wreath at the site.

An attempt by over a hundred members of the republican group eirigi to set up an ‘Irish freedom camp’ at the Garden of Remembrance was prevented by Gardai yesterday [Monday] in a major security operation.

“Those who turned out to join our protest today are to be commended,” said Cathoirleach eirigi [Chairman of eirigi] Brian Leeson. “They did so in the face of a concerted effort by all wings of the state to stifle all dissent in relation to the upcoming British royal visit.”

Leeson said the current atmosphere in Dublin City was closer to that of Pinochet’s Chile than that of a free Ireland.

“Those who support the Windsor visit are claiming that nothing could be more normal than the British Head of State visiting Ireland. What we saw today was very far from normal. There is nothing normal about citizens being denied access to a monument dedicated to those who died in the fight for freedom.

“There is nothing normal about the sealing off of streets and the mobilisation of up to 10,000 members of the Twenty-Six County police and military. Indeed there is very little that is normal about any aspect of the Windsor visit.”

He said images of Irish opposition to British rule were already being seen “by millions of people around the world. And the Dublin government have, with their massive security operation, exposed the paper-thin nature of democracy in this state.”

eirigi’s protests events will culminate in a planned march on the Dublin Castle banquet that is being held in honour of the queen on Wednesday evening.


The Windsor visit also coincides exactly with the anniversary of the explosions that killed 34 people in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974. Relatives of the atrocities, carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in collusion with the British Crown forces, have reacted angrily to the news that loyalist paramilitaries have been invited to Dublin in a carnival of British terror.

A gang of five ‘brigadiers’ and over 20 henchmen from the UDA -- the bloodiest and most sectarian of the loyalist groups, responsible for the slaughter of several hundred innocent nationalists -- will attend a royal event at the British War Memorial in Islandbridge.

The plan to invite the leaders of the UDA death squads was described as “outrageous” by Leeson. “Those organising this entire visit are intent on heaping insult after insult on the people of this city and indeed the entire country.

“It is bad enough that they invite Windsor, the Commander-in-Chief of the British military who, in collusion with loyalist death squads were responsible for the Dublin/Monaghan bombings. Now they want to rub salt in the wounds of the victims’ families by inviting the loyalist death squads themselves as special guests to Dublin.”


Brushing off mounting criticism of the visit, Enda Kenny, 26-County Taoiseach and the leader of the traditionally pro-unionist Fine Gael party, claimed Windsor would “receive a very warm welcome from the vast majority of Irish people”.

Mr Kenny insisted the sites chosen for the royal tour were sensitive and appropriate and would “send out a great message of healing of the past.” He added: “The visit of Queen Elizabeth is the start of a new era between both countries, one based on respect and friendship.”

The 26-County President, Mary McAleese, billed it “an extraordinary moment in Irish history”. She said it was “a phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome on to Irish soil, Her Majesty the Queen, the head of state of our immediate next-door neighbours, the people with whom we are forging a new future.”

During the visit, Windsor is expected to deliver a speech to promote the normalisation of the 1921 partition of Ireland. She will also suggest the 26-County state, which withdrew from British dominion status in 1949, rejoin the British Commonwealth of its former Empire nations.

In an article published in full below, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the royal visit could provide “a unique opportunity for mutual respect and equality” on both sides of the Irish Sea. He said he had nothing against the queen but he was “opposed to the idea of monarchies in principle”.

Sinn Fein also issued a statement reaffirming Adams’s belief that the visit was “premature” and criticising the disruption caused in the city as “unacceptable”.

Meanwhile, the State tourism body caused a furore among Irish royalists when it inadvertently downgraded Windsor to princess level by referring to her as “Her Royal Highness” rather than “Her Majesty” in an advertising campaign.

While the Dublin government has claimed the event will promote tourism, there have also been fears that events could end as disastrously as the ‘Love Ulster’ parade in 2006. On that occasion, staunchly pro-British justice Minister Michael McDowell approved a march by flag-waving loyalists and unionist paramilitaries through Dublin city centre, resulting in large-scale rioting and public disorder.


Following her arrival, Windsor will travel to Aras an Uachtarain where she will receive a ceremonial welcome and meet President McAleese. Later she will lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance and then visit Trinity College to view the Book of Kells before going to Farmleigh, where she will stay for the duration of her visit.

On Wednesday she will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings and lay a wreath at the Irish War Memorial in Islandbridge. Later she will visit Croke Park and attend a State dinner in Dublin Castle hosted by President McAleese.

On Thursday she will visit the National Stud and the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud. Later she will attend a celebration at the national convention centre in Dublin hosted by the British embassy. On Friday she will visit the Rock of Cashel and Coolmore Stud before heading to Cork for her final engagements.

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