McGuinness told ‘stay away’ over banquet controversy
McGuinness told ‘stay away’ over banquet controversy


Sinn Fein has been urged to stay away from Easter commemorations after Martin McGuinness attended a royal banquet and toasted England’s queen, Elizabeth Windsor.

The Six-County Deputy First Minister infuriated republicans last week at the event at Windsor Castle in honour of 26-County president Michael D Higgins.

The strongly worded statement by Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) accuses McGuinness of being a “lackey of her majesty”

In advert placed in weekly newspapers in the Newry and south Armagh areas, it said the RSF message was directed “to the Provos and their leader Martin McGuinness”.

“Stay away from the graves of our departed Irish Republican Volunteers,” it read.

“Your presence and that of your ‘dressed-up’ Brit-loving leader, is a contamination of the sacred places, where the hunger strikers and our other revered patriots rest.

“The Provo leader... was seen lately on TV wearing full evening uniform of white tie and tails, toasting his queen”

“He is not an Irish republican but a very highly paid lackey of her majesty”.

The statement is signed by Republican Sinn Fein Newry and south Armagh.

RSF is one of a number of republican groups who will hold Easter Rising commemorations at republican plots across Ireland this weekend.

The party was formed in 1986 by a number of people who left Sinn Fein in protest at the decision to allow members to take their seats in the 26-County parliament in Dublin.

The organisation’s main commemorations at Milltown cemetery in west Belfast on Sunday will be addressed by party leader Des Dalton. A spokesperson said the leadership had no issue with the sentiments expressed in the advert.

But Sinn Fein Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy claimed the advert was “pathetic”.

“They represent no-one and indeed the only time you hear of them is when they put an ad containing an anti-Sinn Fein rant into the local papers once a year,” he said. “It’s really rather pathetic.”


In a wider debate over the state visit, socialists have criticised the “fawning” by Ireland’s ruling classes over English royalty and royal ceremonies.

Over 50 journalists and crew were dispatched from Dublin by Irish state-run broadcaster RTE to cover the state visit, which received relatively little attention in the British media. Coverage of the event in the mainstream newspapers was strongly sycophantic.

Commentator Eamonn McCan said that the state visit was not about “cementing relations”, but about the Irish elite celebrating their acceptance into an upper layer of society.

“They believe they have now been liberated from any need to pretend dislike for the flummery and pomp which deep down – not all that deep, as a matter of fact – they have envied and aspired to,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, historians have also railed against the Dublin government’s attempts to use the state visit as a springboard for a new anti-nationalist programme, including an ‘Anglo-Irish’ commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising -- the event which directly led to the independence of the 26 County state from British rule.

In two years time, events to mark the centenary of the Rising and the executions of the 1916 leaders are set to include a British royal -- either the queen herself, or her son, Charles Windsor, the commander-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment.

Historian Prof Diarmaid Ferriter has questioned the decision, which he said had bypassed an expert advisory group on the centenary which the government itself had appointed.

He said he was concerned that the presence of the British royal family will end up “distorting history quite significantly”.

“I’m worried that we are heading towards something that is full of holes as to the historical reality at the time,” he said.

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