A protest march against the English monarchy took place in Dublin on Monday as Irish republicans responded to the accession of King Charles and the proclamation of his intent to rule over the north of Ireland.
A coffin marked ‘RIP British Empire’ was been thrown into the River Liffey. Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland said it was the recreation of an action by former socialist leader James Connolly in Dublin in 1897 during a visit to the city by the then Queen Victoria.
The march in Dublin was described as being “against the grovelling worship of the English Monarchy by the Free State ruling class”.
The group chanted slogans such as “You Say British King, We Say Guillotine” and “Get the Brits Out Now!” as they walked along the capital’s streets.
The group added: “The bowing and scraping from the likes of [Irish President] Michael D Higgins and [Taoiseach] Micheal Martin only highlights the continuing counter-revolutionary and semi-colonial nature of the Free State.
“Socialist Republicans will continue to oppose the normalisation of relations with Britain.”
Protesters also demonstrated against the flying of the Irish flag at half-mast on Irish civic buildings, and briefly attempted to occupy one of them, the GPO building, the former headquarters of the 1916 Irish Rising in Dublin.
It added: “The Tricolour above the GPO flies at half mast for the funeral of a foreign tyrant whose family brought nothing but misery to Ireland.
“The Irish people have no interest in licking the boots of the English Royal parasites.”
A controversy has continued among nationalists and republicans over Sinn Féin’s decision to participate in royal events to mark the passing of the late queen and the accession of Charles to the throne.
Charles flew to the Six Counties last week to be proclaimed as King here at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle in County Down. His warm words for Sinn Féin, who he appeared to favour over the unionist DUP during greetings at the castle, riled supporters of both parties.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party’s actions would “absolutely not” alienate republicans who fought against British rule. She said her party’s relationship with the monarchy had changed over the past 20 years.
“This shows, and I hope this gives confidence to people on the one hand to reaffirm just how far we’ve come, but also to demonstrate just how far much further we can go,” Ms McDonald said.
She described her past interactions with the new king as “cordial, warm, and very direct”.
“And it is that a change? Yes, it is. Who would have thought 20 years ago, 10 years ago that that was possible,” she said.
Michelle O’Neill represented Sinn Féin at the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth in London on Monday.
Richard O’Rawe, an author and an IRA prisoner during the 1981 H-Block hunger strike, said Sinn Féin’s interactions with the royal family over the past week was “clever politics”.
“When you look at in black-and-white, Sinn Féin controlled the TV screens with the dominant images of the day — Alex Maskey’s welcome for Charles at Hillsborough Castle and Michelle O’Neill’s handshake. The unionist parties were onlookers.”
But other former IRA Volunteers, questioned by journalist Suzanne Breen, disagreed.
Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott, an ex-prisoner from Derry who shared H-Block cells with hunger-strikers Bobby Sands and Tom McElwee, and was himself on the blanket protest for four years, said: “Fawning over the British royal family makes Sinn Féin unrecognisable as republicans.
“Nobody threw a stone, let alone fired a bullet, lived in their own excrement or starved to death for Sinn Féin to bend the knee to the monarchy.
“The Queen was not some innocuous figurehead. Republicans were held, and died, in Her Majesty’s Prison Maze.”
Former IRA prisoner and writer Anthony McIntyre described Sinn Féin’s approach to royalty as “deferential whereas it used to be defiant”.
He said: “The party has transitioned from radical opponent of the establishment to compliant team player within it. The hypocrisy is that people denounced (then) SDLP leader Mark Durkan as a ‘West Brit’ for attending the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2001.”
Former US Marine John Crawley, whose book ‘The Yank’ about his three decades in the IRA was published last week, believes Sinn Féin is “gutting republican ideology”.
He said: “Tony Blair said it wasn’t the decommissioning of arms that was important, it was the decommissioning of mindsets. What we’ve just witnessed is the decommissioned mindset at full throttle.
“Sending of condolences following the death of a head of state is normal, but it puts another spin on it entirely — that is lost to neither friend nor foe — when that head of state is commander-in-chief of an army which invaded, and continues to occupy, your country.
“Imagine if Putin died and Ukrainians greeted his successor and offered their condolences. Ukrainian patriots would have many names for that act — political maturity wouldn’t be one of them.”
Historian and commentator Brian Feeney argued Sinn Féin is trying to separate the monarch from the symbolism of monarchy: “They say that they don’t recognise the monarch’s authority over Ireland, rather this is a personal relationship that has developed over a decade.”