The British are coming….

So tomorrow, Monday, May 17th, will see Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II pay a visit to dear old Ireland.

The trip will be the first by a British sovereign to the Republic of Ireland, which is a hugely significant move which will go down in modern history. The recent Royal wedding has softened the British Royal families image, which will go along way to how the Queen is received by the Irish people next week.

With visits to both Croke Park and the Garden of Remembrance planned, all eyes will be on the Queen and how she handles this visit to the Republic. I do wonder who chose the proposed locations for the Queen of England to visit as they are significant in Ireland’s history and casualties are in fact owed to Britain.

The Garden of Remembrance commemorates those who died in the 1916 Easter Rising and later the War of Independence against the British. Croke Park was the scene, in 1920, of the first Bloody Sunday massacre when British troops fired into the crowd, killing 16 civilians in retaliation for Michael Collins’ assassination squads murdering British agents across Dublin.

According to the,

The initiative for the visit has come from the Irish president, Mary McAleese, whose successful 14-year term concludes this year. In origin a hard-line Belfast nationalist, she made it the theme of her presidency to build bridges. An early manifestation of this was her presence with the Queen in 1998 at the unveiling of a memorial in Belgium to the Irish of all traditions who died fighting with Britain in the First World War. The next year she lunched at Buckingham Palace and has had several meetings with the Queen. She has made no secret of her ambition to crown her presidency by a royal visit to the Republic, followed, doubtless, by a reciprocal visit. She sees it as a symbolic act of reconciliation, marking normalisation in the wake of the settlement in Northern Ireland of the often fraught relations between the two countries.

For many in Ireland, the past remains in the past. Although many lives were lost, Ireland and Britain have moved on. However, in my opinion, the Queen will be a moving target next week. With nationalist promises of protests; Eirigi are just one group planning to  stage a protest in the Gardens of Remembrance, can Ireland keep her safe from its own?

The  state,

Even if you also temporarily leave out the prospect that the likes of the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and Óghlaigh na hÉireann will deploy security alerts across Dublin to disrupt the royal entourage, the Irish state still faces the prospect of horrendously damaging global publicity.

Ireland’s number one priority will be keeping the Queen safe, with costs reported by RTE to amount to €30 million; 10,000 gardaí and soldiers are to be deployed as part of the largest security operation ever in Ireland.

This visit also offers Ireland many opportunities. Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons has said that ‘a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the island of Ireland to a huge audience of potential holidaymakers across Britain and has the potential to deliver a major boost to Irish tourism in 2011 and beyond.

Love Niamh x


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