Thursday, 23 September 2010

Can You Hear Us Loud and Clear? British Royals Not Welcome Here

Scores of protesters took to the streets of Dublin on Monday evening [September 20] to show their opposition to the proposed state visit by the British head of state to the Twenty-Six Counties.

The event was the third such protest organised by éirígí since June, when Brian Cowen revealed that his government intended to invite Elizabeth Windsor on a state visit, most likely in the summer of 2011.

The protest, which began at 6pm outside City Hall, was timed to coincide with a special sitting of Dublin City Council, which was convened to clear a backlog of motions which had been submitted by councillors. One such motion by éirígí councillor Louise Minihan read:

“That this council notes with deep concern the proposal for a state visit to the Twenty Six Counties by the British head of state. Such a visit would be entirely inappropriate whilst the British state continues to implement imperialist policies and commit human rights abuses across the world, most notably in Afghanistan, Iraq and here in Ireland. This council calls on the Dublin government to abandon its plans to invite the British head of state to Ireland and on behalf of the proud citizens of this city we declare that Elizabeth Windsor is not welcome in Dublin.”

As the protest got underway, the well known Dublin actor Jer O'Learey read aloud an article written by James Connolly on the occasion of a visit to Dublin by the man then masquerading as the king of England, George V. That visit, in 1911, was the last time that a reigning British monarch stepped foot in Dublin. To those listening on Dame Street on Monday evening it was clear that Connolly’s analysis of British royalty is as accurate today as it was at the time that it was written, almost a century ago.

Later, as the éirígí motion was being debated within City Hall, those gathered outside made their voices heard with chants of “Can you hear us loud and clear – British royals not welcome here”. As had been the case with the previous protests, the high level of public support from motorists and pedestrians alike was noticeable.

Following a half hour debate on the motion, Dublin City Council voted, not unexpectedly, against the anti-royal visit motion by a margin of 24 to 11. The three main establishment parties, Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, remained true to historic form and voted against the motion, in effect welcoming the head of Britain’s armed forces to Dublin.

Addressing the protest following the debate, Minihan said: “The councillors behind us have shown themselves to be hypocrites by passing motions in here on human rights abuses in other countries and ignoring the facts when it comes to our own.

“We submitted this motion, not in the hope that there would be an awakening by the reactionary elements on Dublin City Council, but, as with our motions on political prisoners in Maghaberry and on the use of plastic bullets, we aimed to smash the myth that there are normal relations between Ireland and Britain.

“The visit by the commander and chief of the British armed forces was never going to be beaten in the capitalist halls of power. But it can be beaten by republicans, socialists and other progressives taking to the streets like we do tonight and physically demonstrating our opposition and outrage.

“It is our right to resist our oppressors. What the Gardaí, the Special Branch and the capitalist politicians will never understand is that we stand in the vein of Tone, Connolly, Sands and Farrell and though they may try to criminalise us, arrest us, or even kill us – so long as Ireland is unfree there will always be those willing to take our place.”

Minihan continued: 'This establishment needs to be taught the lesson that they have failed to learn from the time of the United Irishmen to 1916, right down to today. I defy this establishment to bring the figure head of oppression to our shores. We will be ready and we will be waiting, the croppies will never lie down!

“In the coming weeks and months, éirígí will be stepping up our opposition to any proposed British royal visit.”

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