Thursday, March 20, 2008

No Welcome Mat At The Door

Can I come to see your lovely land, asks Her Majesty the Queen of England. My beloved granny is on record as finding the island a delight, although the people were quite ragged and emaciated when Victoria first came to call.

No British monarch has set foot in the Republic of Ireland. That's ninety years of having the welcome mat pulled from the door. Bygones aren't ready to be bygones just yet.

Victoria was on the throne in Black '47. She came to visit her restless subjects and was surprised at their shabby state. Not to worry, though. The Queen of England indulged in a sumptuous feast in Dublin while the Irish people were dying of starvation. She came again, when the land was in turmoil over the Home Rule issue, and was roundly ignored by the nationalists.

To say that the Irish people have no love for British royalty would be an understatement. But with herself calling on the high and mighty in Belfast on Thursday, there's noises being made about a royal visit. Ireland's free of English rule, so why not let the Queen trot around Punchestown?

You want to stop in, asks the Irish government. Fine. As soon as policing powers are devolved to the Stormont Executive, up there in Belfast where you're handing out your Maundy money. When Home Rule has come to Northern Ireland, fully and completely, then you can set your feet on Irish soil. Until then, the door's closed and locked.

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