Friday, 20 May 2011

Her Maj in Ireland

My 4 pennies worth on the Royal visit to Ireland. I make no apologies in briefly skimming the history between our two nations, because this visit is all about history. Am I happy that Britain and Ireland have a good working relationship? That our head of state can visit their head of state and be friendly? That after 89 years we can be civil - yup - absolutely. I think its great and with all the common ties we have that Heads of State can be civil is the least we can expect. As Sarah Carey recently pointed out, Britain has stuck up for Ireland in the recent EU/IMF talks, maybe with our joint dislike of being bossed around by somebody else, we can work together on other aspects of keeping our fiercely fought for independence.

But what I am rather uncomfortable with is apologising for history, especially Irish history. I will freely admit that I'm a bit of a hypocrite on this as I reckon an apology from the Japanese regarding their actions during the Second World War is well overdue. But the Queen laying wreaths of the Irish Republicans sticks in the craw a bit, especially since there seems to be a larger amount of Irish Alzheimer's than usual flying around at the moment.

I will also admit that Britain's rule in Ireland wasn't exactly our finest hour. We spent more on beautifying Hyde Park than we did on Famine Relief during the Potato Blight. The Home Rule movement under Parnell was a litany of missed opportunities, that Captain Boycott wasn't the only example of unfair and oppressive land settlements.

But we're not the only side at fault here. And I worry that the whitewashing of events to the total exclusion of one side will bring problems in the future. For every Cromwell there was a 1641 Plantation Massacre. For every Croke Park massacre there was a Cairo Gang Massacre, For every Bloody Sunday there was a Warrenpoint (in that particular case this not the fault of the Republic of Ireland of course) Etc Etc. Somebody on the blog quite rightly pointed out that we were invading them, but neglected to finish the sentence by bothering to explain why we would be doing this, nor that there was more than the odd Irishman in the invasion barges of the other side.

My point is that I'd just like a bit of quid pro quo on this. If matters had truly dropped then there would be a great deal more intellectual honesty from both sides, and then there would be a bit less "about time" from certain Irish commentators and a bit more "wow, that truly took a bit of guts because we're not exactly whiter than white on this". I won't hold my breath on this as the Independence Myth is a pretty difficult thing to counter - the Americans for example still bang on about "Taxation without representation" and completely ignore the real reasons for their motivation in declaring Independence - The Treaty of Fort Stanwix, The 1763 Royal Proclamation and the "Line of Property".

But after almost a century I hope we will see a more equal evaluation of our joint history, and whilst not wiping out and ignoring where we both came from, perhaps concentrating a little more on what we achieved together - the huge numbers of Irishmen that fought bravely fighting dictatorship in Europe against both Hitler and Napoleon would be a good starting point. At the very least a "Well the Queen of England has admitted that Britain shouldn't have shot the ringleaders of the Dublin Uprising in 1916, maybe we shouldn't have taken those guns, arms or Political support from the Russians/Libyans/Hitler/the Kaiser/Napoleon/King Philipp of Spain when the Brits were fighting for their nations survival.

Once that happens I believe we can both move on a lot more sucessfully than we've managed to do so far.


banned said...

The " bit of quid pro quo " might have been when The Queen honoured the Irish dead fighting in the British Army during WW1 in which Eire was neutral and which has, until now, been somewhat taboo.

The BBC delighted in saying that The Queens first wreath laying was in commemoration of those who died during the 1916 uprising but it took an Irishman to point out that that memorial was to all those Irishmen who had died defending Ireland, then and since.

Tarka the Rotter said...

Spot on!

The Young Oligarch said...

Totally agree .

I take it , though , that banned means the Second World War .

A very Irish dude said...

"maybe we shouldn't have taken those guns, arms or Political support from the Russians/Libyans/Hitler/the Kaiser/Napoleon/King Philipp of Spain when the Brits were fighting for their nations survival."

The only word I have a problem with in this assertion is 'we'. There were, for sure, some who did just that, but the vast majority of 'we' Irish hate the neanderthal republicans with just as much passion as you do.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a royalist, but rather an Anti-Republican (the words "President Tony Blair" fill me with dread).

It was obvious that Her Maj. went out of her way to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and attempt to do her part to heal the rift between our two countries that 100-years of civil war have achieved.

Being both an Irish and UK citizen (with passports from each), I recognize that this was always going to be a difficult road to tread and Her Maj did it very well.

The British response to the Irish during the Global Financial Crisis was much better than that given during the Potato famine.

George Osborne particularly seems to be making a very firm stand behind Irish efforts. This is appreciated.

However, the best thing for Ireland at the moment is a withdrawal from the Euro and the reinstatement of the Punt as a free floating currency. That will allow the Irish to find their own level than the current bogus (and never ending) austerity that is the current false vision.

However, I suspect that Greece needs to go first.

Tiocfaidh ár lá!

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