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The British Queen's Visit To Dublin: Lessons For The Republican And Socialist Movements?

category dublin | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Sunday June 05, 2011 00:07author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacity Report this post to the editors

Could/ should the protests have been larger? Should there have been any protests at all?

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Queen is greeted by President Mary McAleese

As Elizabeth Windsor's visit moves into history it is time to analyse the reasons for the visit and what happened during it: the small protests, the massive restrictions on movement in Ireland's capital city, the huge violations of the right to protest,

Elizabeth Windsor, Queen of the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland, Head of the Commonwealth, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces and Head of the Church of England, also head of an imperialist and capitalist family of vast wealth, has visited the 26 Counties Irish state for her first time ever (although she has previously visited the Six Counties of ‘Northern Ireland’).

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At a huge cost for which estimates started at €30 million but must surely be much higher, a massive security operation was launched by the state not only to ensure that the Queen concluded her visit unharmed, but that she would meet no sign of protest anywhere, whether by demonstration, banner, grafitti or poster. Great numbers of police were visible for days prior to the visit on Dublin streets and protest graffitti lasted at most a day before it was cleaned off. Many streets in the city centre and approaches and most of the bridges were cordoned off for at least hours and, in some cases, for days. But there were no crowds waving the “Union Jack” – in fact there were no crowds at all, except those penned in behind barriers and police lines, waiting to go to work, go home, go shopping etc., pick up their kids, or those on protest.

One of the propaganda lines to sell this visit to the Irish public was that it would be “good for tourism” and therefore would “create jobs”. In the short term, this was obviously grossly untrue. It was actually bad for tourism, as visitors to the city found the main street blocked off and were re-routed around on a complicated journey (and at times down back streets they were uneasy at walking), tourist attractions such as the Castle and Trinity were closed for a time or had parts permanently blocked; traffic including coaches arriving from the West was delayed by about an hour, walking and bus tours were cancelled; taxis had difficulty picking up passengers and setting them down due to crowd barriers (without crowds!) and in some cases visitors found their very hotels surrounded by barriers. Restaurants and cafes in affected areas suffered huge loss of business and even outlying areas felt the effects.

It is doubtful whether in the longer-term it will encourage tourism either. Some media have spoken of it generating a large influx of British tourists who will now feel “safe”. Will they feel safer than the three to six million tourists from Britain (according to various estimates) who currently visit us every year? Who else will be wanting to come to Ireland now who did not want to do so previously? Really, the whole idea is and was prepostrous, and only a tame and obedient media would put it forward or refrain from challenging it. The motivation for the visit had nothing to do with tourism – it was purely political.

The previous time a British monarch had arrived in Dublin was when George VI had been in 1911 to what was then the second city in the British Empire, a decade before a political and armed campaign of resistance forced the British ruling class to propose a deal in which sovereignty for a major part of the country was ceded, in theory, to the Irish people. That deal in 1921, of course, led to a split in the Irish national liberation movement and a Civil War in which a section fought for the comprador (foreign-dependent) Irish bourgeoisie and, reinforced by recruits who had never fired a shot during the War of Independence (except perhaps in the British Army) defeated those who wished to have a united country free from British rule. The working class was marginalised during this struggle, both by the Republican leadership and by their own leaders who kept their organisations from taking sides. James Connolly and some other prominent socialists had been killed during the Rising of 1916 or executed afterwards; the Citizen Army had last seen action in the Rising and did not fight as a unit again, gradually disappearing from the stage.

The comprador capitalist state built on the defeat of the national liberation forces in 1922 has had a number of changes in government since then but essentially remains the same. That explains many things, including how it could invite the visit of the head of an invader state which is still holding on to a huge chunk of Irish territory and then defend her from their own citizens, in the course of which their police tore more than one Irish tricolour from the hands of protesters and, on occasion, put them into rubblish bins. The tricolour, mind, the official colours of the state!

The state wished to have this visit mark the normalisation of Irish society – the normalisation of the occupation of the Six Counties as well as the bailouts of financial speculators, paid for by the empovirishment of the majority of the Irish people. They may have wished for normalisation and they may still get it, but the huge security operation, the swamping of so many areas by police, the erection of barriers in so many places and the protests were all eloquent parts of a narrative that there was nothing normal about the visit or about Britain’s relationship with Ireland.

The visit was greeted with joy and sycophantic comment by representatives of the Irish bourgeoisie and its media. By contrast, most ordinary people either had nothing to say or were against it.

The mobilisations for the protests and the notable absences gave us much to think about, as did the relative ease with which the state was able to prevent us getting anywhere nearer than about two hundred kilometres from the ceremonies in the centre of our small city. The massive security operation resulted in a huge attack on civil liberties of Dublin civilians of any kind of political opinion, with regard to the right of free movement, as well of course as to the right to protest peacefully by those who opposed the visit. This attack was notable not only by the arrogance and arbitrariness of the actions of the Gardaí but also by the total absence of any kind of civil rights defence organisation.

Most people years ago and perhaps some up to a few weeks ago would have expected massive protests to be organised by Sinn Féin. This expectation would have arisen out of the organisation’s origins in opposing British rule and their movement’s practice over many years. Even after the Good Friday Agreement, many would still have expected the organisation to be to the fore in any protests against the visit of a British reigning monarch, at least while the 6 Counties of the north of Ireland remained under British occupation.

It was not to be. First Martin McGuinness, senior figure in the SF leadership, publicly stated his wish that there be no protest against the monarch’s visit. Gerry Adams, the party’s president, began by saying that he considered the visit “premature” but that he respected the decision of the Irish President to invite the Queen. In another interview a few days before the visit, he expressed the wish that since she was going to come, that her visit should play a role in improving relations between both countries. Over recent weeks, queries of SF activists in Dublin elicited a shifting of feet and sliding of eyes as they struggled to reconcile their own view with those of their leadership and to defend the indefensible.

The SF leadership struggled to give their more militant following something while projecting themselves to the bourgeoisie as the “responsible” bourgeois party they wish to become. In the end they decided that they would promote the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 1974, in the course of which some of the relatives of the slain civilians in Dublin felt that their annual commemoration was being hijacked. The party’s only Dublin protest which could be closely linked to the British Queen’s visit was the release of black balloons from their headquarters on Parnell Square West as she visited the Gardens of Remembrance on on the other side of the Square. In the run-up to the visit, the party leadership instructed their members not to support any demonstration organised by “anti-Good Friday Agreement groups” which of course, meant no demonstrations for them at all. Some of their young supporters defied their leadership and came out anyway but the vast majority stayed away.

The organisation which had most energetically been promoting resistance to the royal visit was undoubtedly éirigí, the Republican socialist organisation (and also with the largest Dublin membership among the “dissident” groups). They had in fact been organising opposition to any talk of British royal visits for years and had brought about a significant protest a number of years previously near the Croke Park stadium, when the British Queen’s sister had been invited by the Rugby Union of Ireland to one of their games there. Recently, with the Queen’s visit due soon, they held an O’Connell Street protest where the highlight was the monarch being “tried” for “crimes against the people”, being found guilty and then beheaded by guillotine.

But they were not the only group to hold public protests in Dublin’s main street in the run-up to the visit, as the Republican Network for Unity and Republican Sinn Féin had held separate protests there too. In addition, the Socialist Workers’ Party had organised a tour of four Irish cities between the 13th and 15th of May for Prof. John Newsinger to speak on the “Horrible History of the House of Windsor”. About 40 people attended the Dublin meeting

During the visit and just before it éirigí organised four public protests while the numerically smaller (in Dublin) 32-County Sovereignty Movement and RNU carried out two separate protests. Although there seemed to be some joint action between 32 CSM and RSF at one point during the visit, there was no joint action between the other organisations. An exception might have been on the 18th when a group of fifty or so 32 CSM approached the éirigí rally platform in Thomas Street from the direction of the Castle, halted there a while chanting slogans, only to turn and march back. A call for unity? A challenge? A disparaging comment? The answer is not known, but by the time the éirigí march got going and reached the scene, the others had been ‘kettled’ down a side street and were kept there for hours.

The éirigí protests were almost entirely peaceful with some police violence and the odd missile thrown. For the week of the visit itself they had planned originally two public activities: a ‘peace camp’ outside the Garden of Remembrance to prevent or at least protest the scheduled visit of the British Queen there and a march to protest outside Dublin Castle during the reception and banquet hosted by the State in her honour the following day. However, the police prevention of the protesters getting near the Garden of Remembrance forced a change of plan; the protest would now meet further towards the Centre and march on as near as they could get to Parnell Square (in which the Garden is located) and make their noisy protest there.

The other additional protest was planned for the Memorial Park at Islandbridge, when it was learned that British Loyalist assassination squad leaders of the UDA had been invited to lay wreaths at the monument to Irish soldiers who were killed in the British Armed forces during the World Wars.

The éirigí protest on Sunday May 15th at the Parnell Monument corner of Parnell Square took place there because the Gardaí predictably prevented them from moving up to the Garden of Rembrance.

On Tuesday 17th, the day the Queen was to enter the Garden of Rembrance, the éirigí protest the started off at O’Connell Street, where they tussled with the Gardaí as they sat for awhile at the Spire in the cordoned-off O’Connell Street. Then they moved off to Moore Street, the sadly neglected site of the last headquarters of the 1916 Rising, before entering Parnell Street and, amid some shoving by Gardaí, sitting down in the road at the junction with Parnell Square West. The slogans here were: “They say ‘Queen’ – we say Guillotine!”; “Whose streets? Our streets!”; “Can you hear us loud and clear? British Royals not welcome here!”

On the same afternoon, the RNU met at Connolly Station but were prevented by Gardaí from entering O’Connell Street; they then made their way up side streets to get as near as they could get to the Garden of Rembrance and ended up protesting at Dorset St/ Frederick St. North junction..

It was there at that junction too that the 32 CSM and RSF began their protests, whether by joint arrangement is not known.

The police at the corner of Dorset Street and Frederick Street had two lines of barriers and were standing behind them, preventing further movement towards the Garden of Remembrance. After awhile, orange smoke flares were thrown into the police lines and struggles broke out around the barriers as some of the protesters tore one line of them away from the police. The police here drew batons and used pepper spray on at least one protester. As the Queen arrived at the Garden of Rembrance (out of sight of the protesters), police in riot gear with batons drawn began to drive the protesters along Dorset Street, including those peacefully protesting with placards and flags, in the direction out of town; some of the protesters started to burn rubbish bags and to use whatever they could find to throw at the police, including bricks and stones.

The protesters were driven down as far as the junction with Eccles Street. The police in many instances were quite heavy-handed even with local bystanders, some of which were hurt and some of which appear to have been arrested. One cyclist and then two young women who were rapping were attacked by the police with choke holds and taken away in vans; rumour had it that 20 people altogether were arrested on Dorset Street.

That same evening, the Irish Anti-War Movement (closely associated with the Socialist Workers’ Movement), held their protest in O’Connell Street against the royal visit. Posters for the the “black balloon protest” event concentrated on the role of British Imperialism as a major partner in the US-led military coalition of invasion and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speakers addressing the 400 or so during the event concentrated on those issues too and it was left to Ben Griffin, ex-British SAS soldier who had served in both areas of war, to make what might have been a subtle reference to Ireland’s own specific issue with the British state and monarchy, when he expressed his “solidarity with people who actively believe in peace and independence, as opposed to the wars and Empire represented by Her”.

On the 18th, the éirigí protest began with a rally on Thomas St. outside St. Catherine’s Church, across the road from where the British had hung, drawn and quartered Robert Emmet in 1803. The rally took some time in starting and organisers informed the crowd that they were awaiting speakers from the 6 Counties. As the crowd began to get restive, one of the éirigí members kept them entertained from the stage with ballads a capella. Eventually the rally began with speeches from éirigí leaders and a member recently elected as a town councillor to Newry, but also from a Dublin City councillor (Ciaran Perry, independent socialist), a representative of Fírinne (organisation seeking a public enquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan) bombings and Eugene Mc Cartan of the Irish Communist Party. They also had a short performance from the singer-songwriter Pol Mac Adam.

It was approaching two hours after the originally-advertised time for the rally when they formed up and about 500 marched along Thomas St. towards the Castle. Apart from the éirigí supporters, there were also small groups of socialists and republicans such as the the anarchist WSM (whose banner had been confiscated earlier) and the IRSP, along with independent socialists and republicans.

As they reached the junction with Patrick Street, with Christchurch on the far corner, they were confronted with double lines of Gardaí blocking access towards Dublin Castle or down towards the Liffey. To the right, penned into a side street off Patrick Street, the flags of the 32-CSM (who had earlier briefly neared the rally before marching away again) could be seen on the other side of another double row of Gárdaí. A few speeches were made at the junction and then a netful of black balloons was released. As the march dispersed soon after, many to take the long circuitious routes back across the city, the dreadlocked Ciaron O’Reilly, one of the famous Shannon Five, began a speech about Bradley Manning, the US Serviceman currently in jail awaiting trial for allegedly supplying Wikkileaks with thousands of secret US forces documents.

Although protester violence was a minor element in the protests as a whole, it has been raised as an issue by some commentators, as have the intentions and composition of the protesters. That some people, whether from a political perspective or the social one of the downtrodden inner city poor, should want to use these occasions to wreak revenge on the police should surprise no-one. But is that deserving of such condemnation? The police serve the ruling class and have dished out violence on a mass scale to many protesting groups, most noticeably in recent months to the protesting students, one of whom they even knocked unconscious and threw into the street . And violence and contempt is meted out on a smaller basis but often day by day to those who were neglected in deprivation and infested with heroin in the 80’s and have been ignored by the Celtic Tiger since: the inner city poor. In some of the protests, a small group of drug addicts took part, one of their number struggling to stay awake. In the protest on the 17th, a group of local schoolchildren – sitting on the ground near one of them, I could see his school uniform trousers, perhaps a hand-me-down from an older brother, had been taken up at least eight inches on the inside and stitched there, to be let down as he grew taller.

Some of those elements needed to be controlled for the overall good of the protest and, in the eírigí protests they were, without being asked to leave. In the short term, that seems the right way to handle the situation (in the longer term, education, training, organisation). Up on Dorset Street, those elements were encouraged by some to mix it with the Garda “robocops” and one must question the justice of doing that, with no political or civil rights organisation ready to support them when they are arrested or go to court.

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The state uses violence against its opponents whenever it deems it necessary and, as with the Citizen Army formed during the Lock-Out of 1913, socialists and republicans have the right to reply in kind. But outnumbered ten or twenty to one on streets that the Gardaí mostly controlled, with further numbers of Garda in nearby reserve, this was not the time to give them the excuse to clear all protest off the streets.

To look on the credit side of the account, it was important that the visit did not go unopposed. Those protests salvaged the pride of nation and class to an extent and will be remembered for many years, even if not appreciated by many now. Had they not occurred, the shame and demoralisation would have driven the wide anti-imperialist movement further down into despair.

There was some joint action in places and, albeit too little and too late, that may be built on for the future.

The most significant positive result of the protests, apart from the fact that they actually took place, was that Sinn Féin must now lose any standing it had left among genuine Irish Republicans. Not only has it abandoned its claims to socialism (apart perhaps from the radical social-democratic niche abandoned by the Labour Party which SF appear to be trying to slide into), and to anti-imperialism (Adams welcoming Obama’s forthcoming visit), the party cannot even be said to have stood up for Irish nationalism on this occasion. The haemorraging of its youth support is set to continue and even some of its old-timers, who have already swallowed so much, are going to find their party’s statements and inaction sticking in their throats.

On the debit side, there was a massive attack on the people’s civil rights that to date remains largely unanswered. Intrusive political ‘vetting’ of local people by the police went on in Ballybough, near Croke Park. Freedom of movement of citizens and, in many areas of local residents, whether on foot, public or private transport was massively impeded and constrained by the police. Students’ exams were peremptorily rescheduled in Trinity College. There was a restriction of the right to poster before the visit and a complete ban during it, imposed by Dublin City Council and by DCU. Posters which had been legally applied for and permission granted were torn down by police in at least some areas and posterers harassed.

ID checks were widely carried out by the police and even people’s camera memories checked. Even tourists were harassed and on occasion their ID documents were demanded and details noted. Activists were pulled over while driving and their cars searched and, on occasion, placards and banners confiscated. There were a number of incidents of even the tricolour being confiscated in different areas (and in at least one incident, captured on camera, being placed in a garbage truck). Many protesters were prevented from reaching the areas where the protests were taking place. Some protesters and even onlookers were arrested.

Organised opposition to the British queen’s visit was scattered, outnumbered and, in most cases, outflanked or preempted to a degree.

The revolutionary movements of nation and of class have suffered a psychological blow and the feeling of shame will need to be redeemed.

To paraphrase Marlon Brando speaking in his boxer role in On the Waterfront (1954) to his gangster brother (Rod Steiger), “we cudda bin contenders”. We could have. We could have brought out bigger numbers, have had a greater visual impact for weeks in advance, have moved more people to sympathise with the protests and mutter about the cost, the inconvenience, the lack of civil rights attendant on the state’s security operation. We would have emerged with greater morale and something of a groundswell upon which we could then build greater resistance to the state and its plans for us. We could even perhaps have had civil rights defenders present. We could have made things much more difficult for the state than we did.

From the moment the visit looked certain, we could have had a wide swathe of citizens wearing badges and t-shirts and with car stickers expressing opposition to the visit. The city could have been covered in many more posters and stickers and slogans than was the case. Face Book groups could have multiplied. Many events could have been held in the run-up to the visit, raising consciousness and militancy, preparedness. Innovative and eye-catching events and stunts could have been organised both before and during the visit. Working-class areas around the inner city could have been leafletted and meetings held there. Preparations could have been made to take into account the barricades and checkpoints. Cheap noise-making gadgets could have been mass produced for the protests (as simple as two or three tin cans strapped together and to be struck by stick or piece of metal, one for each person). The inventiveness, energy and enthusiasm of all those with an anti-imperialist consciousness could have been liberated.

For those things to happen, we would have needed a joint committee on which the various interested organisations and hopefully some non-aligned individuals would had had representation and whose decisions or recommendations would have been supported by word and deed across the whole bandwidth of opposition to the visit. From that, smaller working groups could have worked on their areas of expertise or particular interest.

For the socialist persective to be represented adequately the participation of the non-republican socialist organisations and individuals, including the anarchists would have been important. The SWP current took part in a small way with their supporters well away from areas near where the Queen was scheduled to visit, while the Socialist Party declined to organise or to take part in any protest at all, apart from a short and somewhat jokey contribution in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) from Joe Higgins, one of their two TDs (parliamentary representatives).

The unfortunate positions of the SP and the Workers’ Party with regard to the Six Counties have been known for decades but the SWP used to have a clear anti-imperialist line on the issue. From what could be seen during the British Queen’s visit, that seems to be weakening. The WSM’s participation in Dublin was also minimal and last minute and perhaps signals some ideological difficulty of their own.

Without the kind of build-up referred to above and united leadership, gathering in all the possible oppositional strands, why should we expect a high turnout from a population already demoralised by the attacks on them and our apparent inability to resist with any effectiveness?

Ní neart go cur le chéile, the Irish proverb goes; however Republican organisation did not unite with Republican organisation, socialist organisation did not unite with socialist, and neither of these wings of the spectrum of the political opposition to the Irish state united with the other. Once again, we failed to set aside differences, even if temporarily, to unite in action against the common enemy. When some of us finally did so, it was too late and we were too few to make a difference.
“Our foes were united and we were divided –
we met and they scattered our ranks to the wind.”
Well, not quite. But they did prevent us having anything like the impact we wished to have.

It is not too late to make some important gains from this. If we have not learned the lesson of unity against the system, perhaps at least we have learned to appreciate temporary tactical unity and to work for it when events require it. And perhaps as a first step, we can all unite to make a demand of the civil rights sector that it carry out its supposed function or, if should it be unable to do so, that we set up our own alternative, working across party lines. We could start by setting up a commission to take statements regarding civil rights violations during this visit. What we do now may offer us some protection the next time. The state carried out this operation for a particular specific purpose but it will not fail to employ the same tactics against us again. Let us be ready.

Anti-Royal visit video (RNU):

German news video

BBC news video

RTÉ news video

Spoof video

Videos of protests
Listen to the Garda officer in charge who says he "never heard of them" (the UDA). Well, Officer, it was people like them with British Intelligence assistance who laid the no-warning bombs that later exploded with slaughter in Dublin and Monaghan streets and it was your Asst. Chief Commissioner at the time, Ned Garvey and who worked for British Intelligence, who handed over the wreckage to the RUC for forensic examination! Still collaborating, Gardaí!

Photos, reports and comment

Radio interview with two descendants of 1916 rebels

Queen greets crowds in Cork
Queen greets crowds in Cork

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Fri May 27, 2011 01:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Union Jack": Common vernacular name for the flag of the United Kingdom.
Opened in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the Garden of Remembrance tastefully honours “all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom” but in fact only those from 1798 until 1921.
In Cork, while the Town Council orchestrated “popular” demonstrations of welcome, a protest was actually organised by the local Sinn Féin, attended by IRSP, WSM and 32-CSM (
Ex-British SAS Ben Griffen's comments:
Student beaten up and being thrown unconscious into the street was captured on video and is available on Youtube.
Two lines of song from "Bold Fenian Men" by Michael Scanlan, 1860s or ‘70s (not to be confused with Peader Kearney’s "Down by the Glenside").

I witnessed a number of the events myself and relied on other eye-witness accounts for others. Bourgeois media sources were used only to assess the overall Irish media position (a link to a departure from that, by Kerrigan of the Irish Independent, has been provided) and to supply links to news video . British tourism to Ireland figures were taken from a number of Google sources.

author by .....publication date Fri May 27, 2011 12:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

hi diarmuid,great article,
i feel i have to point out though that sinn fein in cork organisied a celebration,which they asked for permission to hold, members of local irps 32s rsf and independents marched from the lough church
with flags and banners down through the side streets finally emerging from behind the local fás building and lined the the river where we made a lot of noise. sinn fein then used stewards to separate us from them(maybe we might contaminate them with ideas or something) which proved their own undoing as most people on the day were attracted to the militant section,i.e. the actual people protesting,and lots of people ,young people from the sinn fein side joined the protesters who attempted to cross police lines on the bridges.
sinn fein members were seen shaking hands with members of the gardai who for years harassed intimidated imprisoned their local members,which says it all really.

all in all it was the best could be hoped for due to the poor orgganising of it and most feel there was a better turnout than expected.there are a lot of lessons to be learned from it. i think the republican unity in cork that marched from the lough to be joined by local wsm and others was the most important lesson. níl neart go cur le chéile.

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Fri May 27, 2011 15:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks, ..... Sorry for any inaccuracy in the reference to the action in Cork. I based my short reference to that event on the Cork section report on the WSM website (which, to be honest, was the first I had heard of any actions there). From what you say it seems that the action was much more united in Cork than in Dublin. What were SF celebrating? Any photos or video you can give me? You can send the links to my FB.

author by .....publication date Fri May 27, 2011 18:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

no problem diarmuid.
ya fair bit of unity on the day,great to see it. think most people there ignored sinn feins assembley seeing as they put a human chain between us and them,pathetic looking to be honest. people ran from bridge to bridge trying to cross and at one point suceeded in crossing bridge by jurys hotel but were beaten back by pigs who arrived with baton in hand and struck a number of the 32s if i recall correctly. good atmosphere on the day it has to be said. rsf at one point chucked a makeshift coffin into the lee with words brit empire on it. a piper joined us and played the pipes in front of pig lines playing galtee mountain boy among others,the pipes are always good for morale!
ya definetly more unity than in dublin,think the lack of unity in dublin is down to personal rivalries as much as political differences in my opinion. why the different groups couldnt come together as you said in 'tactical unity' to coordinate protests.pity. 32s in dublin made a good job of isolating themselves very quickly and eirigi spent too much time talking......

author by Ciaron - Giuseepe Conlon House, London Catholic Workerpublication date Fri May 27, 2011 22:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good article Diarmuid
Thanx for taking the time to write it

I know thousands of Portugese fooball fans who won't be returning to Ireland as tourists in a hurry!

author by Caobhinpublication date Fri May 27, 2011 23:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't know if it was down to rivalries in the left/republican groups that no umbrella group was formed to oppose elizabrits visit but it was a missed opportunity and did nothing to maximise numbers on the street. I think Eirigi realised the need for an umbrella group shortly before the visit and made some approaches to create a coalition but it was much too late in the day for anything to be done.
In 1995 D.A.R.T (Dublin against royal tour) was formed to protest the visit of her jug-eared son and the numbers out were in thousands as opposed to hundreds. Although the Shinners took a back seat then, which was understandable then considering they were being scrutinised for any tiny breach of the ceasefire, their members were not instructed to stay away from protests, and many took part. Their pathetic see-sawing in 2011 is less excusable as it is merely to avoid antagonising the "middle class vote" - this when the next general election is probably 5 years away.

The other major factor minimising protests was the media scare campaign lumping all groups together as thugs/terrorists which served both to intimidate and prepare the way for the police state/martial law inflicted on the people of central Dublin for three days. As to be expected, the arseholes running the Labour Party facilitated all this - to hear that clown Gilmore congratulating the people of Dublin for the "good humour" with which supposedly accepted this bog fascism and the non-existent welcome they were supposed to have given the brit queen was both nauseating and an indication of the clueless arrogance of the elite.

That said, at least the general apathy extended to any pro-brit manifestations, the pathetic media fabrications of 25-30,000 lining the quays of Cork were laughable when the reality was of students being given the afternoon off to create a Potemkin crowd. This last minute desperation to pass the visit off as a success only underlined the fact that the visit was only for the slurry of this society and that no plebs could be trusted anywhere near this 85 year old serial decorator of torturers, murderers, tax dodging media moguls and tosspot rock singers.

author by Joe Mcpublication date Sat May 28, 2011 13:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good report from Diarmuid Breatnach and thanks for the imput from Cork . Some of the problems of coordinating events like these could, in my opinion, be resolved if we had an independent website that wasn't controlled by any one faction of the left /republican movement ..

"The comprador capitalist state built on the defeat of the national liberation forces in 1922 has had a number of changes in government since then but essentially remains the same." Diarmuid Breatnach

I'm not at all sure if that remains the case after this visit , Diarmuid . The royal visit may not actually have been a coup d' etat as such ( it felt that way to many people ) but it surely signified a major shift in relations between Britain and the Free State.

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Sun May 29, 2011 15:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Go raibh maith agaibh for the comments.

. Recently a Republican commented to me that not even in Britain would they have locked down their capital city like that for their own head of state. I agreed and replied that the difference between their capitalist class and ours is that theirs wants to run their country while 'ours' wants to sell ours. It was a quick reply but on reflection I think it sums up the difference succinctly.

This state remains one of capitalism but a weak and dependent capitalism -- dependent first on British Imperialism (which in turn means on US imperialism) and secondly on the imperialist states of Europe. This visit has not changed that but some see it as a prelude to intensifying or formalising that dependency by our bourgeoisie joining the Commonwealth. I remain unconvinced that is anywhere in the near future.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Tue Jun 07, 2011 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I dont think the Commonwealth(more the Aristo-wealth in truth) is on the horizon.

NATO is the one I see looming. FAR more malign.

At least that Commonwealth is mostly ex-colonies, so some residual collective memory.
NATO is the imperial colonisers' club.
And its sole agenda is offensive ops, disguised as 'defence' of imperial democracy, i.e. the consensual board directors of the megabanks/Military-Industrialists coupled to the extractive resource-warriors and mafia drug trillions.

Lotsa wannabe members in de blueshits(Lowry is setting up his casino/laundry for them) (no, I didn't drop me 'r' by mistake back there, its a necessary cut-back for the times we're in).

author by Cork Man.publication date Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A "here-today-gone-tomorrow" woman upsets some people.

author by history is nowpublication date Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I dont think its just a mater of here today gone tomorrow, the coordination and choreographing of this is very very important , well, to people who believe in creating a better world. Its not that any symbol should annoy anyone but that it the message from on high is forget your collective memory of resisting to things, look she is just an old woman, god bless her, dont question the wars , the killings, the soldiers, the wealth. The thing to be afraid of is that they they will do this to any one who wants to challenge imperialism and the neo-liberal agenda, this time they just got the boot in to people who oppose domination on a national basis, in demonising an expression of national liberation away from a colonial power but tomorrow the felon setting could easily be based on class, ethnicity , them blasted anarchists, students, etc etc.
To the previos poster I ask what should then our emotion or response be to this event or the visit of anyone that represents inequality, war, domination, violence, sectarianism in the future. Is everything going to be reduced to the 'symbolic'. Should we all just pack up bags and not give a damn anymore.

author by wageslave (personal capacity)publication date Thu Jun 09, 2011 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

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author by Blazes Boylan - nonepublication date Sun Jun 12, 2011 14:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If we hadn't been the handmaidens of European colonialism we would not have the welfare state world we live in today. We are rich because of it. We helped the Brits, the French and the Spanish in all their imperial wars. Then some of us helped the USA and Canada to colonize North America, moving the Indians aside and helping the slave economies.

After independence our Church missions concentrated in Africa, specifically the British parts. Look at the big picture and let's stop the hypocrisy.

If all Europeans had stayed at home since 1000 AD we would still be herding sheep and cattle like our ancestors did for millennia. No cities, no cars, no computers. You win some, you lose some. Did any of us ever turn away a cheque with a crown on it?

The visit was a chance for our political class to come to terms with the fact that next door still has a monarchy, despite our best efforts. Most of us were indifferent either way.

author by Joe Mcpublication date Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly begins in Cork later today.

With Fine Gael in power we can expect to see the often-overlooked third strand of the Good Friday Agreement -dealing with British-Irish Relations- coming in to play.

author by not so innocent bystanderpublication date Mon Jun 13, 2011 16:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"it is best that the protests were kept safe by keeping the 32 counties group seperate from eirigi marchers"

I was on that Eirgir initiated march to Dublin. Looked to me that Eirgri abandoned ship pretty soon after we met police lines. Lot of the estate kids were well intentioned, if not having the benefit of a privileged education, and were looking for leadership throughout the week. You can't blame them/ the victims You should look after your casualties. It's not over until everyone (evenif they're not from your clique, other groups and tendencies are out of custody/court process and over their injuries). That gives for Reclaim the Streets 02 as well.

That's where all the singing and speeches should have been made, as close to Dublin Castle as possible...not at Emmet execution site. Should have been in earshot of the invited guests as they arrived.

We (the guests) were left there with the cops. The hosts had vanished. We should have held that space (the intesection next to Christchurch Cathedral) for as long as the dinner went. Tension when the head of the imperial state is dining nearby is good. Violence is a dead end.

Don't what was up, maybe Eirgri took to many hits in the mainstream media and they had run out of steam. The numbers they thought would come out during the week had not materialised.

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Sun Jun 26, 2011 20:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry for late replies but I’ve been away awhile and just barely keeping up with email.

Opus Diablo: You say “No Diarmuid” as though I stated my belief is to get Ireland into the British Commonwealth. A closer reading should reveal that I don’t think that likely and would in fact agree that NATO is a more likely desired destination for our rulers.

Blazes Boylan: your contribution seems to boil down to imperialism gives us the things we like so what’s the problem? The answers to that are so many that space prohibits me from replying, but how about war, disease, famine, massive child mortality, pollution, habitat destruction, nuclear waste ... and exploitation and ego-centric selfishness.

Not-so-innocent bystander: I don’t know where you got the "it is best that the protests were kept safe by keeping the 32 counties group seperate from eirigi marchers" quote from but it wasn’t anything I wrote. You’re entitled to your opinion but mine is that the numbers of police at the Christchurch intersection were huge and we were badly exposed with few escape routes in wide streets where horses and vehicles had definite advantages. We might have been allowed to stay but then again as it got darker .... I return to the fact that the basic problem was the failure to unite earlier on to get the maximum raising of the issues among the public in general and working class areas in particular and to get maximum unity on tactics.

author by JoeMcpublication date Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Re my post of June 13 , I see this story on the RTE website today 

"Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey is confident that the torch relay for next year's London Games is going to reach Dublin."

Wouldn't it be good to get some of the people involved with the peace process to do some of the torch-bearing ? Queen Elizabeth hands the torch of peace to Peter Mandelson , who hands it to  David Trimble who passes it to Gerry Adams who runs sweating with it to the border to be picked up by Stakeknife . Stakeknife and members of his nutting squad relay it to Dublin accompanied by an SAS /Irish Rangers team of bodyguards to the Garden of Remembrance where Enda Kenny is waiting to light an everlasting flame at a cauldron kindly donated by Shell plc before handing the flame on to President McAleese to give it back to Queen Elizabeth on the mainland  at a Buckingham Palace garden  party just in time for the commencement of the Olympic Games in London .Something like that  

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