Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Liz in Ireland

Liz and Mary

Aer Lingus uniform
She arrived around noon yesterday, on a plain white plane, which didn't despite many speculations carry the Union Flag on the side. Would've made too easy a target, I suppose. Liz was wearing something that reminded me of the Aer Lingus cabin crew uniform. Very fitting. When greeted by president Mary McAleese wearing a lovely shade of fuschia, someone on Facebook commented that the two women looked like the last two chocolates on the bottom of a tin of Quality Street.

Not everyone was happy that the Queen finally followed her grandfather's footsteps onto Irish soil after a mere 100-year gap in between visits. Protesters lined the heavily barricaded streets in Dublin, along with as many gardai as I've seen in my 9 years in this country. Protesters chanting, shouting, swearing and throwing things. Shouting how you don't want Brits in Ireland while wearing British football jersey makes you a bit of an idiot, ok? The relationship between Ireland and the UK is fraught to say the least. So much history, so many wrong-doings and so much violence.

History is the key word here, though. It's in the past. And while the past should not be forgotten, nor should it be wallowed in whenever something doesn't go your way. There's a recession on; let's blame the Brits for dragging us down with them. The unemployment figures are up again; let's blame the Brits for luring Irish people away to work there. The war, the famine, the oppression, oh the size of the chip on the Irish shoulder!

I am in no way undermining the sacrifices made by people on both sides of this conflict. What has happened in the past is appalling, there's no other word for it. But isn't it time to move on and let go of the grudge? I, for one see the Queen's visit as a step towards a more amicable relationship between these two neighbouring islands. Her laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance was a clear message. Her visit to Croke Park, the site of Bloody Sunday sends a message that's even clearer. By acknowledging what has happened in the past and making amends, there's hope of a more peaceful co-existence here.

Laying a wreath at Garden of Remembrance

She is meeting Ireland half-way, she is, in effect, apologising on behalf of her country. The least Ireland can do is to accept the apology and move forward. I saw a photo of the crowd of protesters and was shocked and disappointed to see amongst the protesters a girl no older that 12 years of age. She was holding a sign "Britain out of Ireland" while sitting on the shoulders of a man I'm assuming to be her father. I can see how grudges can be held for generations, that being a perfect example. Handing the burden of hate to your children, teaching them to hate something or someone they really have no grasp of, other than the fact that their parent thinks it's important, therefore it must be important to them also. Irresponsible.

Empty streets in Dublin
I'm not asking for a crowd to line the streets waving the Union Flag or throwing street parties, it's hardly going to happen any time soon. The general atmosphere seems to be of subdued interest. "It's nice to have her here, but let's not make a big deal of it". It's about time she visited and it is nonetheless a historical event, no matter what is being said against it. I see it as a positive step forward and a historic point in the Anglo-Irish relations.

The Queen is visiting Croke Park today and making a speech later on at Dublin Castle. I, for one will be tuning in.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, and good read. Ive posted some thoughts here