This year marks 70 years of the rule of British Queen Elizabeth. The Gaelic American asked, how should the Irish people & their Diaspora view the Platinum Jubilee? Views expressed here are the opinion of their respective authors.
Among the first groups to congratulate the Queen on her anniversary was Sinn Féin, on the heels of their decision to approve a tree being planted at the Stormont Parliament buildings to mark the anniversary. Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald commented, “I think it is important that we are respectful of the identity of our citizens who are British. I think that is entirely appropriate and I welcome that decision.” She wished well to those who will celebrate the jubilee, and said she believes those who won’t be celebrating “are now big enough, bold enough, generous enough to acknowledge the identity of others.” She continued, “Can I also extend to the British Queen a word of congratulations because 70 years is quite some record. That is what you call a lifetime of service.” It was a surprising statement from the leader of a republican party, especially considering their own stance on vetoing the planting of that commemorative tree just a short time ago.
Dixie Elliot, a former Irish Republican prisoner from Derry had this to say:
The fact that this question is even being asked is proof of how far removed certain “Republicans” have become from the ideals of James Connolly and Bobby Sands. James Connolly referred to those who took part in royal visits as “grovelling dirt-eating capitalist traitors” and he further wrote that they were, “but signs of disease in any social state.”
The British in their arrogance demand that their royal family is revered. Unfortunately this is exactly what those who would profess to being Republicans are doing at the moment.
Let us remember that a fortnight after Bloody Sunday, on 15th February 1972, Frank Kitson was knighted by this Queen for “gallant and distinguished” service in Northern Ireland. That’s how she referred to the slaughter of innocent people on their own streets. She is not our queen but someone who continues to claim domination over the northern six counties of our country by military force.
Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta (National Irish Freedom Committee, based in the United States) lambasted the comments by Sinn Féin:
The Irish Diaspora in the U.S. bears no malice to Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. What the Irish Diaspora abhors is the millennium of state–sponsored terror endured by Ireland and its people under the symbol and auspices of the Imperial State Crown the Queen symbolizes.
The informed Irish Diaspora, whose lineage goes back to the American Revolutionary War, is mindful of King George III and the malice he bore towards the rebellious colonists in whose ranks were Irish victims of plunder, disease, starvation and war. In trying to enslave the colonists and bend them to his will, King George III represented the same Crown that Sinn Féin paid homage to in congratulating Queen Elizabeth II on her Platinum Jubilee.
It’s the same Crown that reigned over the Amritsar massacre in India, the Chumik Shenko massacre in Tibet, the Shaji massacre in China, the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre in Peshawar, the al-Bassa massacre in Palestine and hundreds of other such massacres in their other colonies scattered around the world.
If such massacres are a stretch for modern day Sinn Féin politicians to comprehend or lend credence to, perhaps the Ballymurphy massacre in August 1971, the McGurks Bar massacre in Belfast in 1971, the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972, the New Lodge massacre in Belfast in 1973, the Loughinisland massacre in Co. Down in 1994 and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974, all carried out by servants of the Crown, may be easier to understand as acts of inhumanity and savagery.
Embracing a Crown steeped in innocent blood is not a required gesture of peace or reconciliation. On the contrary, it smacks of indentured servitude.
The calculus on the part of Sinn Féin with respect to the royal congratulatory outreach is intriguing. Did the congratulatory message end with “Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant”? If not, it should have. After all, leading members of the Sinn Féin organization serve in her Majesty’s government in Northern Ireland.
Based on its lack of commitment to a stated purpose or program other that an intermittent call for a “border poll”, it’s difficult to understand what Sinn Féin has to offer. It would be fool hardy to support Sinn Féin who have emerged from 30 years of warfare and political conflict not knowing if they have a vision for Ireland as a unified entity. Therefore, one could justifiably speculate that they are waiting for England to offer something akin to a united Ireland within the British Commonwealth or maybe Irish unity under a dual monarchy such as the party founder, Arthur Griffith proposed as a solution in 1907.
The Irish Diaspora here in America is not prone to equivocation, flattery or pie-in-the-sky pronouncements meant to mollify or mislead. Many amongst us have long histories that go back to 1969 and beyond. In other words, we are well aware of the timeline, characters, political initiatives, collusion, hunger strikes, touts and patriots, gombeen men and sleezebags who for good or evil are woven into the historic narrative of Northern Ireland from 1969 onwards. Any attempt by Sinn Féin or their surrogates to rewrite history or turn villains into heroes is anathema to us. If need be, we will be the lone voice to oppose such an outrage.
The Irish Diaspora in the U.S has always been to the forefront of Ireland’s struggle for freedom and sovereignty and will continue to fill that traditional role.
The jubilee celebrations were also denounced by Eiméid Mac Chathmhaoil of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement:
Sinn Féin’s back-paddling and downfall has been self-explanatory for years. Sinn Féin are a party with no concrete ideological principles. They pick and choose their principles a lot of the time, appeasing the British Government and compromising everything that it means to be a Republican. Congratulating the monarch of the country illegally occupying your own is ludicrous and nothing new from Sinn Féin. Look no further than Sinn Féin meeting and smiling almost yearly with “Prince” Charles the Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment or even Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the “Queen” herself. From the Good Friday Agreement Sinn Féin have only erased and abandoned their Republican principles and have sought to undermine any other movement which calls them out. If the Irish people and their Diaspora are to consider themselves Republicans then this needs to be called out and shouldn’t go unnoticed, and from our perspective, the whole monarchy, never mind the jubilee, need to go.
For our final contribution, we looked to the quintessential nationalist Irish-American paper of our preceding generation, The Irish People. We found plenty snubs to the monarchy by the editorial team, but this letter that one reader shared with The Irish People for publication shows an unabashed Irish-American response to a request for fundraising to send the Garden City band to play for the Queen’s 1977 Jubilee:
Compiled by the TGA Editorial Team with thanks to our contributors.