The King and I
A Letter from Ireland
a Chara, The news here has been wall-to-wall coverage of the death of the British Queen Elizabeth and the elevation of her son to become King Charles. The occasion has been marked by respect, dignity, and compassion by the Sinn Féin leadership. Values that are the basis for the new and united Ireland that we are building. As an Irish Republican, the idea of a monarchy is an anathema. A throwback to imperial times and empires long gone. The belief that someone is born to rule, appointed by God to head a church, and that all others are their subjects, is absurd. Add into the mix a history of colonization and subjugation, you wonder why it still continues today. But it does.
There was a genuine outpouring of grief by royal supporters. At the heart of this is a family that has been bereaved. The role of the monarchy is revered in Britain and by many on the island of Ireland. We may not share that view, but we can respect it. To display respect and compassion is the right thing to do. It is interesting to note the leadership role that the British Monarch played in recent times.When Unionists were branding all generations of Irish Republicans as “terrorists”, the Queen laid a wreath and bowed her head at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. When the Unionists were objecting to the Irish Language the Queen issued a welcome “as Gaelige”. Unionists attacked the GAA and the Queen's grandchildren played hurling in Croke Park. These are meaningful gestures of reconciliation and leadership. It points to a future based on inclusion, respect, and equality. Recognizing positive leadership is the right thing to do. Positive leadership is required in changing times. As one republican remarked, King Charles was met in Belfast by the Sinn Féin First Minister, Sinn Féin Speaker of the Parliament, and the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast. When his mother first visited as Monarch, Sinn Féin was banned, Irish Citizens oppressed, and discrimination the norm. There is still much hurt in the community. The Royals still retain the role as symbolic heads of a military that killed, maimed, and tortured many at the behest of successive British Prime ministers and governments. King Charles has promised to continue the approach of his mother who said on a state visit to Dublin, “this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers, and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation, of being able to bow to the past but not be bound by it.” Adding "With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.” We may not agree but we can respect each other's loss, identity, and experiences. That is not weakness but strength. Have a great weekend,
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.