Friday 20 January 2017

Descendants of 1916 rebels question Queen's visit

Published 16/05/2011 | 13:00

Ancestors of the 1916 rebel leaders have question the visit of Queen Elizabeth. Photo: PA
Ancestors of the 1916 rebel leaders have question the visit of Queen Elizabeth. Photo: PA

Descendants of Ireland's 1916 rebel leaders have branded the Queen's visit bizarre and inappropriate.

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James Connolly-Heron, great-grandson of Irish Labour Party founder James Connolly, said the historic visit is full of contradictions.

Honor O Brolchain, grand-niece of another signatory of the Proclamation of Independence, Joe Plunkett, said she was initially indifferent to the royal visit but now finds the idea ill-judged.

Both questioned why the Queen was asked to attend the Garden of Remembrance, which honours Irish rebels, and Croke Park, where in 1920 British troops killed 14 people in what was the original Bloody Sunday attack.

Mr Connolly-Heron said: "The places that she is visiting, the Garden of Remembrance and Croke Park, it's very inappropriate and insensitive. The Garden of Remembrance honours all those who fought and died for Irish freedom and that's where the Queen will be laying a wreath. But that dream has not been realised.

"There's a contradiction there. Given that the Queen of England still occupies part of this island is it not strange that she is honouring those who fought and died? I don't think we are at the stage for that sort of recognition.

"The itinerary is very strange. We have a strange image of the Queen laying a wreath in honour of those patriots. Is the Queen in favour of Irish unity?

"Croke Park is even more bizarre. The first people who should be honoured should be the people who died on the field."

Despite her opposition, Ms O Brolchain said she would not protest and that she respects the Government's decision to extend an invite.

"Originally I would have said just stand back and stay away. I would prefer to do that," she said.

"But I'd also much prefer some kind of establishment of what the Queen's view of our relationship in Irish history was.

"I realise we are only a small part of a colonial history but there should be some form of words or acknowledgement and she may do that, we don't know, but it would have been easier if we had been told that."

"We own the state and the Government, as opposed to being subjects. We should know if something like that is going to happen.

"And our president (Mary McAleese) has not been asked to pay a state visit to Britain."

Criticism of the royal visit has been limited to Sinn Fein, which described it as premature, anti-war activists and the left wing republican group Eirigi which is planning protests.

The two descendants are members of a group of relatives of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation attempting to protect buildings associated with the Rising, the Save 16 Moore Street campaigners.

Mr Connolly-Heron said: "Again it throws up a contradiction of the expenditure. The national monument (16 Moore St) lies in a state of dereliction while at the same time we invite the Queen to honour patriots."

The rebel descendant stood as a Labour candidate in Dublin in the 1980s but was not elected.

Mr Connolly-Heron also highlighted the failure of UK authorities to co-operate with an inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1974.

The British Government has resisted calls to release information in secret state files amid questions of security force collusion in the May 17 attacks which left 34 people dead.

Ms O Brolchain said: "We have, if you like, a very large complaint against the Crown, the monarchy and forces of England. It goes back a long way.

"It's a bit unnerving that the Queen will come and lay a wreath. On what basis is she doing it? It can't be the same as another head of state."

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