Friday 24 March 2017

People come before party, says Browne

Barry Duggan and Fionnan Sheahan

THE Sinn Fein politician who made history by greeting Queen Elizabeth II was accused of breaching party rules last night.

Mayor of Cashel Michael 'Mickey' Browne -- who is fighting cancer -- said he met the queen as he was representing the people of the town who elected him.

Sinn Fein's attitude to the queen's visit has frequently shifted and been marked by inconsistencies over the past number of weeks.

The party protested in Tipperary and Cork yesterday against the queen's visit, following similar events in Dublin earlier this week.

A party spokeswoman said they were surprised that Mr Browne had agreed to meet the queen as he had signed a letter agreeing not to do so.

Mr Browne said he had made his position clear on the queen's visit weeks beforehand. The 63-year-old had said he would welcome the queen to Cashel if the majority of the people in the town wanted him to do so.

He met the queen and Prince Philip in the vicar's choral area of the Rock of Cashel yesterday morning just moments before they departed.

Mr Browne acknowledged that some of his party colleagues would have had a problem with him meeting the queen. "But my attitude was that you are elected by the people and for the people.

"I always made it clear that if a position ever arose where there is party before people -- then the people will come first," he said.

Mr Browne acknowledged that he was probably the first Sinn Fein representative to meet the queen in an official capacity.

"Sticking your head in the sand is no good," he added.

Irish Independent

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