Publican to remove banner barring Queen
Published 16/03/2011 | 14:25
A publican has been ordered to remove a 40-foot banner barring Queen Elizabeth II from his premises during her State visit to the Republic of Ireland.
John Stokes said he reluctantly agreed to take down the controversial sign after a senior garda threatened to object to his application for six late licences at Dublin District Court.
Judge Paul Kelly told Mr Stokes, the father of Celtic footballer Anthony Stokes, to give an undertaking to remove the sign from outside the Players Lounge in the north Dublin suburb of Fairview, and not to erect another one.
"You have a perfect right to protest as long as you do this within the law," the judge added.
"I've no doubt there will be a planning issue with a sign that size."
Garda Inspector Liam Dillon told the court his objection, based on public safety concerns, would be withdrawn if the banner was removed by 5pm.
The publican agreed, stating the livelihoods of his 12 staff members would be at risk if he did not get the late licences at the pub, where a doorman and two customers were injured during a shooting last year.
But outside court, Mr Stokes, 54, vowed to continue his protest against the Queen, who is expected to visit the Irish capital for the first time in May.
"I'll just have to find another way that's acceptable to An Garda Siochana," he added.
Mr Stokes said the stunt had nothing to do with his son who, like Celtic manager Neil Lennon, has received sectarian threats.
The republican maintained his objection was not against the Queen as a person, but as the head of state and commander of the British Forces.
"This is nothing against English people. We've a lot of English people in the pub, we show English football and we're quite happy to do that," he said.
"I do feel it's not the right time for the Queen to visit this country and I feel I have a democratic right to express that view.
"Obviously that's not the view of the guards.
"She still occupies part of our country and as long as she does I will always object to her presence in this country."