Maurice Hayes: Let's get back to balancing the books now VIP circus is over
Published 30/05/2011 | 05:00
THERE is a lot to be said, in the right time and place, for bread and circuses, the device used in ancient Rome to keep the plebs happy. No such cynicism, of course, could be attached to the events of the past week and a half, embracing a royal presence and a presidential flying visit.
Both served to make us, as a people, feel better about ourselves, and to divert attention, however briefly, from an obsessive concentration on the misdeeds of international bankers and indigenous speculators.
Of the two, the visit of Queen Elizabeth was the more significant, in being longer, more extensive, and that it should have taken place at all. It is particularly significant in the development of relationships with the Unionist community in Northern Ireland and ultimately on the nature of the dialogue between both communities there. In a very real way, it was putting flesh on the bones of the Good Friday Agreement -- an affirmation that the Irish people meant what they had voted overwhelmingly in favour of in a referendum which endorsed the principle of consent and amended the constitution to accommodate the Unionist cultural and political identity.