Monday 20 February 2017

The State visit to Britain gave a big boost to Sinn Fein

Published 13/04/2014 | 02:30

Queen Elizabeth II greets Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left), First Minister Peter Robinson (2nd left) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers (3rd left) as Irish President Michael D Higgins looks on (right) during a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. Luke MacGregor/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II greets Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left), First Minister Peter Robinson (2nd left) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers (3rd left) as Irish President Michael D Higgins looks on (right) during a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. Luke MacGregor/PA Wire

PRESIDENT Higgins performed his public duties to perfection. His speeches were superbly structured and spoken – although he might have reminded Queen Elizabeth that her ancestor, Elizabeth the First, published the first prayer book in Gaelic, to instruct the Irish in the Protestant faith.

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Sabina Higgins was superb too. To adapt Kipling, she walked with queens without losing the common touch. Dignified but also down-to-earth, she wore Irish designs as elegantly as if she had spent her earlier life on the catwalk.

But as the week went on I began to feel bewildered, manipulated and finally angered by the complicity of politicians, mandarins and media in promoting an amnesia about the past, present and future agenda of Sinn Fein, the chief beneficiary of the state visit.

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