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Perfidious Albion? No, but the Queen forgot her Irish friends

SO members of the public will not be allowed to gawk at the Queen while she is here. All the roads around any of her engagements will be sealed off. Because they are worried one of us would kill her or that we'd start rioting. Let's hope she doesn't die of boredom instead.

If I live to be the Queen's age, my ambition would be that I do not have to spend my time traipsing around the Tyndall Institute in Cork in the company of current and former presidents of UCC, Richard Bruton and Pat Rabbitte, amongst others.

I'm sure the Tyndall Institute is a fabulous place and I admire the fact that they are apparently working on a painless needle. But Jaysus, you'd rather be sticking needles in your eyes than going around that when you're her age.

Admittedly, she'll get to see some horses at some stage, which you'd imagine is her main motivation in coming to Ireland.

The most bizarre part of the Queen's visit is that it seems she will meet none of the very people who have made her visit possible.

It's very easy to take for granted that a British monarch is visiting this country and we are all pretty much feeling okay about it. Even those who are ambivalent about Her Maj at least feel her visit will be good for tourism.

But it wouldn't have been like this 10 years ago. Even then, a lot of people in this country would have pretty much hated the Queen and would have generally felt the Brits were bastards. We were brought up with it. That was kind of the norm.

And, strangely enough, most of the people who changed that situation are not invited to any of the beanos the Queen will be attending in between looking at stud farms.

The list of those who will not be at any queenly functions reads like a who's who of those who did the most down the years, risking reputations -- and at some points their lives -- to promote Anglo-Irish friendship. These people allowed us to not hate the Brits -- opinion-formers who stood up to the fellow-traveller norm.

People like Barbara Fitzgerald, who got a CBE for her peace work; Chris Hudson of the Peace Train movement, who also took huge personal risks to act as the go-between with protestant paramilitaries; Ruth Dudley Edwards, who has championed good relations with Britain when it was neither popular or profitable; Eoghan Harris, who has consistently challenged our received tribal notions about the Brits; Kevin Myers, who singlehandedly rescued our World War One dead from oblivion. We could go on.

Bruce Arnold. Even Sean O'Callaghan. You can understand O'Callaghan could be a hot potato for them, but he did, according to Garret FitzGerald, give information that saved her son Charles and Diana from a bomb plot.

The Brits say they want the Queen to meet a good cross-section of Irish people. It's a shame then that she won't meet any of that steadfastly loyal breed of Irish person that we like to call 'West Brits'.

Because they are the ones to whom she owes most and they would probably be the ones that would get the biggest kick out of meeting her.

Maybe the Brits are trying to keep their enemies close. But they should remember to look after their friends too.

Sunday Independent