News24

Queen seeks reconciliation on Irish tour

2011-05-18 21:00

Dublin - Queen Elizabeth II's journey of reconciliation took her to the site on Wednesday of a notorious massacre where British troops killed 14 Irish civilians in 1920.

The queen's visit to Croke Park on the second day of her historic trip to the Republic of Ireland highlights the vast improvement in Anglo-Irish relations since those dark days.

The large sports stadium is a revered spot for Irish nationalists who mourn those who died there during the conflict with Britain.

The seats of the stadium - the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association - were empty, a sign of the extensive security during her visit.

A band played, its sounds echoing off the stadium walls.

The queen and her husband Prince Philip began the day with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland's most popular sites, and also saw the famous Gravity Bar, which offers a panoramic view of Dublin.

Master brewer Fergal Murray expertly prepared a pint of Guinness for the queen in the Gravity Bar, but she declined after smiling broadly.

Prince Philip gazed at the brew with obvious longing but also walked away without a taste.

Earlier, he had joked with Murray, "Is it made with Liffey water?" referring to the nearby river.

The Guinness tour struck a light note on an otherwise serious visit. The queen, in an ivory outfit with oversize blue buttons that matched her hat, went directly from the Guinness building for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Protests

The queen and Irish President Mary McAleese also laid wreaths at the Irish National War Memorial Garden on Wednesday, much as they did the day before at the Garden of Remembrance honouring Irish rebels who fought against British rule.

The war memorial garden on the south bank of the River Liffey is dedicated to the 49 400 Irish soldiers who died in World War I.

The queen also viewed an illustrated manuscript listing all of the victims.

The World War I memorial garden was chosen as a way to emphasise the shared history of Ireland and Britain.

The queen is receiving high marks from the Irish press for her dignified conduct during her long-anticipated visit.

Many also approved of her arrival outfit, which emphasised emerald green.

The Irish Daily Mail noted the widespread respect for the queen's decision to honour Ireland's rebels on her first day in Dublin by laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance.

"With one momentary bow of the head, Queen Elizabeth II banished centuries of mistrust yesterday in a historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland by a reigning British monarch," wrote journalist Senan Molony.

Despite the friendly welcome, the queen is still being protected by an exceptionally large security contingent of more than 8 500 police backed by troops.

Some arrests were made overnight, and much of downtown Dublin was closed to motorists and pedestrians on Wednesday morning.

There were several scuffles and protests on Tuesday after the queen's arrival. Dissident groups have said further disruptions are possible.

On Thursday, the queen plans to visit the Irish National Stud to indulge her love of horses. She also hosts a gala dinner for Irish dignitaries on Thursday evening before travelling to Cork on Friday.

Comments
  • Yoni - 2011-05-18 22:41

    When's Lillibeth going to lay a wreath in Bloemfontein for the 26,000?

      David - 2011-05-19 16:38

      Yes Yoni, even though I was born way after the 2nd World War I still cannot get over the fact that the UK "got off so lightly" after the Boer War (1899 - 1902) - I mean, where is the righteousness? I'm an English-speaking South Africa with all my ancestors (Dutch & English) having come to Africa in the 1700's so I regard myself as 100% South African and the killing of our people in the way they did it should never have gone "unpunished" by the free world. I've read many books about the battles and am totally disgusted that people did that to our people and yet cry foul at the Rwanda Genocide - what do they think 26 000 killed in 1899 - 1902 is called? Dave

  • David - 2011-05-19 16:26

    14 Irish Civilians killed in 1920!? Reconciliation? How about 26 000 Boer women and children killed only 18 years prior to that by British soldiers - how about some kind of reconciliation towards this? South Africa accepted meager "apology" early after the war. Apparently Germany still pay Israel for the 1914 - 1945 atrocities, how come the UK get away with the slaughter of those women and children, the burning of farms and the raping of the women on these farms???? Shocking, yet they tout themselves as peacekeepers today. Well put Yoni, but too softly put - the Brits didn't even have the decency to make good for their early genocide attempt!! Dave

      Yoni - 2011-05-19 21:19

      Thanks for your post Dave. I'm not anti-British but I believe in justice. Was in London again last year, very fond of the place (worked there for two years) and went to Imperial War Museum for second time. There was an exhibition about genocide, no mention of the 26 000 on the interactive list scrolling past on the monitor though.

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