Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here comes the Queen

As a republican (small r) I have big problems with the concept of a hereditary head of state. Being lucky enough to be popped out of the right set of loins at the right time seems like a pretty bad way to determine who should be citizen number one. But at the same time, I agree with the concept of sovereignty of nation states, and what rules and regulations other countries use to appoint office holders is their own business. So in that spirit I have to welcome the arrival of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in much the same way I do any other head of state - with much indifference.

What I can't do though, is ignore the huge security operation that has been in place around the city over the last week or so. As an employee of TCD, where the Queen is due to visit later this afternoon, I have spent two days flashing my ID card to get in and out of campus and subjected to bag searches by the GardaĆ­. Normally I'd get a bit civil libertyish about such things but when you see the reports of the large number of IEDs that have been discovered and defused in the last few days I can appreciate the precautions being taken. The worst thing that could happen would be for a serious incident to occur during the visit.

The Republican (large R) movement are, of course, out in force organising protests and apparently even flag burnings. While I respect their right to protest, the tactics often employed by these groups, involving violence and intimidation are not acceptable. If you live in a civilized society then there is a certain set of standards by which you must abide. And really if you are going to try to burn a flag in front of the world's media, maybe practice at home first to figure out how to do it. Hint - use an accellerant of some sort.

The one thing that I do agree with them on is the timing of the Queen's arrival. The anniversary of the Monaghan/Dublin bombings might not have been the smartest choice especially considering the ongoing belief in some quarters that the British intelligence agencies and/or the RUC were involved in the bombings.

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