Effigy of the Queen beheaded in Dublin
Tomorrow, Her Majesty the Queen begins a truly historic visit to the Republic of Ireland. For many, it marks not so much the beginning of a new era, but the symbolic concurrence of the normalisation of two states' relations. Not everyone is happy, of course, for this is Ireland, where sectarian divisions run thicker than blood; where some still talk of the potato famine as though it were yesterday; where Oliver Cromwell is demon from the pit of hell; and where some still view the British Monarch as 'a legitimate target' (to use Gerry Adams' words).
This mock execution was staged by Éirígí - an Irish Republican group - protesting at the visit of 'Elizabeth Windsor'. Gerry Adams would doubtless approve, as he has called for 'peaceful protest', which is very gracious of him and more than he was prepared to show Prince Philip's uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. A few months ago, Mr Adams was of the view that the visit was 'inadvisable and premature'. But then he was elected to the Dáil, discovered there was widespread support for the visit, and his outright opposition mutated to long-winded waffle about reconciliation. Not for him, of course: he has made it clear that he will not be attending any dinners or functions, which must make Her Majesty feel a little safer. It would have been difficult for her having to shake hands with the man who murdered your husband's uncle.
Noting that Her Majesty has 'legacy issues', Gerry Adams will be passing the next few days peacefully celebrating republicanism. The antipathy of Sinn Féin to the Crown is, of course, wound up with a few centuries of religio-political angst with all the old Protestant/Catholic and Pope/Parliament themes interspersed with inter alia Fitzgeralds versus Butlers; Raleigh’s incursions; the slaughter of Smerwick; and the inconvenience of internment. This is what Mr Adams means by 'legacy issues'.
His own legacy, of course, is not in question. He didn't attend this mock trial and execution in Dublin, but it would doubtless have delighted him. Some 12 charges were read out, ranging from the Great Famine to the execution of the rebels from 1916 to Afghanistan.
Her Majesty was, of course, found guilty by the jury (which comprised all those fair-minded and impartial folk in attendance), and was sentenced to be guillotined (Éirígí aren't too strong on any history beyond the Irish Sea). This re-enactment of the French Revolution was staged outside Dublin's iconic GPO building, the site of the 1916 Easter Rising and where the proclamation of the Irish Republic was read out.
You might think, with certain Islamist groups around the world choosing beheading as the fitting end for all kuffar, that Irish Republicans might be a little more sensitive in their symbolism. The sight of a young boy, about 10 years old, holding aloft the head of the Queen is as abhorrent as the induction into murder and the brainwashing of any child into patterns of hatred: if it is wrong in Gaza, it must be wrong in Dublin. Unionists are right to label this an 'incitement to hatred': no doubt therein dissident Republican groups will find succour for their continuing anti-British terrorist cause.