Déardaoin, Aibreán 07, 2011

No Welcome for Britain's Commander in Chief

The following Opinion piece by Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig, éirígí spokesperson in Donegal, was carried in last Sunday's edition (April 3rd) of the Donegal on Sunday Newspaper.  It was in response to an article in the paper the previous week in which former Fine Gael TD for Donegal North-East Paddy Harte had welcomed the upcoming 'British Royal Visit'.

In his opinion piece last Sunday (Mar 27th) Paddy Harte suggests that all people of “goodwill” should welcome the visit of the English Monarch Elizabeth Windsor to the 26 counties in May. As socialist republicans, éirígí reject that notion. Not only should she not be welcomed anywhere on this island but her visit needs to be vigorously opposed on the streets.

So who exactly is this woman that Paddy wants us to welcome with open arms and what does she and the Monarchy actually represent? 

She is Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces. Five thousand of her troops continue to occupy the six counties, backed up by hundreds of MI5 operatives and a 9000 strong armed militia – the RUC/PSNI - who are engaged in widespread repression against the nationalist community and those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland.

The British army record in Ireland is a litany of human rights abuses and murder. They have committed countless atrocities both directly and in collusion with loyalist death squads against the nationalist population. Among the most notorious such incidents was the massacre of civil rights protesters in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Windsor herself awarded OBE's to a number of those responsible for the murders that day including Colonel Derek Wilford. While some might suggest that this was in the past, despite having the power to do so and having done so with others who had been decorated by her on previous occasions, she pointedly refuses to revoke the honours that she awarded to those troops.

She remains a staunch apologist for the War Crimes carried out by her troops, not just here in Ireland, but around the world. During their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, British troops and their US allies were responsible for gross human rights violations including kidnapping, torture and the slaughter of civilians as well as targeting residential and non-military targets resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

They continue to occupy, repress and commit massacres against the civilian population in Afghanistan and are currently alongside their NATO allies launching bombing raids on Libya.

Windsor's role in the ethnic cleansing of the population of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean is also very revealing. In 1965 more than 3000 Chagosian residents, nominally British citizens, were forcibly removed without compensation from their homes by the British government in order to allow the US military build an airbase on the island of Diego Garcia. This base is used to launch attacks throughout the middle east and Afghanistan. 

In November 2000, the islanders finally won the right in a British High Court to return to the outlying islands from where they had been evicted 35 years beforehand. However in June 2004 Mrs Windsor stepped in and using an Order in Council issued by the secretive Privy Council which is used to by-pass their own Parliament and not subject to any scrutiny, simply reversed the High Court decision. At the stroke of a pen, she re-enforced this act of ethnic cleansing and consigned the population of these islands to a lifetime of exile. So much for the 'benevolent little old lady with no powers' image being touted by her cheerleaders!

The Monarchy is a fundamentally undemocratic and sectarian institution. The Monarch cannot be member of a religion other than the Church of England and cannot marry someone not of that faith. The so-called 'royal family' are parasites on the working people of Britain and indeed of the people of the six counties who continue to live under British occupation.

They believe that they have a god-given right to rule. The Windsors view working people as their 'subjects' whose duty it is to pay through their taxes for the privileged, extravagant and wealthy lifestyle that they enjoy.

It is one hundred years since the last visit to the 26 counties by an English Monarch. On that occasion socialist republicans such as James Connolly and Constance Markievicz led the opposition to that visit. One hundred years later, their reasons for opposing that visit remain as valid as they did then. The British military and political occupation of part of our country continues. The rotten sectarian, privileged, anti-worker and undemocratic nature of the monarchy remains in place.

The bottom line is that every individual and every organisation that considers themselves a republican, a socialist and a democrat should, not only be appalled at this visit, but should be on the streets actively protesting and organising resistance to it. To feign opposition to it while refusing to actively campaign against it is an indefensible position.

We need to show the world that those individuals who will undoubtedly bow and grovel in the presence of the person that Paddy calls 'her Majesty' do not represent the views of the Irish people. We need to show the world that the Irish people reject the notion of birthright, privilege and sectarianism and reject the continuing human rights abuses and war crimes committed by Windsors armed forces.

Be under no illusion, this visit is designed for one simple purpose – to normalise and legitimise the continued occupation of the six counties. But Britain has no right to occupy any part of Ireland. Whether Paddy likes it or not, until Britain implements a complete military and political withdrawal from our country there cannot be any normalising of British-Irish relations and the occupation and visits such as this will continue to be vigorously resisted on the streets.

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